Policy Resource

Safe Babies Court Teams: 10 Core Components

Download Files Feb 5, 2016

The Safe Babies Court Teams Project is built on the implementation of 10 core components. Each Safe Babies Court Team brings the strengths of a collaborative community to the task of improving outcomes for infants and toddlers in foster care.

  1. Judicial Leadership: Each Court Team requires the leadership of a local judge who, because of their unique position of authority in the processing of child welfare cases, can serve as a catalyst for change.

  2. Local Community Coordinator: Each Court Team community requires a local Community Coordinator who provides child development expertise to the judge and the Court Team, and coordinates services and resources for infants and toddlers.

  3. Active Court Team Focused 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. The team meets monthly to learn about available services, identify gaps in services, and address cross cutting issues raised by the cases that members of the Court Team are monitoring.

  4. Targeting Infants and Toddlers in Out-of-Home Care: The Court Team focuses on foster care cases involving children younger than 36 months. Comprehensive developmental, medical and mental health services are incorporated into the case plan to ensure that the child’s well-being is given primary consideration in the case. An additional emphasis is placed on finding the child a medical home.

  5. Placement and Concurrent Planning: To reduce placement changes, the Court Teams use 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.

  6. 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.

  7. Parent-Child Contact (visitation): Parent-child contact is a critical way to help the child and parents experience one another as loving partners in their relationship. It is the job of the Safe Babies family team to create an individualized visitation plan that meets parents and children where they are and is designed to provide the level of contact and support, ranging from relatively light supervision up to intensive mental health interventions, that will promote the most positive outcome for the child as well as the family.

  8. Continuum of Mental Health Services: Children traumatized by their parents’ negligent or abusive care, removal from the only home they have ever known, and placement in foster care will likely need mental health services. The parents are also victims of traumatic childhoods that have interfered with their ability to parent safely. They too need mental health services. Each Safe Babies Court Team develops a mental health continuum that has been shown to be effective in meeting the needs of infants and toddlers and their families.

  9. Training and Technical Assistance: ZERO TO THREE staff and consultants provide training and technical assistance to the 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.

  10. Evaluation: At the local level and at ZERO TO THREE, great emphasis is placed on evaluating the SBCT approach to determine our impact on helping infants and toddlers in foster care reach safe nurturing permanency as quickly as possible. Each Court Team collects information on: knowledge enhancement among child welfare professionals, systems change, and outcomes for children and families.

To learn more about the core components, download the attached file.

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