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The Safe Babies Court Team™ Approach

Transforming child welfare into prevention
and family well-being.
Every seven minutes, an infant or toddlers is removed from home due to alleged abuse or neglect.

When this happens, children are often placed in a child welfare system that has not developed policies and practices with the needs of infants and toddlers in mind.

The ZERO TO THREE Safe Babies Court Team™ approach transforms child welfare into the practice of prevention and family well-being by using the science of early childhood development to meet the urgent needs of infants and toddlers. 

The program connects very young children and their families with needed community support and services, with a goal of advancing health and well-being. 

About the Safe Babies Court Team™ Approach

Every baby has enormous potential. Every family wants to help their child reach this potential and needs support from their community – family, friends, caregivers, educators. Some families experience great stress while raising their children due to environmental conditions—community violence, racism, trauma, or health issues—challenging their ability to provide safety and stability.  

We all have a shared responsibility to nurture and protect each child’s potential. ZERO TO THREE works to advance federal, state, and local policy and systems change to strengthen families. Through a coordinated system of formal and informal support, communities can buffer the effects of environmental conditions on families before a crisis occurs.  

Recognizing this, ZERO TO THREE created the Safe Babies Court Team approach, rooted in developmental science, which aims to: 

  1. increase awareness among those who work with maltreated infants and toddlers about the negative impact of abuse and neglect and the effects of trauma on young children; and, 
  2. change local systems to improve outcomes for families and prevent future court involvement in the lives of very young children. 

The Safe Babies Court Team approach is changing the trajectory for infants and toddlers in foster care. We support communities and families to create the safe, stable, nurturing environment children need to reach their potential. Our programs nurture the social and emotional development of babies, empower parents and communities, and build protective factors into each child’s life. For families that interact with the child welfare system, ZERO TO THREE’s evidence-based Safe Babies Court Team approach ignites collective action in local communities to strengthen families experiencing extreme hardships and meet the urgent needs of infants and toddlers who are under court jurisdiction and/or in foster care. 

The Safe Babies Court Team approach does not promote a “one-size-fits-all” solution to the challenges faced by families within the child welfare system or by the system itself. The fundamentals of the approach can and must be tailored to the local community to ensure effectiveness. Results show that their children are reaching permanency three times faster than infants and toddlers in the general foster care population. Almost two-thirds of babies and toddlers are reunified or find permanent homes with members of their families. We envision a society where the conditions in which families live, learn, work and play cultivate well-being, ultimately eliminating the need for any baby to be removed from their family. 

How do we know the Safe Babies Court Team Approach is Working?

Related Resources

Child and family adversity is a public issue, a preventable problem, and a solvable problem.

We all have a stake and role in outcomes that matter for young children and their families.