Dear Workers,

A family engagement resource for workers in child welfare to understand the context of their position and prepare them to bring family voice and power to the system

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Even the work of system transformation continuously evolves. Jurisdictions far and wide speak about the increasing complexity of the work and the need for new approaches and skills to equip themselves so they can best support children and families. You can trust Alia to identify new ways to help systems empower and support families. We hear you--and here is an answer to that call!

What we know to be true is that workers strive to be in right relationship with families to create conditions needed for change. Thanks to the generous gifts from funders, we worked alongside curriculum designers, parents impacted by the child welfare system, system experts, and professionals in the field to create a learning framework made especially for frontline workers whose daily interactions and decisions working directly with children and families have lifelong impacts.

Dear Workers is a free resource it is deeply personal work of being and doing that starts from the inside out and requires acknowledging that we share responsibility as part of a system. This body of work has the potential to change how you see the world and the impact of your interactions with others. In this framework, there are developmental activities designed to support workers in this situation. The work is deep and includes self-awareness as the first step to learning and growth. It also includes creation of support systems to help minimize worker harm. It also requires us to look inward at the trauma we’ve caused and elements of a white supremacy culture that marginalizes people and groups. You can start wherever and use this however you want. If you want to go deeper through a faciliatated engagement, email us at for more details.


Dear Workers is built upon five principles that guide the shift toward strengthening workers’ voice and power, and encourages workers to acknowledge the voice and power of families in the child welfare system. It was important for Team Alia to align on the definitions for the Principles (what exactly do we mean by Context, Compassion, Change, Consistency, and Collaboration?). There is so much room for interpretation and misunderstanding, so defining the five principles provided context when thinking about the meaning behind and purpose of each principle:

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Context refers to the environment, people, and experiences an individual encounters over the course of their lives that shapes their view of the world and other people. The principle of context focuses on workers becoming deeply aware of their own context so they can see how it unconsciously influences their understanding of the families with whom they work

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Compassion is an awareness of the suffering of others and a desire to alleviate that suffering. By practicing the principle of compassion with families, workers seek to understand the trauma families may have experienced, give them a sense of psychological safety, acknowledge their strengths, and help them move toward well-being and wholeness

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Change involves listening to the experiences of people negatively impacted by the child welfare system, envisioning a more just and equitable system, and committing to their own personal and professional growth to have a more positive impact on families.  

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Consistency involves doing the same practices on a regular basis. The principle of consistency means that workers are present and accessible at all stages of their work with families; communicating, following up, and following through in ways that let families know they can be relied upon and trusted. 

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Collaboration is people working together toward a common goal or desired outcome. In practicing the principle of collaboration, workers honor families' needs, perspectives, and lived experience as they partner with them to explore diverse solutions and resources.

Each of the five principles introduces three areas of focus for workers to explore. We gathered input from parent experts, Alia staff, Alia partners and supporters, frontline staff and leaders from all regions of the US and child welfare experts and their partners by conducting listening sessions, focus groups, a survey distributed by partners and on Alia social media channels and by email to collect insight and Feedback on Behaviors to guide our work. Using this collective feedback, we chose one Focus Area and a related behavior for each principle as highlighted below. The result was invaluable. We want to thank all that participated in that process for their insights! We were able to identify key behaviors, definitions, and priorities for what to focus on first as the most meaningful and urgent starting points in the learning continuum that place families first.