Dear Leaders,

A resource of starting points for leaders in child welfare to bring family voice and power to the system

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Dear Leaders is a set of theme-based discussion prompts and activities developed by lived experts and leaders in the field to help prepare child welfare teams to do community co-design as trustworthy partners.

As the field moves even more deeply into aligning with the values and practices of community engagement, we recognize there is a huge prerequisite to co-design: TRUST. Leaders, teams, or agencies who embark on community co-design must join with clear eyes and humble hearts, ready for accountability. Dear Leaders will help guide teams into right relationship with their communities, helping to ensure partnerships are rich, healing, and long-lasting.

Dear Leaders is organized into 5 principles:

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Context centers around truth and reconciliation, which requires leaning into this work from a place of humility and acknowledgement of harm done. It means reflecting on your role in the system, and using that as a starting point for change.

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Compassion prioritizes psychological safety and wellbeing-- iterating on engagement internally and externally to support the human and emotional needs of yourself, your staff, and the families you engage.

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Change requires personal and professional development in ways you may not have anticipated. Change-oriented leaders reflect on the power they hold as individuals and the areas they need to grow to nurture their teams and their community.

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Consistency centers around follow-up & follow-through; talking less and doing more. Consistent leaders are brave in the face of discomfort, and affirm their commitment by taking action despite challenges that stand in their way.

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Collaboration is about sharing power and creating ways to actively amplify and design with people with lived experience—without tokenizing them. Collaborative leaders strive to build relationships of mutuality and solidarity with their teams, families, and those impacted by the system to move the work forward.