Did you know that every six minutes an infant or toddler is removed from his or her home in the U.S. due to abuse or neglect?
We know that more than one-quarter of victims (28.5%) of maltreatment are under the age of three. Children experience further trauma from their families' involvement in the child welfare system, which can result in lengthy separations and/or multiple placements.
The Safe Babies Court Team™ approach is a community engagement and systems change initiative that is changing the trajectory for infants and toddlers in foster care. Families are embraced by a team and given targeted and timely advice.
Through community-wide collaboration led by the judges who oversee child maltreatment cases, children ages 0-3 and their families are receiving focused attention that recognizes individual strengths and challenges. Interventions are offered to meet the specific needs of each child and parent.
The Safe Babies Court Team™ Approach
At the heart of the Safe Babies Court Team™ approach is professionals coming together, in partnership, across sectors to engage in collaborative and proactive work. This teamwork depends on leadership and staffing that supports the shift away from doing business as usual and towards improvement - always keeping the urgent development needs of infants and toddlers at the center of decision making.
Frequent review hearings allow the judge to provide close oversight of the progress on the case. This judicial oversight goes hand-in-hand with the family team's proactive, problem solving work. Pre- or post-removal conferences are critical, setting the collaborative tone for the family team meetings and launching vigorous family engagement efforts from the start.
The judge, community coordinator and family team ensure that child and family needs are systematically and fully identified as early as possible in the case process and that referrals are made in a highly way to address specific needs with effective services and interventions.
All professionals involved in the Safe Babies Court Team™ understand the impact of the families' trauma history, including experiences of maltreatment, on adults and their very young children. They collaborate in creating an atmosphere that promotes healing and resilience for very young children and their families.
Continuous quality improvement is the engine that drives effective uptake and sustainability of the Safe Babies Courts Team™ approach. This means systematically collecting data and using it to reflect on and implement needed improvements.
Improved Outcomes for Children and their Families:
There are currently 103 Safe Babies Court sites in 29 states across the U.S. The Safe Babies Court Team™ approach is recognized by the California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare as demonstrating "promising research evidence." Studies have shown that families who participate in Safe Babies Court:
Additionally, the Safe Babies Court Team™ approach is estimated to save more than $14,000 per family served.
Safe Babies Court Site Personnel:
The Honorable Michelle M. Hurley
The Honorable M. Todd Thigpen
The Honorable Mindy W. Zimmerman
Community Coordinator: Zay Sanders
The Honorable Anne Gue Jones