Yesterday the Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare and the Center for Early Education and Development hosted a Round Table Discussion regarding how early childhood development and child welfare practice interact. The discussion, entitled "Mobilizing Hope: Using a Developmental Approach in Child Welfare," was intended to help child welfare professionals better understand how interventions are enhanced by knowing the developmental histories of children and families; also, developmental science professionals would benefit from the practice knowledge of social workers in the field.
Because collaboration between the early childhood and child welfare fields is an important component to effective service delivery for families with young children, this discussion focused on both the ecological model and developmental psychopathology as means to effectively serving children. During the discussion this collaboration was brought to fruition through the work of the Miami Child Well-Being Court Model. Two of the Round Table's panelists were representing this program, Judge Cindy Lederman and Dr. Lynne Katz. The Child Well-Being Court utilizes brain science and child welfare knowledge to create an atmosphere where the perspective of the child comes first and their development sets the context for judicial decision-making.
Overall, the Round Table emphasized this interdisciplinary approach and warned of the dangers in "siloing" services and programs when working with vulnerable children and families. Collaboration between mental health practitioners, child welfare workers, and all systems through which clients must navigate is essential for productive family engagement and program outcomes.