The Infant-Parent Court Affiliated Intervention Project is a program of the Early Childhood Center and works in conjunction with the Bronx Family Court. The project provides an evidence-based mental health intervention — Child-Parent Psychotherapy — for parents and their infants and toddlers under age 3 who were placed in foster care due to allegations of maltreatment. The intervention addresses the issues of trauma and attachment that are vital to improving parenting, securing permanency, preventing recurrence of maltreatment and ending the intergenerational cycle of foster care, court involvement and child abuse. The overarching goal of the Infant-Parent Court Project is to establish children’s secure attachment to a primary caregiver, preferably the biological parent, as a critical foundation for family reunification and the child’s subsequent developmental competencies. The intervention seeks to target the specific parent behaviors that have generated concern and to improve and promote positive parenting interactions for parents of young children who have been removed, or are at risk for removal, from their parents. Project staff work closely with judges and other family court personnel, foster care and child welfare staff, and attorneys to provide clinical information to inform children’s permanency planning. Project clinicians also connect parents and children with the necessary services to address the child’s developmental needs and help parents access the services and supports they need to strengthen their ability to care for their child.
How the Infant-Parent Court Affiliated Project Works
Project staff receive referrals for infants and toddlers who have been placed in foster care or who are at risk of removal from their parents. The Project seek to receive referrals as early in the case as possible, so that the attachment between child and parent can be facilitated.
Referral criteria include
- Families with young children between birth and 3 years of age who have current cases in Bronx Family Court
- Families for whom the goal is reunification
- Families who reside in the Bronx or upper Manhattan
Families can be referred by family court judges, foster care agencies, attorneys or ACS staff. All families are seen for an initial assessment as a first component of program participation. Parents and their infants and toddlers are then seen weekly for a minimum of 26 sessions. Clinicians in the project also appear regularly at family court proceedings and participate in foster care agency family team conferences as well as advocate for developmental services.
Project Accomplishments and Evaluation Results
The program has a strong evaluation component, which has demonstrated the following:
- Statistically significant improvement in parenting competencies as measured by the Keys to Interactive Parenting Scale (KIPS) for parents who engage meaningfully with the project.
- Significant decrease in parents’ reports of depressive symptoms as measured by the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI)
- Increased contact as well as less supervised contact, between parents and children via court-sanctioned visits for the majority of parents involved in the Project.
- High rates of reunification of infants and toddlers with their parents relative to national norm.
- 46 percent of dyads have achieved permanency while involved in the project by way of reunifications, trial discharges, and case dismissals.
- No recurrence of abuse for the children involved in the project.
In addition, project staff is available to provide information and training to the child welfare community on infant brain development, attachment, trauma, and infant-parent relational intervention. Staff also work with the child welfare community on policy issues related to young children in the child welfare system.