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State News

Idea To Spread Childhood Courts Statewide Gains Support

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Mark Wallheiser
/
AP File

Last year a pilot-program established a court aimed at handling child welfare cases involving zero to three year olds. Today a bill took the next step to expand the program statewide.

Early Childhood courts were designed to improve child safety and well-being, while also preventing abuse and expediting permanency. Plantation Democratic Senator Lauren Book sponsors the legislation.

“Research proves that the first 1000 days of life is a critical time for rapid brain development, but children ages zero to three are the largest age group of children being removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect. This most important period for a child’s healthy mental development is also conversely the most vulnerable time for maltreatment,” said Book.

Requirements of the bill call for The Office of the State Courts Administrator to hire and train a full-time community coordinator at each Early Childhood Court program site.