Early Childhood Court


Early Childhood Court (ECC) is a specialized court model designed to address the needs of infants and young children under the age of three. Young children in the foster care system are the most vulnerable to trauma due to the lack of a social and emotional bond between child and parent that occurs within the first 1000 days of a child’s life.

The purpose of the ECC is to:

  • Change the experience and outcomes of young children in the welfare system
  • Heal trauma and repair the parent-child relationship
  • Expedite a permanent home for the child
  • Break the intergenerational cycle of abuse, neglect, and violence

The Florida Center manages the program locally in conjunction with the YMCA Safe Child Coalition and the 12th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida. Providing a two-generational therapeutic approach, working with parent and child, the program functions through the use of an ECC Community Coordinator and specialized interview team: Case Manager, Infant Mental Health Therapist, and Family Support Worker.

The program provides increased opportunities for visitation, along with intensive coaching and therapy, helping the child and their family to bond and begin healing.

Parents and caregivers that successfully complete the ECC program have:

  • Achieved permanency with their children faster than those not enrolled in the program
  • Are staying connected to their therapists and receiving family mental health therapy, post-reunification, to heal from the trauma of being separated.
  • Families involved in ECC have a much lower return to care than those not involved in the program