Supporting Early Connections

An evaluation of Supporting Early Connections was completed in November 2011 and shows significant positive results over the first three-and-a-half years of the program.

Read the Executive Summary.

Read the Full Evaluation.

Learn about our work on developmentally-appropriate family time/visitation guidelines.

Infants and toddlers are the largest group of children to enter, remain in and re-enter foster care and the least likely to reunify with their biological families. In Washington State, 36% of children entering foster care are under the age of three. Over a decade of research definitively shows that early relationships play a critical role in a child’s brain development and future academic and social success. When these relationships become neglectful or abusive, the course of an infant’s entire life is impacted. Young children who experience trauma and neglect are much more likely than their peers to develop mental health disorders and physical ailments; they are also at greater risk of having behavioral and educational problems. Moreover, dysfunctional relationships are often passed down through generations, further compounding the alarming issues that arise from early maltreatment.

From April 2008 to September 2011, the Center for Children & Youth Justice (CCYJ) coordinated a groundbreaking project in south King County, WA, called Supporting Early Connections (SEC). With funding from the Stuart Foundation, CCYJ developed an effective, multi-system, child-focused collaboration committed to addressing the social-emotional, mental health and relationship needs of infants, toddlers, and their biological parents who had child welfare cases heard at the dependency court in Kent, WA.

Through collaboration, cross-system training for professionals, and access to evidence-based treatment (Child Parent Psychotherapy) for babies and their families, SEC sought better outcomes for young children involved in the dependency system. This includes earlier exits from the child welfare system into permanent homes through reunification with biological parents, long-term placement with relatives, or adoption. By supporting healthy early relationships, SEC provided vulnerable babies a stronger foundation for their future physical, emotional and cognitive development. This critical early investment in maltreated children will ultimately reduce long-term costs to the community, particularly within the justice, child welfare and mental health systems.


To learn more about the exciting work of SEC, read our newsletters and dowload our program forms.


Program Forms