Raising the voice of families

CHSW empowers families to share their experiences and opinions with us to help not only improve the work we do, but to change policies and systems that impact the lives of all children and families throughout the country. Their voices are the drivers of what has shaped our work for the past century and will continue to be at the forefront of how we develop services into the future.

Alesia Cannady is one of the many making a larger difference. The early learning policy council encouraged Alesia, who is raising her granddaughter, to join parents and caregivers who are given leadership opportunities to provide direction and guidance for our early learning services in addition to advocating for families in the state legislature.

“CHSW believes in a bottom up philosophy of listening to the community’s needs and doesn’t make all decisions from the top down,” Alesia said. We are a tapestry, a blend of colors and ideas with the same goal – make our children’s future better.”

Alesia hopes to create change for other grandparents raising their grandchildren and recently shared her story in The Seattle Times. She also received a 2019 Parent Recognition Award for her community work from the Department of Children, Youth and Families.

Alesia’s involvement with CHSW began shortly after the birth of her granddaughter. Her son and his partner were struggling with addiction and homelessness and expecting a baby. Alesia learned the child would be removed from her son’s care upon birth and placed into foster care. Alesia was awarded full custody in 2014.

“Aleiyah is family and I knew I would provide better care as her grandmother than strangers would,” Alesia said.

Alesia was referred to CHSW’s Genesee Early Learning Program where her granddaughter benefited from learning opportunities and dental services.

“CHSW listens to me and we have a collaborative partnership,” Alesia said. “My granddaughter feels safe at CHSW and as a result, she’s speaks up for herself.”

Alesia’s work with the community started in 1994 when she created Women United Seattle, where support and assistance is given to caregivers who may struggle in caring for loved ones. Threads of Change is a program under Women United where grandmothers explore creativity and their love of sewing. 

Jennifer Parsons is the marketing communications manager for CHSW.