The Superior Court and Child Welfare Initiative focuses on our county’s most vulnerable children and their families who are involved in the Family, Juvenile Justice, and Dependency Systems as well as concurrent involvement with other courts.
While FIRST 5 advocates for all young children in Santa Clara County, of particular concern, are children who have experienced abuse and neglect or are separated from parents/ caregivers due to incarceration. These children are the County’s most vulnerable, many may have serious medical problems and developmental and/or behavioral challenges. These challenges, if left unaddressed, can contribute to a greater risk for school failure, teen pregnancy, homelessness, and entanglement with the criminal justice system (Dicker, 2009).
Serving families in the Superior Court and Child Welfare system provides a unique opportunity for parents and caregivers to access support and resources to strengthen their skills and abilities to promote their children’s optimal development and provide safe, stable, and loving homes.
FIRST 5’s partnership with the Superior Court began in 2002, serving children and families in only one Family Court location. Based on the success of the initial partnership, the FIRST 5 Commission approved an expansion of services that now includes the Family Justice Center, the Juvenile Justice Court, and the Juvenile Dependency Court.
FIRST 5 invests in comprehensive prevention and early intervention strategies for families involved with the Court and Child Welfare systems, including:
Home Visiting Services
FIRST 5 invests in Public Health Nurses to provide home visiting services. Public Health Nurses support the health, safety, and wellness of families by providing physical examinations, developmental and behavioral health screenings. Additionally, they connect families to appropriate services, such as early learning opportunities. These services include Family Resource Centers, the Help Me Grow/KidConnections Network of Providers, Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), Early Start, medical and dental homes, and specialty services.
Dependency Wellness Court
Dependency Wellness Court (DWC) is a collaboration with Santa Clara County Superior Court to improve services and outcomes for parents/caregivers whose children have been or are at risk of being removed from the home. These parents/caregivers have a Substance Use Disorder (SUD) and/or a co-occurring SUD and mental health disorder. The Children’s Services Coordinator monitors DWC cases and connects parents/caregivers to the FIRST 5 System of Care to support successful reunification.
Family Law Treatment Court
Superior Court Services provides Family Law Drug Treatment Court (FLTC), Special Program Resource Specialist services, supervised visitation services and drug testing. The Resource Specialist connects families to services that support sobriety-skill building, and increase access to community resources and targeted interventions, in order to improve child safety and enhance the parent-child relationship.