Evaluation

The QIC-CT project evaluation will examine the adoption, implementation, and maintenance processes by which the ZERO TO THREE Safe Babies Court Teams (SBCT) approach becomes institutionalized into professionals’ practice.  For the current phase of the QIC-CT, the evaluation team from RTI International is working with the six demonstration sites on quantitative and qualitative data collection including a web-based survey submitted to stakeholders across sites and secondary analysis of output and outcome data gathered through the a web-based data set. The process evaluation includes 3-day site visits conducted at baseline—before the QIC-CT program implementation—and conducted again after training completion.  Site visits include in-person interviews with each member of the Infant-Toddler Court Teams, observations of stakeholders’ meetings and family court team meetings, court hearing observations, and interviews with the Court Improvement Program’s representative (focusing on the state perspective of adoption of the SBCT approach). 

Evaluation Questions Driving the QIC-CT Project

Process Evaluation:
Collaboration and Coordination

  1. What factors and strategies are associated with successful partnerships and collaborative efforts to implement or sustain an infant-toddler court team using the Safe Babies Court Teams approach?
  2. To what extent is there evidence that better practice is underway at each program site through implementation of the Safe Babies Court Teams approach?

Infant Mental Health, Early Intervention, and Child Care Service System Capacity and Infrastructure

  1. Which are the organizational and system conditions necessary to support successful implementation of the sites' selected evidence-based practices?

Outcome Evaluation:
Safe Babies Court Team Functioning at Sites

  1. To what extent are there observable changes in roles and behaviors of infant-toddler court team members during hearings?

Child Safety, Placement, and Well-Being

  1. What short-term outcomes result for infants and toddlers served by the infant-toddler court teams? (stability of placement, referrals made, services received, time to permanency)
  2. What changes in safety, placement, permanency, and well-being for infants and toddlers served by the infant-toddler court teams are perceived by stakeholders?

Click here to read an overview of the evaluation of the QIC-CT Project.
Click here to read an Executive Summary of The Baseline Evaluation Report of the Quality Improvement Center for Research-Based Infant-Toddler Court Teams released in August 2016.
Evaluation of the Safe Babies Court Teams

James Bell Associates Evaluation of the Court Teams for Maltreated Infants and Toddlers
The first Safe Babies Court Team evaluation, completed in 2009 by James Bell Associates, looked at evidence of system change, knowledge among Court Teams stakeholders regarding the impact of maltreatment on early development, and short-term outcomes for infants and toddlers monitored by the Safe Babies Court Teams. This process and outcome evaluation examined three questions using site visits, interviews, focus groups, court observations, and document review. The questions were:

  1. To what extent is there evidence that systems change is underway at each program site through implementation of the Court Teams model;
  2. What is the state of knowledge among Court Team stakeholders regarding the impact of abuse and neglect on early development and the needs of maltreated infants and toddlers who come through the courts; and
  3. What short-term outcomes result for infants and toddlers served by the Court Teams?

Fostering a Permanent Home: A Mixed Methods Evaluation of the ZERO TO THREE Court Teams for Maltreated Infants and Toddlers Initiative
The second Safe Babies Court Team evaluation, completed by Kimberly McCombs-Thornton, PhD of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2011, looked at the effect of Safe Babies Court Teams on time to permanency and how children exit the foster care system. It also examined how program components or client characteristics affected time to permanency. Dr. McCombs-Thornton utilized two populations: children served by the initial four Safe Babies Court Teams, and a nationally representative sample of young child welfare participants found in the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being. Using these populations, Dr. McCombs-Thornton answered three questions:

  1. Does the Court Team have an effect on time to permanency;
  2. Does the Court Team influence how children exit the foster care system; and
  3. Do program components or client characteristics contribute to time to permanency

Investing in our Most Vulnerable: A Cost Analysis of the ZERO TO THREE Safe Babies Court Teams Initiative
This evaluation looks at the effect of the expedited permanency outcome on the cost of Safe Babies Court Team implementation. Economics for the Public Good calculated an average direct cost of $10,000 per child.  These costs are similar to or substantially lower than those found in other early childhood interventions. Short-term savings generated by their earlier exits from foster care are estimated at an average of $7,300 per child.  In other words, the Court Teams’ reduced costs of foster care placements alone cover two-thirds of the average costs per child. This study also showed that children involved with ZTT Court Teams access more services than the comparison group.  In particular, Court Teams children were significantly more likely to receive a developmental screening (92% v. 25%), health care visit (94% v. 76%), and dental visit (29% v. 18%).  The study also demonstrated ZTT Court Teams’ ability to leverage substantial in-kind resources: for every grant dollar, ZTT was able to generate another dollar of in-kind support.