The Safe Babies Court Team™ Approach
Every six minutes an infant or toddler is removed from home due to alleged abuse or neglect.
When that happens, those children are often placed in a child welfare system that is harmful to their development. The ZERO TO THREE Safe Babies Court Team™ approach transforms child welfare into the practice of child “well-being” by using the science of early childhood development to meet the urgent needs of infants and toddlers.
The program connects very young children and their families with needed supports and services, with a goal of advancing health and well-being.
- The Safe Babies Court Team™ Approach: Core Components and Key Activities
Learn how the SBCT approach meets the urgent needs of infants and toddlers and their families.
- Safe Babies Court Team™ Logic Model
Explore the Safe Babies Court Team™ Logic Model, which provides a visual depiction of the SBCT approach.
- The 2-4-2 Book Program
Learn about our 2-4-2 Book Program, offering parents a way to feel close to and connected with their baby or toddler even if they cannot be physically together. The handout provides guidance on incorporating the simple but powerful strategy into infant-toddler court teams.
- Report: States Can Improve Supports for Infants and Toddlers Who Are In or At Risk Of Entering Foster Care
This report shares where states have existing strengths and infrastructure to provide prevention services to families with infants and toddlers. Findings are the result of a 2019 survey conducted by Child Trends in partnership with ZERO TO THREE.
- Strategy Brief: Strong Families
This brief by Casey Family Programs explains how the Safe Babies Court Team™ approach improves outcomes for infants and toddlers.
- Making A Difference in the Lives of Families: Safe Babies Court Team™ Approach
An interactive infographic demonstrating how the SBCT™ approach addresses safety, placements, effects of opioid use, services, incarceration, and adverse childhood outcomes.
- Map of Infant Toddler Court Program Sites 2020
Where are we working across the United States?
- Guiding Principles: From Standard to Practice
This resource provides principles and accompanying vignettes to guide the work of infant-toddler court teams.
- Safe Babies Court Team™ Approach Cost Document
This resource presents an overview of the impact of the SBCT approach, including the costs and benefits of implementation in communities and states.
About the Safe Babies Court Team™ Approach
The first three years of life encompass the most critical phase of brain development. It is during the first 36 months that the foundation is being laid for how a child perceives the world around him or her: is it a safe encouraging setting where the child is surrounded by loving adults and has every opportunity to become a happy child and a curious learner? Or is it a dangerous and hostile territory where adults cannot be relied on to respond appropriately to the child’s needs? The stakes are high but developmental neuroscience demonstrates that this is the time –when the foundation of the brain’s architecture is being laid—to intervene on behalf of victims of maltreatment. Recognizing this, ZERO TO THREE created the Safe Babies Court Team Project, rooted in developmental science, which aims to:
- increase awareness among those who work with maltreated infants and toddlers about the negative impact of abuse and neglect on very young children; and,
- change local systems to improve outcomes and prevent future court involvement in the lives of very young children.
The Safe Babies Court Team approach is changing the trajectory for infants and toddlers in foster care. Families are embraced by a team and given targeted and timely services. The adults feel valued as individuals and as parents while they learn how to support the healthy development of their children. Results show that their children are reaching permanency three times faster than infants and toddlers in the general foster care population. Almost two-thirds of them find permanent homes with members of their families while only one-third of infants and toddlers in the general population exit foster care to family members.
Through community-wide collaboration led by the judges who oversee child maltreatment cases, children 0-3 and their families are receiving focused attention that recognizes individual strengths and challenges. Interventions are offered to meet the specific needs of each child and parent. Unlike typical foster care cases where formal hearings occur every 3 to 6 months, these families and the teams of professionals hold hearings and/or family team meetings at least once a month. This approach is recognized by the California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare offsite link as being highly relevant to the child welfare system and demonstrating promising research evidence.