Welcome to the Safe Babies Blog!
Posted by Ariel Cooksey, Safe Babies Tarrant County Coordinator
I’m Ariel, the Safe Babies Coordinator for First3Years, and your guide to all things Safe Babies. We at First3Years appreciate your interest in lessening the impact of abuse and neglect on infants and toddlers in foster care.
But… what exactly is Safe Babies you ask?
Great question. The Safe Babies project is a collaborative effort to improve the experiences of infants and toddlers within the child welfare system. The model we have created rests on three fundamental components: Coordination, Education, and Coparenting. Let’s break those down to get a fuller picture of what Safe Babies is about.
Coordination: Only about 25% of children in foster care receive the mental and physical health screenings requisite for the full scope of care. Through intentional coordination, other counties have brought this to 95%, allowing for a more careful and thoughtful attention to developmental needs. Each child participating in Safe Babies will be screened to assess their existing and emergent needs through Early Childhood Intervention of North Texas. ECI will also monitor the child’s development for the duration of their time in care. But coordination doesn’t stop there. Too often a parents’ 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 their overall success. By bringing together service providers, we can develop a plan to overcome current barriers to accessing services and streamline the care and services families need as their circumstances evolve.
Education and Technical Assistance: Safe Babies provides ongoing trainings on relevant infant mental health issues and foster care including transitions, disordered attachment, behavioral cues and clues, trauma-informed care, and others. These trainings continue to inform our community agencies and service providers involved in child welfare, as well as our foster and birth parents, of evolving best practices for developmentally informed decision making for infants and toddlers in foster care. Our next free community training will address Mitigating the Impact of Trauma and Loss for Infants and Young Children in the Child Welfare System on September 15th from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Lena Pope Amon Carter Center. We will be providing breakfast and 2 Continuing Education Units for your participation. Keep checking back for the e-vite!
Coparenting: One of the most important factors that supports 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 and allows for a less traumatic separation and reunification experience. Safe Babies utilizes the Fostering Relationships coparenting method, empowering birth parents as the experts on their child and reaffirming their positive interactions with their child. When birth and foster parents work together, the adversarial nature of their relationship melts away, and the child has a unified team working toward their best interests.
If you would like to get involved with Safe Babies, or have any questions, concerns or would like to schedule a training, please contact me, Ariel Cooksey, at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 817-575-9618. For real time updates from First3Years and me, your Safe Babies Coordinator, follow us on twitter @First3Years, or on Facebook at facebook.com/first3years.
You can also follow my live Safe Babies tweets at @SafeBabiesAMC!