Child-Centered Practices for the Courtroom & Community: A Guide to Working Effectively with Young Children & Their Families

Volume Editors: Lynne F. Katz, Judge Cindy S. Lederman, Joy D. Osofsky Ph.D.

Format: Paperback, 240 pages, 7.0 x 10.0
ISBN: 9781598570731
Price: $36.95

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How can early childhood professionals provide the best possible services and supports to families in the child welfare system? This guidebook has the practical, real-world answers professionals need as they navigate the complex system, work with the courts, and plan interventions and treatment for the most vulnerable young children and families.

Developed by a psychologist, a judge, and an expert on early intervention and education, this accessible practitioner's guide introduces early childhood professionals to the coordinated, evidence-based practices used successfully in Miami's juvenile court and child welfare community. As they follow a gripping case study of one young mother and her children, readers will see in vivid detail why effective, integrated services are needed to improve child and family outcomes. Then, with practical tips and guidance from the perspective of the court, the clinician, and the early intervention expert, readers will discover how to

  • plan and implement a coordinated system of care
  • advance a more therapeutic approach to child welfare in the courtroom and community
  • choose and implement an evidence-based parenting program
  • improve relationships between children and parents by implementing Child-Parent Psychotherapy (CPP)
  • successfully navigate a court appearance, from understanding the thoughts and perspectives of the judge to delivering effective testimony
  • build trusting, supportive relationships with families
  • improve children's early access to quality care and education programs
  • lead reform efforts toward a more child-centered child welfare system
  • decrease the incidence of burnout and compassion fatigue

Readers will also get sample forms and checklists they can use as models to enhance their everyday work with families and children (see list below).

With these practical tools and evidence-based strategies, professionals will ensure coordinated, high-quality services that improve the child welfare system and have long-lasting positive effects on young children and families.

Includes an appendix of practical sample forms such as

  • Clinical Interaction Checklist
  • Sample Court Orders
  • Court Report Templates
  • Decision-Making Tree for CPP and Parenting
  • Sample Relationship-Based Assessment
  • Individualized Family Support Plan and Evaluation Report
  • Healthy Start Referral Form
  • Order for Part C Evaluation
  • and more


Review by: Alicia Lieberman, Irving B. Harris Endowed Chair in Infant Mental Health Professor, and Vice Chair for Academic Affairs, University of California, San Francisco Department of Psychiatry; Director, Child Trauma Research Project, San Francisco General Hospital

"Documents an innovative judicial system—infant/early childhood mental health collaboration that holds great promise for safeguarding maltreated young children and helping parents learn to nurture their children's healthy development."

Review by: Stephen Bavolek, President, Family Development Resources, Inc.; Executive Director, Family Nurturing Centers International

"Simply a beautiful book—informative, practical, and comprehensive . . . If you are a professional working with families in child welfare, this book is the best comprehensive resource that you will want to have."

Review by: Jack Shonkoff, Julius B. Richmond FAMRI Professor of Child Health and Development; Director, Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University

"It's difficult to imagine any aspect of social policy or service delivery for young children and their families for which an understanding of the science of early childhood development could possibly be more important than in the way we address the needs of children who have been abused or neglected. And there is no arena in which the application of that knowledge is more critical to sound decision-making than at the intersection of the child welfare system and the courts."

Review by: Judith Kaye, Chief Judge of the State of New York (ret.)

"I read Child-Centered Practices through the eyes of a (former) judge, heartened and enthused by the path it defines for courts and beyond courts: evidence-based, yet creative, constructive, collaborative initiatives. It's an inspiring read, amply buttressed by the references, tools and models needed to improve the lives of young children in foster care, their families and communities."

Review by: Charles Zeanah, Sellars Polchow of Psychiatry, Tulane University School of Medicine

"A bold and important book . . . must reading for all legal, child welfare, and mental health professionals involved with maltreated children and their families."

Review by: Robert Emde, Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry, University of Colorado School of Medicine; Former President of the Society for Research in Child Development; Honorary President of the World Association of Infant Mental Health

"These are more than useful guidelines. The authors provide excellent and readable reviews of current research from the sciences of early child development, mental health and evidence-based programs for helping children and parents."

Review by: Elizabeth Bartholet, Morris Wasserstein Professor of Law, and Faculty Director, Child Advocacy Program, Harvard Law School

"A powerful, practical guide to changing the child welfare system so that it actually works for children."

Table of Contents

About the Authors


  1. Profile of Infants, Toddlers, and Parents Involved in the Child Welfare System
  2. Use of Evidence-Based Parenting Programs for Parents of At-Risk Young Children
  3. Healing the Infant-Parent Relationship
  4. Supporting the Development of Very Young Children
  5. Early Care and Education Settings that Support Child Development
  6. Developing a Coordinated System of Care
  7. Demystifying the Court Process: How to Be an Effective Advocate in Juvenile and Family Court
  8. Understanding and Preventing Vicarious Traumatization and Compassion Fatigue



  1. Questions Every Judge and Lawyer Should Ask About Infants and Toddlers in the Child Welfare System
  2. Sample Court Reports
    • Dependency Parenting Provider Initiative Court Reports
      • Completion and Submission Guidelines
      • Initial Report
      • Status Report
      • Final Report
      • Notice of Termination of Services
    • Early Head Start Court Report
    • Infant Mental Health Therapist Report
  3. Sample Memorandum of Understanding for Cross-Agency (Child Welfare/University) Collaboration
  4. Sample Court Orders
    • Miami Juvenile Court Order for Early Intervention Services Evaluation Through Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA
    • Miami Juvenile Court Order of Referral to Healthy Start
  5. Sample Protocol for Identifying an Accredited Early Care and Education Program Placement for Children Involved with the Dependency Court
  6. Individualized Family Support Plan (IFSP) for Early Intervention Services and Evaluation Report (Florida)
  7. Infant Mental Health-Related Documents and Tools
    • Sample Referral Eligibility Checklist
    • Early Childhood Relationship Observation Coding Scales (EC-ROCS)
    • Examples of Developmentally Appropriate Toys
    • Sample Child-Caregiver Relationship Assessment


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