The Safe Babies Court Team™

The information in this program outline is provided by the program representative and edited by the CEBC staff. This program has been rated by the CEBC in the following Topic Areas:

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About This Program

Target Population: Infants and toddlers up to age 3 entering foster care and their families

For children/adolescents ages: 0 – 3

For parents/caregivers of children ages: 0 – 3

Brief Description

The Safe Babies Court Team™ (SBCT) is a community engagement and systems change initiative focused on improving how the courts, child welfare agencies, and related child-serving organizations work together to improve and expedite services for young foster children. The SBCT is designed to:

  • Protect babies from further harm and address the damage already done
  • Expose the structural issues in the child welfare system that prevent families from succeeding

Each SBCT is convened by a judge with jurisdiction over foster care cases and child welfare agency leaders, and will include other judges, child welfare staff, attorneys, service providers, and community leaders. Once convened, an agency in that area contracts with ZERO TO THREE to hire and supervise staff, oversee program implementation, and work collaboratively with the local leaders who make final decisions about what works in their community. Once the SBCT is established, they work with individual families, learning important lessons that are applied to subsequent cases, creating the basis for wider practice and systems change.

To facilitate the work of the SBCT, ZERO TO THREE also provides the scientific context, a forum for system reform discussions, and increased national attention on infants and toddlers in foster care.

Program Goals:

The goals for the The Safe Babies Court Team™ (SBCT) are to:

  • Increase knowledge about the negative impact of abuse and neglect on very young children:
    • Objective #1: Provide training to judicial, legal, mental health, child welfare, and early childhood professionals on the social and emotional development of infants and toddlers, infant mental health, historical trauma, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, childhood sexual abuse and other issues of concern to the Court Teams.
    • Objective #2: Incorporate leaders of each SBCT into the national learning community hosted by ZERO TO THREE.
  • Change local systems to improve outcomes and prevent future court involvement in the lives of very young children:
    • Objective #1: Engage multi-disciplinary partners in the activities of each Court Team.
    • Objective #2: Improve/expedite services for children and families:
      • All children monitored by the Court Team are screened for developmental delays and receive appropriate services as needed.
      • No child experiences more than two changes in placement.
      • All children monitored by the Court Team participate in two or more weekly supervised visits with their parents and one or more visits with siblings unless parent-child contact exacerbates the trauma that led to the child’s removal.
      • Within the first 60 days after the child’s removal from his parents, each case plan includes a concurrent plan for achieving permanency for the child with committed relatives or foster parents willing to assume a permanent role in the child’s life if the birth parents are unable to overcome the problems that led to the child’s removal.
      • The child and parents participate in a mental health assessment documenting strengths and weaknesses in their interactions and attachment to each other.
      • Permanency is achieved within 18 months. Cases that require more than 12 months for the child to reach permanency will be reviewed for factors causing the extended period of foster care.

Contact Information

Lucy Hudson, MS
Agency/Affiliation: ZERO TO THREE
Phone: (202) 246-1276
Fax: (202) 638-0851

Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: May 2016

Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: November 2016

Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: March 2014