One Hope United is recruiting Cook County foster parents to take part in an innovative and effective new program specifically for infants and toddlers under the age of 4. The Illinois Early Childhood Court Team (ECCT), sometimes referred to as “Baby Court,” is a new approach to helping the youngest children in the foster care system achieve permanency more quickly. One Hope United is one of only two agencies in Cook County that provide this service.
A team-based approach to foster care
When a family participates in the ECCT program, they work with a Court Team – a group of supportive players including their case manager and community practice coordinator who help the child’s parents address the goals in their service plan and access the resources to help them succeed. Along with this comes more opportunities for parents to visit with their children and build their relationship.
Children undergo rapid development in their first three years and require intensive monitoring to make sure that emerging needs are quickly addressed. The Court Team model helps ensure that these young children in foster care get the resources they need, and their foster parents play an indispensable role.
What makes ECCT foster parents different
In many ways, an ECCT foster parent is the same as traditional foster parenting, requiring the same licensing (One Hope United can help new foster parents become licensed). ECCT foster parents need to have a suitable crib or bed for the child and be able to accept a new case on a moment’s notice.
The differences are that most of the children in ECCT are under the age of 4, and the foster parents are encouraged to actively participate in the Court Team. This includes developing a co-parenting relationship with the children’s parents by hosting at least 1 of 3 parent visits a week, and by attending the Court Team meeting once a month. In addition to the standard benefits and reimbursements that all foster parents receive, ECCT foster parents receive additional benefits for hosting parent visits, up to $400/month.
Making a real impact on babies’ lives
ECCT foster parents have the opportunity to help a young child stay on track during these formative years and improve their outcomes beyond what is typically found in traditional foster care. Studies of this model have shown that 97% of children and families receive their needed services and make substantial progress in their goals, and children reach permanency 3 times faster than the national norm.
One reason for this is that, unlike traditional foster care, ECCT does concurrent planning for the children’s permanency while the parents are working toward their goals. In the event that the children are not able to return home to their parents, there is already a plan in place for them to be adopted. This prevents the attachment disruptions that can occur when children move through families on the way to permanency.
Ready to make a difference in a baby’s life? Start the process today by contacting our licensing supervisor, Yeni Rojas, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 312-949-5540.