The Safe Babies Court Teams project has 10 core components. These components, implemented in each Safe Babies Court Team site, are critical for the project to function effectively and successfully. Each core component is listed and described below.
Judicial Leadership: Each Safe Babies Court Team requires the leadership of a local judge who, because of her unique position of authority in the processing of child welfare cases, is a catalyst for change.
Local Community Coordinator: Each Safe Babies Court Team community requires a local community coordinator who can provide child development expertise to the judge and the Court Team, and coordinate services and resources for infants and toddlers.
Active Court Teams Focus on the Big Picture: Each community has a team of key community stakeholders devoted to restructuring how the community responds to the needs of maltreated infants and toddlers. This group meets monthly to learn about available resources, identify gaps in services, and discuss issues raised by the cases that members of the Court Team are monitoring.
Targeting Infants and Toddlers in Out-of-Home Care: The Safe Babies Court Team focuses on foster care cases involving children younger than 36 months.
Placement and Concurrent Planning: To reduce placements, the Safe Babies Court Teams uses concurrent planning a technique which requires the quick identification of, and placement with, caregivers who are willing to become the child’s permanent family if reunification becomes impossible.
Family Team Meetings Monthly to Review All Open Cases: Each month, the community coordinator and a team of service providers, attorneys, and child welfare agency staff meet to review the family’s progress.
Parent-Child Contact (Visitation): Research shows frequent visitation increases the likelihood of reunification, reduces time in out-of-home care, and promotes healthy attachment.1 The Safe Babies Court Teams focuses on increasing visitation by expanding the opportunities (e.g., doctor’s appointments) and the locations (e.g. the foster home, the birth parents’ home).
Continuum of Mental Health Services: Children traumatized by their parents’ care may need mental health services. These parents also need mental health services to help them overcome the reasons for their behavior. To meet these needs each Safe Babies Court Team develops a continuum of mental health services that includes services such as child-parent psychotherapy.
Training and Technical Assistance: ZERO TO THREE staff and consultants provide training and technical assistance to the Safe Babies Court Team community on topics such as: infant and toddler development; parenting interventions; services available to foster children in the community; trauma; and parental substance abuse, domestic violence, mental illness, and poverty.
Evaluation: Each Safe Babies Court Team collects information on knowledge enhancement among professionals in the child welfare system, systems change, and services for children and families in order to evaluate its work.
To learn more about these core components, click here.
1 Smariga, M. (2007). Visitation with Infants and Toddlers in Foster Care: What Judges and Attorneys Need to Know. Washington, DC: American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law and ZERO TO THREE Policy Center.