Protecting babies in the child welfare system.
Safe Babies seeks to lessen the long-term impact of neglect, increase the likelihood of reunification, and ensure policies that guide the movement of infants and toddlers in the child welfare system are developmentally informed. Together we can build a better system for maltreated infants and toddlers by addressing service protocols and making visitation better for all involved.
Safe Babies is pleased to offer virtual training events. For more information click here.
Why focus on Infants and Toddlers?
- Babies can’t wait. Their sense of time and rate of development is vastly different from that of adults.
- Infants and toddlers make up the largest age group of all maltreated children.
- 39% of confirmed abuse and neglect cases in Texas are infants and toddlers.
- 39% of children in Foster care are under age 5.
- 85% of core brain development happens before a child turns age 3. During this time, the brain is setting up learning processes and how it will manage stress, emotions, and change.
- Lack of predictable experiences, such as multiple foster care placements, not only disrupt healthy development but can prevent a child’s ability to develop key self-regulation and social skills that will be needed throughout their life.
- National data shows that compared to their older peers, infants and toddlers are more likely to enter foster care placement, remain longer in care, and become adopted.
- Young children in child welfare are much more likely to experience delays in emotional, social, and cognitive development.
- 82% of young children in child welfare show elevated signs of stress (cortisol), which inhibits healthy brain development.
- Current Child Welfare and Legal Systems are not set up to meet the needs of infants and toddlers, especially that of repairing the relationship between parent and child after maltreatment.
- Repairing the attachment bond between parent and child is held as a priority from the beginning.
- Cases should be approached from a developmental (mental health and cognitive) lens of the child, not based on a philosophical belief, traditional belief, or merely balancing the interests of the adults.
- Every parent has the potential to be a great parent, and as a community, we can coordinate resources to get them there.
- We should already be on the road to progress by the 60-day statutory hearing. Babies can’t wait. Their sense of time and rate of development is vastly different from those adults.
- Coparenting: One of the most important factors that support the healthy development of social-emotional skills, self-regulation skills, and brain development is consistency. Bringing birth and foster parents together to focus on the child’s needs, allows for the exchange of information and expectations with regards to the care of the child. It also allows for a less traumatic separation and reunification experience.
- Just imagine what a simple “cheat sheet” could do: Make foster parents aware of the important development of health, sleep, feeding, social, and emotional considerations to ease the transition for the child.
- Coordination: Nationally, only about 25% of children receive the required physical and mental health screenings. Through intentional coordination, other counties across the country have brought this to 95%.
- Coordination: Too often a parent’s need to be guided through the system is reflected as a lack of commitment at the 60-day statutory hearing. Coordinating therapy and other services for the parent and child is essential to the overall success. By bringing together those stakeholders who offer these services, we can develop a plan to overcome current barriers to accessing services.
- Education: Technical Assistance: By providing a “deeper understanding of how health, early childhood development, attachment, placement, and safety interrelate,” those involved in the decision-making process can promote more positive outcomes for infants and toddlers.
- Continuous Evaluation: As this is a pilot, continuous evaluation and the ability to adjust as we move forward with the project will be essential to the overall success.
Safe Babies has been made possible by:
The Herman H. Fleischman Foundation
The Morris Foundation
We would also like to thank University of Delaware for its support!