Best Practice

Infant-Toddler Court Teams, based on the ZERO TO THREE Safe Babies Court Team Approach

State/Jurisdiction: National
Setting: Community
Population: Life Course Infant
Topic Area: Safe and Connected Communities Care Coordination

A systems-change innovation, Infant-Toddler Court Teams are based on the Safe Babies Court Team™ approach, which was designed by ZERO TO THREE to put the science of early childhood development into action. Specifically, Infant-Toddler Court Teams promote child, family, and community well-being at two levels: (1) at the direct service level, a Family Team engages in cross-system collaboration and problem-solving to drive trauma-informed family engagement, timely developmental screening and supports including attachment-focused intervention, comprehensive screening and assessment to identify family needs, and timely referrals and receipt of services and supports, (2) at the systems level, an Active Community Team comprising stakeholders across the prevention-to-treatment continuum collaborates to engage in needs assessment and monitoring, facilitate needed trainings, develop policy, and make funding decisions that sustain improvements and build community capacity to meet the needs of young children and their families. At the heart of the practice is the Community Coordinator, a unique role that includes outreach to build linkages across systems so that services are better aligned and coordinated, helping families navigate services, providing a consistent and strong voice for the developmental needs of the infant/toddler, and empowering families in the child welfare process. The practice aligns with five strategic areas of focus: (1) interdisciplinary, collaborative, and proactive teamwork; (2) enhanced oversight and collaborative problem-solving; (3) expedited, appropriate, and effective services; (4) trauma-responsive support; and (5) continuous quality improvement (see attached Logic Model handout and Core Components & Key Activities handout). Purposefully designed for real-world applicability, effective implementation of the practice is driven by quality improvement measured against practice- and system-change benchmarks. ZERO TO THREE operates a national resource center, the HRSA-MCHB Infant-Toddler Court Program, that provides training and technical assistance to local communities and states to support effective implementation and sustainability of infant-toddler court teams.

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