Developmentally Appropriate Services to Infants & Toddlers

Youth Law Center is working to implement developmentally appropriate services for infants and toddlers and their families involved with the child welfare system.  This work involves organizing the faith community, child welfare services and members of the community. The Youth Law Center is developing a plan for two counties in California to apply the information produced through recent research to modify county practice. Improvements in the plan will address the following:

  • The need for a consistent caregiver;
  • The need for increased training for resource families and biological families on the needs of infants who have been the victims of trauma and separation;
  • The need to avoid disruption in care; and
  • The need for improved techniques for caring for toddlers whose behavior is challenging.

Ultimately, in the target counties, the Youth Law Center will evaluate the use of some of the following:

  • Supportive in home services, including mother-infant residential drug treatment, mother-child foster care, and in-home support;
  • Training and support that has been found effective, including Mary Dozier’s attachment model, Charlie Zeanah’s team approach to service planning, and Oregon Social Learning Center’s foster care support; and
  • Elimination of the use of shelter homes and congregate group care.

The result of this process will be a plan for engaging counties; assisting those counties in reviewing practices that are not developmentally appropriate; and helping counties to implement policies and practices that are more likely to foster infant and toddler mental health.


This project is made possible by a grant from the Stuart Foundation.