The latest news & thinking from Alia...

June 2024 Newsletter

Posted by Anna Kytonen-Coffman on June 27, 2024 at 11:06 AM

Copy of Copy of Orange and White Funny Dating Animated Video Presentation

Read More

Emergence of Compassionate Leadership

Posted by Kim Van Auken on June 27, 2024 at 6:00 AM

For the past six years, the University of Minnesota’s School of Social Work and Alia have offered a Trauma-Effective Leadership Certificate that brings together a small cohort of leaders from private and public sectors to learn how to become inspired leaders who can create environments that are not only trauma-informed but also effective at mitigating and ameliorating trauma. I have had the honor of teaching this course and each time I do, I walk away with humbleness, gratitude, and new learnings.

Read More

Imposter Syndrome in the Helping Profession

Posted by Jordyn Jenkins on June 27, 2024 at 6:00 AM

What is imposter syndrome and why is it so prevalent in human services?  Are we programed to experience imposter syndrome because of the deeply embedded values of perfectionism, born from the inherent white supremacist culture in which we have all been subjected? Or is it due to the growth mindset we often possess, where we never feel like we achieve a level of humility adequate to be “qualified” for the work we are doing?

Read More

May 2024 Newsletter

Posted by Anna Kytonen-Coffman on May 31, 2024 at 11:33 AM

Copy of Copy of Orange and White Funny Dating Animated Video Presentation

Read More

Trusting the Process

Posted by Jordyn Jenkins on May 31, 2024 at 8:46 AM

The primary goals of the Rock Families First movement include eliminating racial disparities in child protective services, decreasing the number of children placed out of home, and engaging families with increased satisfaction.

Read More

Onward: Things to be Optimistic About for the Future of Child Welfare

Posted by Christi Carmouze on May 23, 2024 at 10:21 AM

I've been thinking and getting excited for the connecting dots in the transformation space. There's so much room for improvement, it can be daunting and hard to know where to begin. However, what I’ve been seeing and hearing is promising towards the goal of keeping families safely together.

Read More

April 2024 Newsletter

Posted by Devin Graf on April 30, 2024 at 1:46 PM


Read More

Micro Changes as a Tipping Point

Posted by Debi Grebenik on April 30, 2024 at 10:04 AM

Change. Some dread it, some embrace it. The reality is that change is the only way we can get from here to there. Maybe you’re that one that doesn’t like change. Within our work with child welfare systems, it’s not uncommon for some to truly want to be in a different place, yet drag their feet when asked to adjust or adapt. Most lasting changes don’t come in big waves. Micro changes create the foundation for a tipping point, as Malcolm Gladwell points out in his book, The Tipping Point. Building small, consistent, and strategic changes leads us to the lasting changes we envision and desire. 

Read More

Experiencing the Waves of Change through Workforce Wellbeing and Resilience

Posted by Jordyn Jenkins on April 18, 2024 at 2:07 PM

I have had the unique opportunity and privilege to work with Rock County Human Services, while also interning with Alia as part of my MSW program. Rock County first began working with Alia in 2019, starting with the facilitation of workforce wellbeing and resilience groups for CPS. At that time, the core of Rock County’s CPS was broken and had a lot of work to do related to our internal culture, relationships, and practice. In 2021, Rock County entered into a partnership with Alia to create Rock Families First, a movement focused on eliminating racial disparities in child welfare and transforming the child welfare system. Through my first MSW internship that I did with my place of employment (Rock County), I was able to jump into this project work from the get-go and see the process unfold. Now, in my second and final internship, I am interning with Alia as we are in the final transformation phase for Rock Families First in 2024, while still working for Rock County. I’m not only part of the organization in the trenches of the messy and amazing work, but I am also seeing the grit necessary behind the scenes from Alia to help guide and support the organizations leading these transformational efforts in various areas across the nation. To say I have experienced a few waves of change between 2019 and 2024 in Rock County would be an understatement!

Read More

March 2024 Newsletter

Posted by Anna Kytonen-Coffman on March 31, 2024 at 2:00 PM


Read More

Resource Spotlight: Dear Workers

Posted by Tanya Anderson on March 29, 2024 at 10:26 AM

Even the work of system transformation continuously evolves. Across the nation 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 for being the leaders behind identifying new ways to help systems empower and support families.  We hear you! And here is an answer to that call! During the past year, Team Alia prioritized the development of Dear Workers, a family engagement resource for workers in child welfare to understand the context of their position and to prepare then to bring family voice and power to they system. 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, Team Alia working 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 front line workers whose daily interactions and decisions working directly with children and families have lifelong impacts.

Read More

Microaggressions and the necessity for courageous conversations

Posted by Kim Van Auken on March 25, 2024 at 1:30 PM

We have all been in situations at work when someone says something that feels offensive toward a particular group identity, the person doesn’t realize it, and no one who is involved and/or experienced it says anything. Statements that feel offensive are called microaggressions and a recent experience around this has encouraged me to share reflections about it.

Read More

Helping Families with Healing and Belonging

Posted by Nerée Jackson on March 12, 2024 at 12:56 PM

Part of Alia’s system’s improvement work involves case consultations with a lens of healing and belonging. We call these consultations Healing and Belonging Labs, and they are much different than case consultations child welfare workers may expect. Our Healing and Belonging Labs involve Team Alia working with a small group of agency staff, supervisors, and collateral contacts to discover underlying dynamics and untapped solutions for difficult youth or family situations.

Read More

February 2024 Newsletter

Posted by Anna Kytonen-Coffman on February 29, 2024 at 1:12 PM

Copy of Copy of Orange and White Funny Dating Animated Video Presentation

Read More

Transformational Leadership: Sustainable Change

Posted by Jordyn Jenkins on February 29, 2024 at 9:58 AM

What is transformational leadership and why is it effective? Transformational leadership is a leadership style that promotes positive change by inspiring and motivating those who follow, to achieve a shared vision by showing up with authentic passion and consideration for all individuals involved. There are 4 I’s in transformational leadership:

Read More

The Power of Value-laden Language

Posted by Debi Grebenik on February 29, 2024 at 8:28 AM

Do you want to know one of the best ways to effect change? How we use language is a small, challenging step that yields significant results. Really? That may seem a weird place for us to start. The role of value-laden language has a massive impact on how we are perceived and how we make others feel.

Read More

January 2024 Newsletter

Posted by Anna Kytonen-Coffman on February 1, 2024 at 2:17 PM
Read More

A Comprehensive Change Strategy – and a Powerful Parent Leader – Emerge out of a Co-Design Way

Posted by Michelle Martin on February 1, 2024 at 9:29 AM

The Human Services Department, including Child Protective Services, in Rock County is advancing a partnership with the community to build a system of support that will eliminate racial disparities in family separation. Rock County is addressing its racial disparities which show up most deeply with the Black community in Beloit. With support from Alia, this work focuses across multiple coordinated centers of effort including: 1) advance a wellbeing and supportive culture across Rock County Human Services, 2) shifting CPS practice toward a Family First approach, and 3) bringing forth an empowered Black network to support growth and stability for families in Beloit.

Read More

Busting Child Welfare Myths

Posted by Tiffany Meredith on January 29, 2024 at 10:12 AM

Each year, hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent throughout the United States raising awareness about children in foster care. These campaigns are intended to pull at the heartstrings so that people are called to action. Unfortunately, the picture (nee I say myths) these campaigns paint of unloved and unwanted children frequently epitomizes the toxic narrative that is decimating families under the veil of child protection. I’d like to offer my own counter-narrative to some of these myths so that we may begin to get the story straight.

Read More

Striving for Collective Wellbeing

Posted by Laura Witham on January 24, 2024 at 4:23 PM

At Alia, we work with leadership teams across the country to deepen their connections with one another, align with their organizational missions, visions, and values and create new solutions together. One effective avenue to approaching this work is our Breakthrough Sessions, which provide an immersive experience for teams to explore specific content areas or tackle agency-specific challenges in concentrated blocks of time. In a recent Breakthrough Session with a leadership team, the concept of collective wellbeing was a primary focus. We often say that wellbeing begets wellbeing, so when a leadership team is functioning well (i.e., treating each other well in person and behind the scenes, supporting each other, aligning on the work they do, keeping each other informed, and being human together) their culture filters through to the rest of the organization’s staff.

Read More

New year, new things at Alia!

Posted by Anna Kytonen-Coffman on January 10, 2024 at 1:54 PM

Over the past 18 months, Team Alia has been methodically analyzing our learnings from our first eight years in operation and are using those insights to take things to the next-level, which has allowed us to produce our best outcomes yet!

Read More

2023: Our Year in Review

Posted by Anna Kytonen-Coffman on December 18, 2023 at 9:06 PM

Read More

November 2023 Newsletter

Posted by Anna Kytonen-Coffman on November 30, 2023 at 10:10 AM
Read More

Relationships are the currency of change

Posted by Katie Miller on November 28, 2023 at 8:52 AM

“In organizations, real power and energy is generated through relationships, and the capacity to form those relationships is more important than tasks, functions, roles, and positions.” – Dr. Margaret Wheatley

Read More

Make time to play at work!

Posted by Katie Miller on November 15, 2023 at 8:00 AM

Emerging from the lock-down of the pandemic, the chronic distance-keeping made us all appreciate proximity to others. At Alia we have always prioritized connection, but only after the pandemic did we intentionally commit to investing our in-person time toward play. With 27 staff in seven different states, we gather as a full staff only three or four times a year and so each hour together is precious. Yet we all agree, playing together returns dividends!

Read More

Alia's approach to hosting

Posted by Katie Miller on November 8, 2023 at 7:45 AM

If you’ve experienced an in-person Alia event, you know we delight in treating our guests with great care. We find when there is focused work to be done, meeting your needs and eliminating distractions makes thinking innovatively easier as you bring your whole self to the challenge at hand. A constant source of refreshing drinks, daylight pouring in, your cellphone out of reach, and a beautiful notebook with your name on it just ready for your brilliant reflections are just some of the conditions we create for you to focus on work in front of you (rather than what’s going on back at the office or at home).

Read More

October 2023 Newsletter

Posted by Anna Kytonen-Coffman on October 31, 2023 at 10:05 AM
Read More

Is your agency’s aspiration worth aspiring to? Test it!

Posted by Katie Miller on October 31, 2023 at 8:51 AM

When the 3-year, 4-state, 5-jurisdiction Alia UnSystem Innovation Cohort leaders plus the professional and lived expert guides were goal-setting early in 2018, one important question we had to answer was, “How do we know if our aspiration is good enough?”

Read More

Small moments enhance resilience and wellbeing

Posted by Amber Ross on October 17, 2023 at 8:57 AM

Workforce resilience and wellbeing work is not easy. It’s more than simply walking through a breathing exercise, using a tool, or taking more hot bubble baths. It requires a space for helpers, activists, and others who work with the most marginalized communities to process the pain, secondary trauma, and significant barriers of the work. And, as a facilitator, it involves taking in and listening deeply to what is shared.

Read More

Who do we create stability for?

Posted by Nerée Jackson on October 3, 2023 at 11:00 AM

Have you ever had a youth who bounced around from home to home to home, and finally this home seems to work? Or maybe the youth has moved from group home to residential, then back to a group home, and then back to residential again, and they seem to only “do well” when they are in a residential setting?

Read More

September 2023 Newsletter

Posted by Anna Kytonen-Coffman on September 30, 2023 at 9:57 AM
Read More

Am I an abolitionist?

Posted by Amelia Franck Meyer on September 29, 2023 at 2:53 PM

Am I an abolitionist?

Read More

Concrete supports: the tangible way to support families.

Posted by Christi Carmouze on September 19, 2023 at 3:14 PM

Imagine if building a community for children to thrive is as easy as drawing three concentric circles. In the centermost circle is love, consistency, security, and stability laying the groundwork for children to thrive. In the next circle are protective factors – what parents and caregivers need to create the conditions for the inner circle.Three rings.

Read More

"I know our limits, it's our own thinking."

Posted by Katie Miller on September 6, 2023 at 3:33 PM


What’s possible? How far can we take this? Would that really work? If only we could… <fill in the blank with an audacious dream or ideal scenario>.

Read More

The Power of Apology

Posted by Laura Witham on September 5, 2023 at 8:00 AM
Read More

Ready, set, go

Posted by Amelia Franck Meyer on August 31, 2023 at 10:39 AM

It’s not Go, Set, Ready. It’s ready first.

Read More

August 2023 Newsletter

Posted by Anna Kytonen-Coffman on August 31, 2023 at 9:47 AM
Read More

We are people, not machines

Posted by Katie Miller on August 14, 2023 at 1:00 PM

Dr. Margaret Wheatley, organizational effectiveness expert, poet, biologist, author, and historian reminds changemakers of a fact which we should not need to be reminded: we are people, not machines.

Read More

Stuck on defining your “why”?

Posted by Katie Miller on August 8, 2023 at 1:00 PM

If you work in or around the child welfare system you are likely involved in an effort to change it.  One part of the change process is getting crystal clear on why change needs to happen, exactly what change is being implementing, and why we believe it will work.

Read More

Do you know how you really feel?

Posted by Katie Miller on August 1, 2023 at 1:00 PM

Let’s start with a one-question quiz:

Read More

July 2023 Newsletter

Posted by Anna Kytonen-Coffman on July 31, 2023 at 9:36 AM
Read More

Root cause analysis on foster care re-entry rate for Black children in MN

Posted by Katie Miller on July 20, 2023 at 2:56 PM

We often hear that Minnesota is a great place to live…if you’re white. Wellbeing statistics favor white people in Minnesota and that includes experiences with the child welfare system. Black and Native children are removed from their homes at rates 5 and 16 times higher, respectively, than white children.

Read More

Finding common ground in a polarized political climate

Posted by Katie Miller on July 19, 2023 at 12:57 PM

One thing most people can agree on is how important it is to keep children safe and families together.

Read More

Take time to de-bias yourself with truth and love

Posted by Katie Miller on July 14, 2023 at 4:08 PM

Reflecting on the week, you can always tell yourself two truths:

Read More

Independence Day: a celebration of liberty and invitation for deep healing

Posted by Katie Miller on July 3, 2023 at 12:49 PM

Frederick Douglass delivered an Independence Day-themed speech to the Rochester Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Association on July 5, 1852, in New York. He spoke directly to both the freedom and courage and the oppression and harm inherent in this national anniversary.

Read More

June 2023 Newsletter

Posted by Anna Kytonen-Coffman on June 30, 2023 at 3:57 PM
Read More

Happy PRIDE! Love is love is love is love.

Posted by Katie Miller on June 23, 2023 at 1:00 PM

Earlier this year Texas governor Greg Abbott labeled gender-affirming care for minors as child abuse and called on professionals to report parents to child protective services for providing this care to their minor children. Bans to gender-affirming care are in effect or being considered in more than 20 states across the country.

Read More

Challenging false assumptions in child welfare

Posted by Amelia Franck Meyer on June 16, 2023 at 11:15 AM

Recently, I’ve been trying out some new topics for presentation in an effort to be more direct about the challenges we are facing in child welfare and the incredible effectiveness of the on-the-ground solutions we are using in demonstration projects (seeing reductions in out-of-home care averaging in excess of 70% and residential reductions of more than 50%).

Read More

Cultural connections sacred, ICWA upheld

Posted by Katie Miller on June 15, 2023 at 4:45 PM

After months of waiting, the Supreme Court delivered a decision on Brackeen vs Haaland, a vote determining the constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). It passed and ICWA remains intact. Tribes retain sovereignty over their people, family connections reign as sacred, and remaining rooted in the culture you were born into is a fundamental right.

Read More

From the Alia UnSystem Innovation Cohort: What if we simply asked families?

Posted by Katie Miller on June 1, 2023 at 11:45 AM

At Alia, we carry forward the lessons learned from the 5-team, 14-jurisdiction, 3-year UnSystem Innovation Cohort.

Read More