• June 2012
  • Vol. 13, No. 5

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New Issue of Judges' Page

The most recent statistics indicate that approximately half of the children entering foster care are younger than age 5. As a result, State court judges increasingly are called upon to make decisions for the safety, permanency, and well-being of these particularly vulnerable children. The latest issue of the newsletter The Judges' Page presents an array of articles and resources to support judges who work with the families of babies, toddlers, and young children involved in dependency court proceedings.

For this issue, Lucy Hudson, director of the Safe Babies Court Teams Project at ZERO TO THREE, collected 18 articles written by judges, professors, psychologists, parents, and others. Some of the articles feature the work of State and local courts, including:

  • The Court Teams for Maltreated Infants and Toddlers Initiative teams a judge with a community coordinator to convene representatives from the local child welfare system, legal system, and service providers to form a team to address the developmental needs of young children in the child welfare system. The initiative has had a significant effect on how quickly children exit the foster care system.
  • Preremoval conferences in Iowa bring together parents and their support system in meetings to discuss a plan for removal, thereby reducing trauma to children and accelerating the permanency process.
  • The Family Wellness Court for Infants and Toddlers is a collaborative approach to service delivery and dependency case monitoring that is designed to provide effective services to parents who are addicted to drugs and at risk of losing custody of their young children.
  • "Helping Babies from the Bench" is a 1-day training seminar focused on the development of abused and neglected infants and toddlers and on court improvement practices that would ensure the best possible outcomes are achieved for these children.
  • The Polk County (Iowa) Model Court's Fatherhood Initiative has implemented changes in the way child welfare cases proceed to identify and engage fathers more effectively.
  • In the Parent Partner program parents who have successfully completed drug and/or alcohol treatment are recruited by the professionals who have worked with them. These Parent Partners then work to support parents currently facing the challenge of treatment.

Other articles address issues that can be factors in dependency cases, including the value of understanding the developmental needs of infant and toddlers, the impact of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder or childhood sexual abuse on child and family functioning, and the need to understand the cultural context of court-involved families, particularly African-American and Native American families.

The Judges' Page newsletter is published by the National CASA Association and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. This issue is available on the National CASA Association's website:

http://www.casaforchildren.org/site/c.mtJSJ7MPIsE/b.7997865/k.E675/March_2012.htm

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