January 2024 Newsletter

February 1, 2024 at 2:17 PM |
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The Impact of Co-Design: A Comprehensive Change Strategy and Powerful Parent Leader

by Michelle Martin, Senior Director of Learning

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Rock County, Wisconsin's Human Services Department, including Child Protective Services, is advancing a partnership with the community to build a system of support to eliminate racial disparities in family separation. Our work today is driven by a co-design process in 2022 with Rock staff and a team of Black parents from Beloit who have been impacted by CPS in the past. This team came together in reconciliation, which started with a statement of apology from Kate Luster, the Rock County HSD Director. This apology, along with an intentional process centered on the voice and wellbeing of the parent co-design team, set the tone for a new way of working together. Guided by our Pillars for Engaging Lived Experts, we work to create a space where impacted parents can feel heard by the very people who represent the system. Over time, the barriers fall away and the human connection and liberation from the past leads to seeing new solutions. Ones that meet people where they are to see and elevate their unlimited potential.

KeSheke Marsh joined the BeeHive – the co-design parent team – as an unlikely participant. Ten years ago, during a mental health crisis, she lost parental rights for four of her five children. Yet when asked to participate in co-design in 2021, she decided to re-engage. In a co-design meeting with key stakeholders, KeSheke described the impact the process has had on her:


Read Michelle's full reflection

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Here are some ideas that got us thinking this month. Visit our website to read the full-length posts, and join us in the conversations online!

  • Striving for Collective WellbeingIs your leadership team feeling dried out, underfed, spindly and reaching for light? This culture filters through to staff. We are not individual, potted plants but more like the Aspen tree grove, which are interconnected by their roots and sharing nutrients and resources to support each other.
  • Busting Child Welfare Myths. Each year, hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent throughout the United States raising awareness about children in foster care. Unfortunately, these campaigns frequently epitomize the toxic narrative that is decimating families under the veil of child protection. Here is a counter-narrative to some of these myths.

  • We are so grateful to be included in the Winter 2023 edition of the Family Justice Journal! Scroll through to find a number of articles highlighting the need for belonging, including The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) as a Model of Support for Belonging, written by Alia colleagues Amelia Franck Meyer and Bree Bussey.

Social Media assetsJoin Team Alia! We are currently seeking a Chief Transformation Officer to lead our transformation teams, responsible for developing and implementing the strategy to build a Proof of Concept that children can stay safely in their families and communities.

Learn more and apply 





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Bright Spots Featured ImageBright Spots is a first-of-its-kind online resource library of child welfare practices reviewed and recommended by parents who have been impacted by the system.

Restorative Family Mediation is an alternative resolution process focused on restoration, collaboration, accountability, and healing. It is 100% voluntary and uses a restorative circle approach, distributing power equally among social workers and families. The goal is to move from hostility to constructive dialogue, for restoration and resolution, not compliance. RFM is run by the Katallasso Group in MN.


Visit findbrightspots.org to learn more about these models and ways you can bring their vision to life in your organization!

Explore Bright Spots

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Applying Trauma Informed Practices for Youth in Care is the second module in our UnSystem Toolkit, which looks at practices and interventions for building trust and stability, youth's sense of self, and supportive connections to promote healing.

Visit our website to learn more about the UnSystem Toolkit and all its the modules, introducing your team to the fundamentals of change!

Purchase the UnSystem Toolkit