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Early Childhood Courts (ECC)

Michigan’s Early Childhood Courts (ECC), affectionately known as Baby Court, are part of a national network of Infant-Toddler Court Programs. The ECC model, based on the Safe Babies program developed by Zero to Three, focuses on supporting children and their families from prenatal to age three. The program aims to improve the well-being of infants, toddlers, and their families, especially those facing child maltreatment due to poverty or health challenges. By collaborating with courts, child welfare agencies, health practitioners, and Infant Mental Health providers, the ECC helps families access resources for safe and healthy relationships. It also promotes the development of equitable services and systems that prioritize families’ decision-making.

Michigan’s Early Childhood Courts, also known as Baby Court, are specialized problem-solving courts that provide support to infants and toddlers in the child welfare system from prenatal to age three. This age group is particularly vulnerable to the effects of trauma and maltreatment, and interventions during this critical period can significantly impact their development and future outcomes. The court recognizes the importance of consistent and sensitive attachment figures in the infants’ and young children’s lives, based on attachment theory and the science of early brain development. The goal of ECC is to minimize developmental delays, reduce time spent in care, and prevent multiple entries into foster care. Since 2005, Baby Courts have been established in Wayne and Midland Counties in Michigan, with the overarching aim of ensuring that children under the age of three grow up in permanent, nurturing homes that support their optimal development. Whenever possible, the court strives to make biological parents the permanent caregivers for these young children.

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