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A Coordinated Systems Response
to Meeting the Mental Health Needs
of Young Children in Child Welfare

Thursday, July 17, 2014
2:00-3:30 PM EDT / 1:00-2:30 PM CDT / 11:00-12:30 PM PDT

Event Description

This webinar provided information on programs, resources, and approaches through which professionals in the child welfare, mental health, and court systems can support the mental health of infants and very young children in the child welfare system. Dr. Julie A. Larrieu presented a brief history of the Infant Team in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, and discussed assessment and multidisciplinary support of children under the age of five in foster care and their caregivers, from removal to permanency. Judy Norris, Community Coordinator from the Iowa Safe Babies Court Team, provided a practice-focused presentation on the implementation of this promising approach, which used the Infant Team as a foundation, and offered case examples. Joaniko Kohchi, Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Specialist, helped participants consider how this can be adapted to their community’s needs and readiness to design a system that addresses the unique needs of infants and young children, drawing on experience in Louisiana, Tennessee, and New York. The different models available included the full “Infant Team” that works with all children under a certain age in foster care from removal to permanency, the “Safe Babies Court Team”, court consultation, and incremental changes that can move your practice area toward better understanding and resolving the needs of infants, young children, and children with special needs. The webinar closed with a brief question and answer session.

Presenters: Julie A. Larrieu, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, LA, and Tulane Parenting Education Program/Family Resource Center Supervising Psychologist; Judy Norris, Community Coordinator, Iowa Safe Babies Court Team; Joaniko Kohchi, MPhil, LCSW, Therapist, Infant-Parent Project, Early Childhood Center, Einstein College of Medicine

Listening Time: 90 minutes

Presenter Bios

Julie A. Larrieu, Ph.D., a developmental and clinical psychologist, is a Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Tulane University School of Medicine. She is a member of a multidisciplinary team that provides intensive intervention to infants, young children, and their families who are involved with the child welfare system.  She is the Director for the Tulane site of the Early Trauma Treatment Network within the National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative.  This program, funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, is a collaborative of four national programs that provides training in Child-Parent Psychotherapy, an evidence-based intervention for young children and their caregivers who have experienced trauma and loss. 

Joaniko Kohchi, MPhil, LCSW, is an infant and early childhood mental health specialist who has worked with underserved families, in various capacities and localities, for 20 years. She completed formal training in trauma-informed modalities and interventions for infants and young children at LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans, focusing increasingly on families involved with the child welfare system in New Orleans, LA; Portland, ME; Knoxville, TN; Irvington, NJ, and currently the Bronx, NY. She is a supervising clinician at the Early Childhood Center at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, specializing in children with developmental differences and trauma exposure, and at the Infant-Parent Court Project, a foundation-funded research project focusing on child-welfare involved families with children under three years of age.

Judy Norris, LBSW
 has more than 18 years of experience in serving youth and families in child welfare and juvenile justice. Professional workings include program development and supervisory oversight in private sector, youth-serving organizations in Iowa. Her positions have involved direct care, residential treatment, transitional family therapy, and multiple program supervision of professionally diverse staff. Through these positions, she has developed procedures to meet licensing standards and compliance, data collection, and training needs. She expands project planning and facilitation through system collaborations, coordination, and development; and collaboration design, planning, and coordination of systemic changes within child welfare practices. Ms. Norris has trained in gender specific development, family development specialist, family team conferencing, and NOVA crisis response. She acts as a liaison for clients with child welfare, service intervention, and juvenile court involvement. She has been active in various advisories and boards including the Pre/Post Removal Development Group, Gender Specific Task Force, Juvenile Fire Setting Coalition, Parents As Partners, Child Abuse Prevention Council, and Drug Endangered Children Multidisciplinary Team, and is a member of Polk County Model Court where she has worked to improve visitation/family contact practices including participating in creating visitation/family contact centers, facilitating changes in developmental, mental, physical and dental health in the child welfare community, advocating for more effective systemic interventions at all levels, and community problem solving for kinship placements in Polk County.


This webinar provides information useful to participants working in the child welfare, mental health, and legal and judicial fields. It discusses information relevant to those involved in child welfare and mental health case work/direct practice, supervision, program administration, and policy, as well as information useful to judges, attorneys, and CASAs.  

Event Materials and Resources

  • PowerPoint Presentation

  • Resources on Infant Mental Health
    This resource list was compiled by Joaniko Kohchi, MPhil, LCSW; Judy Norris, LBSW; and, Julie Larrieu, Ph.D. for the NRCPFC Webinar, “A Coordinated Systems Response to Meeting the Mental Health Needs of Young Children in Child Welfare.” It provides selected readings, web-based resources, and websites that can provide further information on infant mental health to webinar participants. (July 2014)

  • The Safe Babies Court Teams Project
    The Safe Babies Court Team is a community engagement and systems change initiative focused on improving how the courts, child welfare agencies, and related child-serving organizations work together, share information, and expedite services for young children in the child welfare system.  This ZERO TO THREE resource provides an overview of how the Safe Babies Court Team approach champions children, encourages parents, and engages communities. It also includes sections on “Becoming an Evidence-Based Practice”, “The Safe Babies National Learning Community”, and “Leveraging Lessons Learned: State and Federal Policy”.