RI Judiciary introduces new ‘Safe and Secure Baby Court’

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A new initiative was put in place at the Rhode Island Family Court Monday.

With infants and new parents subject to child welfare programs in mind, the Rhode Island Judiciary created the Safe and Secure Baby Court.

The goal of the court is reuniting parents with their babies as fast and as safely possible, provide enhanced services for babies who remain at home, and offer a smooth exit from the child welfare system.

Chief Judge Forte said parents who come before the DCYF usually have a history there. “More often than not, there have been years– generations — of DCYF involvement,” he said.

The Safe and Secure Baby Court will also focus on improving the well-being of infants in foster care (including increased visitation), increasing parental support, and making specific plans for reunification.

Forte said, “We hope to work with the Department of Children, Youth and Families to create ‘Mentor Homes’ in which a new mother and baby can live together under the benign supervision of a mentor who can assist them with daily coaching, encouragement and child care — teaching them how to be mothers and offering constant support.”

“By offering a helping hand and expediting necessary supports, I believe we can make a difference in many lives,” he added.

The pilot court will take place once a week and participation is voluntary.