• This Bright Spot has been reviewed and approved by our community of impacted parents.

Parent review feedback summary

  • Parent reviewers broadly recommend Dear Leaders for systems if implemented as intended, with accountability to the community.
  • Some reviewers reported skepticism for systems workers being in deep relationship with the community because of mistrust due to past harm done.
  • Reviewers also reiterated the need for trust, recommended public ownership of harm done, and emphasized the need for buy-in starting from top leadership.

What is the intervention?

Dear Leaders is a set of theme-based discussion prompts and activities developed by lived experts and leaders in the field to help prepare child welfare teams to do community co-design as trustworthy partners. The materials can be used for individual self-reflection, with your leadership team, or with your peers. These activities help teams do the internal work required to becoming trusted partners to families and communities. 

What makes it a Bright Spot?

Dear Leaders was developed by a group of lived experts and child welfare leaders, facilitated through a design process led by IDEO. Initially the goal was to create a toolkit for jurisdictions to rebuild post-COVID through the lens of impacted families. Instead, however, they developed this set of materials they identified to address a critical and forgotten pre-step to rebuilding with community: being a trusted partner.

In January 2021, Alia convened a small group of lived experts and local leaders, and with skilled IDEO designers, developed the themes, questions, and materials they called “Dear Leaders.” This resource was created to guide the shift toward authentic engagement, building trusted relationships, and co-designing with families. If leaders are to create something new, they must work with families and communities to build it.

Dear Leaders can help guide teams into right relationship with their communities, helping to ensure partnerships are rich, healing, and long-lasting.

What steps can you take?

Bring Dear Leaders to your agency to become a more trustworthy partner in community co-design. The resource is organized into five principles, one color-coded chapter for each principle. Each principle has focus areas and within each focus area there are activities. You can start at the beginning and work through page-by-page as listed or start with the theme that most resonates with you.


This link may help provide additional context and information about this family-approved resource for systems change.

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