Expanding Early Childhood Courts in Florida
Preserving the safety and well-being of Florida’s mistreated and abused children is an issue personal to many Floridians. When early childhood maltreatment goes unnoticed or untreated, not only does it impose a significant personal cost on the children involved, it also fosters a legacy of intergenerational trauma with devastating effects on society.
Florida must remain steadfast in its commitment to protecting the state’s most vulnerable while also identifying new, innovative, and cost-effective measures to ensure that protection. In recent years, one such initiative has proven worthy of this task. Florida’s Early Childhood Courts are a transformational approach to addressing child abuse while healing the underlying roots causing multigenerational maltreatment.
Early Childhood Courts bring together trauma-informed judges, multidisciplinary teams, and trained clinicians to offer individualized child/parent treatments. Research shows that monthly meetings with judges and teams can ensure rapidly changing needs are met with sufficient care and attention, and that participating families are offered the robust support network needed to navigate the healing process. For these Early Childhood Courts, success is readily measured in the shorter times children spend in the child welfare system and more reunification with families.
Florida TaxWatch undertakes this review of Early Childhood Courts to better understand how Early Childhood Courts can provide improved child-parent outcomes while saving taxpayer money. Florida TaxWatch is proud to present the following report to highlight the importance of expanding Early Childhood Courts and to initiate conversation with state policymakers in the upcoming 2021 legislative session and beyond.