Charleston County’s First ‘Safe Babies Court Team™’ Coming to Dee Norton
October 09, 2023
Dee Norton is looking to hire a Community Coordinator under the South Carolina Infant Mental Health Association (SCIMHA) to be a key role in expanding the Safe Babies Court Team™ into the Lowcountry. The approach is a community engagement and systems change initiative focused on embracing the families of infants and toddlers in foster care and creating a trauma-informed court system.
Nationally, every seven minutes, an infant or toddler is removed from home due to alleged abuse or neglect. Locally, half of the children and youth in the Department of Social Services (DSS) are between the ages of zero to six. Those aged zero to three are statistically at a higher risk for abuse and neglect. The goal of the Safe Babies Court Team™ is to reduce the number of removals for infants and toddlers as well as to reduce their time or stay in care—as the first three years of life have the biggest impact on lifelong well-being. Safe Babies Court focuses on the urgent developmental needs of young children during all planning and decision-making to strengthen early relationships with parents and caregivers and to create safe, stable, and nurturing environments for babies and toddlers.
“Each removal from a home disrupts a child’s development and overall ability to form trust with a caregiver. Whether it is one removal for a child or five removals, early relationships are key to proper development,” says Beverly Hutchison, Executive Director at Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center. “As a Children’s Advocacy Center, we are positioned to coordinate with visionaries and partners in the Lowcountry that want to continue to do better for and by our children. Further connecting our most vulnerable and their families with needed support and services is our best chance at preventing abuse, protecting children and healing families as a community.”
Through community-wide collaboration led by the judges who oversee child maltreatment cases, children ages 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. “With the expansion of the Safe Babies Court approach in South Carolina, collaboratively we are building capacity, expanding the services array and access to community resources, healing families who have experienced trauma and transforming the lives of babies and their future,” says SCIMHA’s Safe Babies Court Manager, Sharleta Woodall, MSW, IMHM-E® Infant Mental Health Mentor-Policy.
According to SCIMHA, Safe Babies Court Systems have:
- Children exit the foster care system ten months earlier than in traditional child welfare.
- More than 99% of children experience no recurrence of maltreatment within 12 months.
- Children achieved the same outcomes regardless of race, ethnicity or time in foster care.
For more on the Safe Babies Court Community Coordinator Position, click here.