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More than 1,200 missing in the California wildfires. Also on the Monday rundown: A pair of reports on gun violence in the nation; and concerns that proposed changes to 'Green Card' rules favor the wealthy.

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“Babies Can’t Wait” – Fast-Tracking Family Reunions

PHOTO: Child Welfare agencies around New York State are watching a new program called "Babies Can't Wait," aimed at shortening the time before an infant or toddler taken away from abusive parents is reunited or adopted or discharged to relatives. Courtesy Larry D. Moore CC BY-SA 3.0.
PHOTO: Child Welfare agencies around New York State are watching a new program called "Babies Can't Wait," aimed at shortening the time before an infant or toddler taken away from abusive parents is reunited or adopted or discharged to relatives. Courtesy Larry D. Moore CC BY-SA 3.0.
October 14, 2013

UNIONDALE, N.Y. – It's called Babies Can't Wait, and the next phase of the one-month-old program in Nassau County starts with meetings Tuesday aimed at speeding along the cases of maltreated infants and toddlers taken away from the parents.

The gatherings of Social Services caseworkers, mental health specialists from Adelphi University, attorneys and the family – in front of a judge – used to occur much less frequently in foster care cases.

"This particular court process that we have started here in Nassau and that has been successful in other places around the country, brings these cases into court monthly," says Maria Lauria, director of the county's Department of Social Services.

Experts say the rate at which children's brains grow between ages one and five is so significant and so crucial to development that the new program aims to get satisfactory outcomes as soon as possible.

That can include reunion with the family, adoption or placement in the care of relatives.

The program is the first of its kind in New York State. And Lauria says Adelphi's Institute for Parenting studied the success other states have had.

"So while the average of kids going home, or going to adoption or going to relatives is around two years around the country, they have cut it down to one year," she explains.

Lauria adds she was eager to launch Babies Can't Wait.

"One thing that was haunting, as the Children's Service director, as the person responsible for foster care,” she says, “was how long these kids were staying in foster care and how they weren't getting the outcomes that they needed in foster care in a timely way."

Lauria believes the benefits will be lasting.

"These kids, when they're little, that's when you can make the difference,” she stresses. “That's when you can have impacts on their lives that change their lives for the better forever."


Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - NY