, Press Release

Judicial Branch to Launch Safe Babies Court Team Pilot Programs

Safe Babies Court aims to reduce the time a child spends in foster care before reaching a permanent, safe home.

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The Judicial Branch is planning to launch Safe Babies Court Team (SBCT) pilot programs over the next three years starting in July 2023. Safe Babies Court Team is a program that aims to reduce the time a child spends in foster care before reaching a permanent, safe home. The approach also aims to improve the long-term well-being of children and families in the child welfare system. The program connects babies and their families with intensive support and services designed to promote healthy child development while working to ensure a safe and speedy exit from foster care. This means there are frequent court hearings and family decision-making meetings. The target population is children ages birth to three years old.

“We are excited about trying this new approach,” said Chief Justice Paul Newby. “Safe Babies Court Teams will help families make community connections that are critical to the children’s well-being, development, and their bright future.”

“Early age permanency is a top indicator of a child’s future success,” stated NCAOC Director Ryan Boyce. “We’re pleased to launch this innovative program in these pilot sites while looking ahead to statewide expansion.”

More About SBCT

The Chief Justice’s Task Force on ACEs-Informed Courts recommended implementing SBCT in North Carolina, through a three-year, five-site pilot program starting in July 2023. The launch plan is as follows: 

  • July 2023
    • District 24 (Mitchell and Yancey Counties)
    • New Hanover County
  • July 2024
    • Brunswick or Durham County
    • TBD
  • July 2025
    • Brunswick or Durham County

The pilot programs were developed in partnership with Zero to Three, a membership-based organization with expertise in developing the science of early childhood development into pioneering programs. The pilot programs will consist of a team of state level staff and community coordinators at the local level. A third party will conduct an evaluation of the efficacy of the SBCT pilot programs. Funding for these programs is made possible through grants from The Dogwood Health Trust, The Duke Endowment, and the Children’s Bureau through the Court Improvement Program.