2023: Our Year in Review

December 18, 2023 at 9:06 PM |
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As the year comes to a close, we’re all reflecting on the past and planning for a new year. Within Alia, and with our partners, we find ourselves asking, “How are the lives of children and families markedly different because of your work?” In other words, “What meaningful impact are we having in the world?” Are the resources in our sector supporting organizations only, or is there a measurable positive impact on the lives of children and their families? These questions are critically important to ensure that we continue on a pathway towards transformation, not just systems improvement.

This year, I’m proud of the amazing outcomes that Alia has helped our partners achieve. Specifically in our transformational projects, our partners have achieved more than a 70% reduction in the number of children living in foster care, without sacrificing overall safety outcomes. We are in partnership with the University of Minnesota’s Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare to engage in a deep exploration of all of our services to ensure we are having the level of impact intended. In the New Year, we will release an Impact Report outlining the impacts of Alia’s work. Alia is engaged in deep government redesign on the ground, side-by-side with our brave and innovative partners, and we are seeing the significant shifts in mindsets and practice necessary to build a new way of work.

At Alia, we continue to cultivate community with impacted parents and prepare our systems partners to engage together in co-designing new approaches to keeping children safely with, not from, their families. Alia has convened and led numerous community co-design projects in multiple states, including most recently convening system-impacted parents with child welfare staff and leaders to co-design a practice and performance model for child welfare social workers. Having parents design what they would like the social workers to be held accountable to is a revolutionary approach. Alia is also helping to stand-up community-led responses and investing in communities to reduce the number of children separated from their families.

2024 is going to be a pivotal year for children and families as we continue to work with parents and systems partners to build new ways of work. Each year, we build on our trusted partnerships and our collective learnings to change the way child welfare works, learning and teaching new approaches that keep countless numbers of children safely with their families. We’re so grateful for your partnership and support as we walk with you towards a future where all children are thriving within their families and communities.

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Partner Highlights

Equity Inquiry in Ramsey County

The work Alia has been doing alongside the leadership team of the Children and Family Services Department in Ramsey County represents a counter-narrative to the roadblock erected for much needed innovation in child welfare. It is aimed at exploring system connections that both prevent harm, while practicing and growing transformative ways to respond when harm does happen.

It is an intentional investment by this team to support the flourishing of their collective best selves, while focusing on “impact accountability” on children and families. The process focuses first on growing the capacity of the child welfare leadership team by requiring them to question and to struggle with how practical, attainable, and needed changes to processes and relationships within child welfare and communities are aligned with the value of equity.

Equity Audit Framework 9 20 22-1Team Alia introduced the process of equity inquiry through the lens of imperatives (inclusion, equity, healing and justice) and an equity framework to give context for the thinking that shapes collaborative work with communities, providers, and other system partners.

Reflective and critical inquiry is applied to multiple sources of information and decision points resulting in actionable insight about the efficacy of services and system encounters that help to keep families out of crisis and children safe. The Ramsey County team is in the process of engaging front line staff in this inquiry, as well as specific communities and impactful system partners, to create inclusive and diverse perspectives that are more likely to shed light on what is needed for families to thrive.

Read more about our work with Ramsey County on our website.


System Transformation in Rock County

RCHS wht behind circleThe goals of the Rock County Equity Project are to reduce the number of children placed out-of-home, eliminate racial disparities in CPS, and engage with families with increased satisfaction. This year, Rock County Human Services staff alongside impacted Beloit-based parents ("The BeeHive") have focused on ways to bring the Idea Book: A New Future for Beloit Families to life.

The Idea Book, resulting from two years of system readiness and community mobilizing, and a design sprint with impacted parents, is a co-created, mutually accountable actionable plan from the perspective of Black families in Beloit to minimize impact of CPS by creating a beloved community of support.

Stay tuned in 2024 for continued Rock County Equity Project updates, as well as two new resources that introduce important guidance for system leaders who are ready to begin their transformation journey.


Alia Resources

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Our new online learning series is a five-module series that will introduce your team to UnSystem approaches, which shift focus to the whole family, build family wellbeing, and support healthy child development.

New to the Alia website this year is our News & Insights page, full of thoughts from members of Team Alia with child welfare insight and exciting happenings, as well as Alia's monthly newsletters.

This year we added 10 additional resources to Bright Spots, an online resource library of child welfare practices reviewed and recommended by parents who have been impacted by the system.


New to the team!

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We were so grateful to welcome four new team members this year (L-R): Melody Thao, Bree Bussey, Devin Graf, and Harrison Holcomb. Melody works as our Office Manager and leads our hospitality efforts; Bree is a Senior Director of Learning who works with our system partners; Devin is our Marketing and Communications project manager who helps us produce much of the content you see online; and Harrison is one of our Directors of Philanthropy, helping us secure funding for the important work we do. All four have been great additions to our team and bring much needed perspective, joy and dedication to our mission to equip and transform systems to create conditions for children and families to thrive!

With immense gratitude, Team Alia is grateful for all the ways you support the important work of keeping more families safely together. We wish for you a sense of deep connection and belonging, now and into the coming year!