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Meeting Families Where They Are: My Journey to Help Transform Child Welfare

Safe Babies TA Specialist, Andria Peek, reflects on the work she does and how her role contributes to the larger goal of transforming the child welfare system.

Getting in Focus

From a young age I had the desire to help others.

After moving to Florida, I joined a large hospital and worked to provide substance use treatment services to children ages 13-17. Although I learned a lot, I noticed that many of the kids didn’t improve and often had to return for further care. It was here where I truly learned how much relationships matter and how important it is to meet people where THEY are. At the same time, I was starting my own family, which changed my perspective.

Andria Peek in a professional setting
Andria showcasing the importance of trauma-informed courts.
Andria and Judge Tepper attend a National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges meeting.
Andria and Judge Tepper attend a National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges meeting.
Judge Tepper interacting with the families she and Andria assist.
Andria attends an equity training for child welfare professionals led by Judge Tepper.

A Life-Changing Opportunity

During my second pregnancy, my agency redirected funding to a new outreach and prevention initiative.

I was offered a life-changing opportunity to work with a local court judge on a Trauma- Informed Court project. This allowed me to streamline care coordination from the courts to behavioral health services and supports for parents and their children involved in child welfare. Sitting in Judge Lynn Tepper’s court, I was amazed by the welcoming environment. It was filled with stuffed animals, books, toys, baskets of healthy snacks, and therapy dogs. I collaborated with Judge Tepper and stakeholders to create a more trauma-responsive community.

Safe Babies
Safe Babies, a network that serves as the Infant-Toddler Court Program National Resource Center, ignites collective action in state and communities to transform child welfare into the practice of child and family well-being by strengthening families and preventing the need for babies and toddlers to be removed from their homes.

Breaking Down Silos to Transform Child Welfare

Several months into this role, Judge Tepper informed me about a Community Coordinator position working to implement a national approach called Safe Babies aimed at improving child and family well-being.

After attending an annual Cross Sites Meeting, it opened my eyes about the importance of early intervention, infant mental health, and most importantly, the relational, cross-system collaboration that was breaking down traditional systemic silos. 

This experience solidified my aspiration to work at ZERO TO THREE and supporting other states and communities transform their systems into a child well-being system.

Although my journey wasn’t straightforward, I consider it an honor to do the work I do every day. The impact of Safe Babies goes beyond individual families and babies – it is also transforming how professionals are working with families, communities, local systems, states and hopefully, one day, across the country.

In a recent episode of the "Fostering the Future" podcast, Andria chats with the hosts about her work, the Safe Babies approach and how the team is able to create different outcomes for families in the child welfare system, often leading to reunification.

Learn more about Safe Babies and upcoming trainings and events for the child welfare community.

A graphic promoting the ZERO TO THREE Conference for early childhood professionals.
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Infant-Toddler Court Program National Resource Center
The Infant-Toddler Court Program National Resource Center supports wide-scale dissemination of the Safe Babies approach, specialized support for children birth to three years of age in foster care, or at risk of removal, and their families. This evidence-based approach connects babies and their families with the support and services they need to ensure healthy development and lasting permanency. Working in […]