On Tuesday, April 1, ZERO TO THREE along with partners Child Trends and Casey Family Programs held a briefing to review the results of a report, “Changing the Course for Infants and Toddlers in the Child Welfare System: A Survey of State Child Welfare Policies and Initiatives.” The report presents findings from a survey completed last year of almost all state child welfare agencies about the policies and practices that guide their work in addressing the needs of infants and toddlers who have been maltreated. The report drew three broad conclusions:
- Few states have policies that differentiate services or timelines for infants and toddlers from those for older children.
- Relatively few states have implemented promising approaches to meeting the unique developmental needs of infants and toddlers.
- Given growing awareness about the needs of very young children stemming from neuroscience and child development research, child welfare agencies have a long way to go in aligning policies and practices to ensure that the unique needs of infants and toddlers are met.
In addition to hearing a description of the survey findings, briefing attendees also heard a presentation from Brenda Jones Harden from the University of Maryland on the impact on brain development for infants and toddlers when they are exposed to certain types of abuse and neglect. The briefing panel also included Nicole Laird, a young mother who had been helped by her involvement in a Safe Babies Court Team in Iowa. Christine Calpin from Casey Family Programs and Stacie Bladen from the Michigan Department of Human Services also spoke and both addressed the use of child welfare waivers.