June 2023 Newsletter

June 30, 2023 at 3:57 PM |
Posted by:

animated Alia with rainbows

A note from our CEO...

I’ve been working on some new presentation topics in an effort to be even more direct about the challenges we are facing in child welfare and to share the effectiveness of on-the-ground solutions we are seeing in our work at Alia.  

With guidance and wisdom from Isabel Blanco, Alia’s Managing Director of Transformational Change, I recently presented on, “The Unseen Loops and Links that Hold our System in Place,” at the National CASA Conference. As part of this presentation, I shared some of the false assumptions which drive our beliefs and keep our current, harmful system in place, illuminated by the Cycles of Suffering diagram. (Unfortunately, you likely recognize this pattern.)  

Ironically, our desire to keep “all” kids safe results in higher caseloads which actually makes kids less safe. There will never be “enough” (people, time, money, energy, etc.) to meet the self-perpetuating cycle of our current intervention.  

The good news is that systems can be disrupted at any point to create change! To keep children safely with, not from their families, we must examine the mechanics of the system and intervene at every point. 

Copy of 2021 A Year in Review (1200 x 500 px)-Feb-28-2023-09-38-21-2091-PM-1

Read more from Amelia, including five core (false) assumptions of the system.

Rethinking safety and separation for

Reunification Month

Amelia has been across the country in recent months – from DC and Baltimore, to Seattle, Fort Worth, Wyoming and St. Louis – challenging industry assumptions about parents, children, safety, and the child welfare system.

The child welfare system is there to keep children safe from harm. Only, it’s not. And, it can’t.

Guaranteed freedom from harm does not exist. Between no four walls in this country or in the world can we ever keep children 100% safe. Further, how can child’s safety possibly be best determined by strangers?

When there is no need to separate, there will be no reunions to celebrate – a tradeoff we’re striving for at Alia.-3

In our industry, June is celebrated as Reunification Month, when children are removed from their homes and then returned – a reunion to celebrate. Amelia is pushing audiences to go even further in their thinking about how safety is achieved, obsoleting the need to separate. When there is no need to separate, there will be no reunions to celebrate – a tradeoff we’re striving for at Alia.

Viewing child safety as outside of and away from families of origin is a false paradigm. For some families suffering from generations of unhealed trauma, maintaining safe connections may take an incredible investment of resources. Still, when given the option to keep families together and invest in them boldly, or separate and suffer the painful, long-lasting consequences, we work toward keeping families safely connected. Reunions are to be celebrated, yet the relational bonds between family members are too precious to sever.

At Alia, we celebrate reunions and National Reunification Month. At the same time, we will never stop pushing the industry across the country to do whatever it takes to keep families safely together.

News & Ideas-2

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!

  • Happy Pride Month! There have been recent gains in the openness to and legal protection for LGBTQ+ rights (and not without pushback). With an estimated 30% of youth in foster care identifying as LBGTQ+, it’s critical for child welfare agencies to protect these youth from discrimination and harm. Leaders, workers, and foster parents must educate themselves around LGBTQ+ issues.
  • 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.

  • At Alia, we carry forward the lessons learned from the UnSystem Innovation Cohort. In the third Cohort case study report we read this Cohort idea: “What if our only barometer was a 1-question survey: Do you feel you are better or worse off having been engaged in the child welfare system? We could simply do more of what helped people along and less of what didn’t.”  Could it be that simple?

Bright Spots logo-1

Resource Highlight

Untitled design-4-2Bright 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.

In honor of Pride Month, our June highlight is All Children, All Families (ACAF), a complete practice guide for your child welfare agency to comprehensively incorporate an LGBTQ+ inclusive approach.

ACAF is organized around seven key areas of policy and practice benchmarks for LGBTQ+ inclusion:  Non-Discrimination, Staff Training, Rolling Out the Welcome Mat, Parent Best Practices, Youth Best Practices, Sustainability and Capacity Building, and Innovation & Leadership.

Visit findbrightspots.org to learn more about this practice and how it can be implemented in your agency.

Explore Bright Spots