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The Judges' Page newsletter is published by the National CASA Association and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges.

March 2012

Young Children Involved in the Dependency Court

Judge Dean LewisJudges' Page Editor Judge J. Dean Lewis (retired)

Former Member, National CASA Association Board of Directors
Past President, National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges

In 2010, one half of the children entering foster care were under five years old. For this issue of The Judges’ Page, Lucy Hudson, director of the Safe Babies Court Teams Project at ZERO TO THREE, has taken the lead on collecting 18 articles on the topic of young children involved in the dependency system. Authored by judges, professors, psychologists, parents and others, articles in this issue provide a wealth of information and perspectives on creating permanency, safety and well-being for this most vulnerable population.

ZERO TO THREE is leader in the field of working with infants, toddlers and their families, and we are grateful for their participation in this issue.

Read Judge Lewis's editor's message.

Articles in this issue:

Helpful Resources for Courts Working with Babies: Lucy Hudson of ZERO to THREE introduces projects at ZERO TO THREE targeting the special needs of young children

Developmental Outcomes of Infants and Toddlers in the Child Welfare System: Carlo Panlilio and Brenda Jones Harden of the University of Maryland provide judges with tips and strategies to improve developmental outcomes for young children involved in the court system.

The Effect of the ZERO TO THREE Court Teams Initiative on Time to Permanency - A Summary of Evaluation Findings: Dr. Kimberly L. McCombs-Thornton of the North Carolina Partnership for Children describes the ZERO TO THREE Court Team model and its success in achieving timely permanency.

Pre-removal Conferences: Our Approach to Minimizing Child Trauma and Increasing Family Engagement: Judge Constance Cohen, 5th District of Iowa, and Mike McInroy of the Iowa Dept. of Human Services explain the pre-removal conference, a successful collaborative effort implemented in Iowa. 

Helping Babies from the Bench in Nebraska - A State Cross-System Approach: Judge Douglas F. Johnson,Separate Juvenile Court of Douglas County, NE, and Amy Bunnell with the state of Nebraska collaborated to develop the Nebraska stakeholder training program now celebrating its fifth year.

Family Wellness Court for Infants and Toddlers Keeps Families Together: Judge Daniel T. Nishigaya of the Santa Clara County Superior Court shares the success of the Family Wellness Court for Infants and Toddlers in serving parents who are drug addicted and at risk of losing custody of young children.

Involving Fathers in the Lives of their Children; Recognizing This Important Permanency Option for Children in Foster Care: Judge Colin H. Witt of the Polk County Iowa Model Court details efforts of the court's Fatherhood Initiative to identify and engage fathers.

Parent Partners: The Voice of Experience for Child Welfare Involved Families: Judy Norris and Denise Moore, from Polk County, IA, share the story of a court-involved mother in her struggle to comply with court orders and case plans while struggling to maintain sobriety whose success was supported by the “Parent Partners” program

Taking Care of My Family: Edwin Daye, a leader of the Des Moines Fatherhood Initiative, shares his personal experience as the father of a baby involved in dependency court.

Communicating with Birth Parents - A Part of the Journey: Allonna Stovall, shares her perspective as a foster/adoptive parent of young children, educates us on the role of birth parents in the process.

Child Parent Psychotherapy as a Component of Safe Babies Court Team Interventions for Maltreated Infants and Toddlers: Psychologists Joy D. Osofsky, PhD, and Dr. Amy Dickson, PsyD, of the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center describe “child-parent psychotherapy”, an evidence-based treatment proven to be effective when working with young children and their families involved in child welfare cases.

Impact of Maternal History of Child Sexual Abuse on Caregiving: Professor Michele M. Many of the Louisiana State University School of Medicine describes how a mother’s history of childhood sexual abuse places her at risk for depression, substance abuse and behaviors that impair her ability to care for her child leading to involvement with the child welfare system.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD): How Judges Can Improve Outcomes for Affected Children and Parents: Judge Peggy H. Walker (Douglas County Juvenile Court), Larry Burd, PhD, (North Dakota Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Center and FAS Clinic), and Katrine Herrick (ZERO TO THREE) provide extensive background on fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and its prevalence among court involved children and their parents and introduce a draft of the FASD judicial bench cards.

Parents with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders: Using the Neuropsychological Assessment as an Instruction Manual for Success: Nancy L. Whitney of the King County (WA) Parent Child Assessment Program describes the program's successful use of neuropsychological testing as a guide to providing services that can keep FASD parents and their children together.

White Privilege: Being Born on Third Base and Thinking You Hit a Triple: Lucy Hudson defines “white privilege.”

Healing from the Historical Trauma of Slavery: A Training Series for the Orleans Parish Safe Babies Court Team: Judge Ernestine S. Gray and Marva L. Lewis (Orleans Parish Juvenile Court)  and Dawn R. Bentley-Johnson (University of Colorado, Boulder) describe a training program developed by the Orleans Parish Safe Babies Court Team that offers workshops targeting issues impacting African-American families involved in the child welfare system. 

Cultural Responsiveness When Working with Native American Families: Clinical Psychologist Eduardo Duran describes the way that language shapes cultures and the importance of understanding these cultural language differences when working with Native American families.

Undoing the Past: Cultural Grief and Trauma in the Courtroom: Tina Welch Saunooke of the Cherokiee Safe Babies Court Team in Cherokee, NC, describes the multifaceted, therapeutic approach to the native complexities the client is faced with when she comes to court.

Web Resources:  Emily Krueger of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges provides web resources relating to dependency court cases involving young children.

The comments of article authors do not necessarily reflect the policies of the National CASA Association or the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges.

The US Department of Justice has supported CASA advocacy since 1985 through its Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
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