Helping Families with Healing and Belonging

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

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.

Alia creates a judgment-free atmosphere. Instead of checking boxes to see if protocols have been followed, Alia honors the work and effort it has taken to get the case to the place it is. We aren’t concerned about whether the right services have been in place; we seek to understand what has happened in the family and find connections to those events and the current situation. In one lab, we learned that the father’s punishing behavior might stem from fear that his daughter was taking on traits of the mother’s mental illness. We connected that to the grief and loss a person feels when someone they love changes, so the participants created a plan for the case worker to approach the father from a different perspective – not as an abusive parent, but as a scared, hurt, and protective parent.

We share insights we’ve gained from experiences around the country and normalize difficulties and frustrations. Participants have expressed that it feels reassuring to know that their agency isn’t the only one that struggles with high turnover or overburdened foster care systems.  Instead of dwelling on the things that are missing, Healing and Belonging Labs focus on alternative ways of meeting needs.

Alia supports creative problem-solving. At a recent lab, the team explored alternative ways for a parent and teenager to find common ground and respect for each other. Once the team started thinking about the situation as needing a way to neutralize the parent/child fight for power and control, the ideas started flowing from multiple participants, including methods for building natural parent-child relationship dynamics through the suggested strategies. It was a beautiful “ah-ha” moment for a team that was previously feeling stuck on how to proceed.

Whatever the situation presented, participants walk away with new mindsets, new ways to create safety, or a refreshed perspective. Last week as we ended a session, the case manager stated, “I didn’t know what I was going to do. This has given me a lot of things to think about, and I am looking forward to trying this approach.”

Curious how we can help your agency discover new solutions to your most challenging cases? Contact us today!