The Arkansas Department of Human Services’ Division of Children and Family Services has received a $425,000  grant to expand its efforts to use the science of early childhood development to meet the urgent needs of infants and toddlers. Arkansas was one of only three states in the nation awarded this grant opportunity.

The ZERO TO THREE National Resource Center for Infant-Toddler Court program awarded the grant to allow Arkansas to expand its existing partnership with the Safe Babies Court Team (SBCT) approach. This program connects very young children and their families with needed supports and services, with a goal of advancing health and well-being. The target population is children birth to three years old under court jurisdiction, who are in foster care or at risk of removal, and their families.

With funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau, the NRC has the ambitious vision of improving outcomes for all child welfare-involved young children and families. The goal is to dramatically reduce the number of babies and toddlers removed from their families, restore and strengthen family relationships, and create positive futures for those who enter foster care. The grant is part of $3.05 million in new program development grant awards to states and local communities across the country.

“We are excited about and grateful for this grant funding,” said Mischa Martin, DCFS Director. “Safe Babies is an effective approach to improving outcomes for children and families. Results show that children are reaching permanency three times faster than infants and toddlers in the general foster care population. Almost two-thirds of those served by Safe Babies teams 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.”

DCFS will receive the state expansion grant of $425,000 to work with the NRC to support statewide implementation and sustainability of infant-toddler court teams applying the SBCT approach and launch three new infant-toddler court team sites.

DCFS already partners with the Safe Babies Court Team™ in Pulaski County, and DCFS intends to use the new grant funds to expand the Safe Babies Court Team™ program into three additional counties – Benton, Jefferson, and Sebastian.

To learn more about the Safe Babies Court Team approach, click here.