(MURFREESBORO) Juvenile Court Judge Donna Scott Davenport was thrilled when she learned that Rutherford county has been approved by Governor Bill Lee to have a "Safe Baby Court" that fully funded by state and federal money.
As of last year there were 5 such courts in the state. Now additional funding has been appropriated for 7 new courts and Rutherford is one of those chosen. The state Legislators passed a bill two years ago developing these types of courts.
This program will still involve the Department of Children Services, but it is focusing on traumas the parents and children have suffered. The concept takes into consideration what is known as ACES (Adverse Childhood Experiences). There will be a Family Team made up of the Judge, Court Coordinator, DCS, Mental Health specialist and other community leaders and agencies.
Studies show that if a child has suffered any type of abuse, physical, sexual or emotional, has been emotional neglected or physically neglected and or in their household--or if there is some type of substance abuse, parental divorce, household mental illness or seen violence in their home or a member of their immediate household is incarcerated. As the number of this experiences increase, so does the risk for negative health outcomes for those children. And again the most critical age is from birth to age three.
Judge Davenport explained, "If the case starts with a child under age three, and there are other children in the home, they will also be included in this new court. We are able to process the grant through a nonprofit organization and we have chosen the Kymari House as that agency."
Ms. Tonya Hobbs, who is a full time professor in the Social Work Department of MTSU, will be the guide for the grant process.
The judge commented, "These specialized courts wraparound more services than we have ever experienced independently relying just on DCS. I have appointed Ms Carrie Niederhauser who is a prior DCS employee and a highly skilled person as the court coordinator. She will be wearing several hats. But she will have hands on with all players. She will help us locate qualified resources through building community partners."
Judge Davenport concluded, "With this new program, we will be able to offer our moms and dads an opportunity to bond with that new born. There will be a more hands-on involvement with the parents, because Carrie will be the advocate for the families and will play a significant role in developing services within the community and collaboration with other agencies to meet the needs of the families."
Judge Donna Scott Davenport will have a community-wide discussion of the "Safe Baby Court" on her WGNS' Talk Radio program broadcast 8:10-9:00AM next Tuesday morning, November 5, 2019, on FM 100.5, FM 101.9, AM 1450 and www.WGNSradio.com.