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Dekalb Introducing Baby Court For Families At Risk

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Dekalb Introducing Baby Court For Families At Risk

Dekalb County has introduced a new Safe Baby Court program designed to provide resources to children and families affected by abuse and neglect.

General Sessions Court Judge Brandon Cox said the county received a $100,000 grant from the state based on the county’s need for the program. He said families with a child 36 months or younger in the home qualify for the program. The program, Cox said, offers families access to affordable counseling and treatment, and resources like car seats or rent assistance that DCS cannot provide.

“We identify needs that they have to address, such as getting alcohol and drug assessments, intensive outpatient, doing certain counseling or therapy, psychological evaluations, those sorts of things,” Cox said. “And they have to go through a long process to have approval from the state to get it done through DCS or they don’t get it done at all.”

Cox said this program bridges gaps for families at risk of being separated by the state. He said Dekalb County is a rural, resource-poor area where families are more at risk of being split up because they cannot afford representation. Cox said typical Department of Children Services cases are seen every two to three months. He said these cases will be reviewed and staffed every week.

“My anticipation is that those weekly staffings will identify specific needs for the families and will be able to address those specific needs in a much quicker timeframe than what usually happens with the normal cases,” Cox said.

Cox said a Recovery Coordinator will work alongside families that have been referred by DCS.

“We’re dealing with families that have been affected by drug addiction, abuse, all those sorts of things,” Cox said. “The DCS caseload is designed, those types of cases are designed to reunify cases that have been broken or torn apart for whatever reason.”

He said he heard about the program in 2022 at the Judicial Academy. He said Dekalb County was among eight counties to be rewarded the grant and he looks forward to seeing the new program help keep families together.


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