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Home Courts By County El Paso County Well Baby Court (WBCT)
Home Courts By County El Paso County Well Baby Court (WBCT)
Well Baby Court (WBCT)
A D&N Specialty Court Docket

History and Background

The Well Baby Court Program is a voluntary program for parents with children between the ages of 0-3 years of age who have an active dependency and neglect (D&N) case in the 4th Judicial District.

 

The WBCT is designed to:

  1. Increase knowledge about the negative impact of abuse and neglect on very young children though trainings on issues of concern to the court team, including but not limited to:

 

  • Emotional development of infants and toddlers
  • Infant mental health 
  • Historical trauma
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders
  • Impact of substance use disorders on families, and
  • Childhood abuse

 

  1. Change local systems to improve outcomes and prevent future court involvement in the lives of very young children by:

 

  • Forming multidisciplinary partnerships in the activities of each court team
  • Improving and expediting services for children and families
  • Using the active effort standard applied to cases governed by the Indian Child Welfare Act

 

Overview of current presiding Judge

Magistrate Jami Vigil

 

Magistrate Vigil is the presiding judicial officer in the Fourth Judicial District’s Well Baby Court. Magistrate Vigil also handles a full juvenile docket including Dependency and Neglect, Adoption, Paternity, and Child Support cases, and presides over the district’s Family Treatment Drug Court and DUI Court Problem Solving Court Programs.  Magistrate Vigil has served El Paso County as a judicial officer since January 2011 and is extremely active on several Best Practices Court Committees.

 

Magistrate Vigil devoted her professional career to public service.  Prior to her service on the bench, Magistrate Vigil worked as a Colorado State Public Defender, a Guardian Ad Litem in Dependency & Neglect, Delinquency, Truancy, Paternity, and Probate cases, Respondent Parent Counsel, Alternate Defense Counsel as well as immigration detention/deportation defense counsel.  Magistrate Vigil provided legal services to Colorado’s immigrant communities for over ten years.  She is particularly proud of her years as the Program Director for the Rural Immigrant Outreach Project, serving the State’s large Spanish speaking immigrant community in immigration matters and “know-your-rights” presentations, funded by the University of Colorado.  Magistrate Vigil served as a Judicial Law Clerk for Honorable Justice Alex Martinez, now retired from the Colorado Supreme Court.

Magistrate Vigil received a law degree and a master of arts degree from the University of Colorado. She also has a master of public health from the University of Illinois and master of science in pharmacy from the University of Florida.

 

Mission and End Goal

The mission of the WBCT is to divert children from foster care; achieve permanency for children within the time frames mandated by law; improve overall family functioning; strengthen the family unit with in home services; reduce abuse and neglect of children; eliminate parental substance abuse using assessment, treatment and monitoring; develop self-sufficient families; and reduce dependency on public welfare by addressing self-sufficiency

 

Program eligibility – qualifiers and disqualifiers

The Department of Human Services (DHS) 0-3 year old intake team meets with you (the parent) and screens for eligibility and suitability for this intensive wrap-around type program.

  • The program addresses the needs of infants and toddlers up to age 3 years coming under court jurisdiction and their parents.
  • Some of the criteria may include: Parents with substance use disorders, mental health needs, experiencing domestic/family violence, familial instability and poverty.
  • There must be at least one biological parent motivated to engage with the WBCT.
  • It may involve children temporarily placed out of your care
  • WBCT offers family engagement and expedited wrap-around services
  • WBCT is voluntary, and based on wishes of the parent(s)

 

Program requirements

Participation in the WBCT Program is a strenuous and challenging journey. Each phase requires resolve, courage, strength of character, and commitment of participants and family to move forward. There are two very important moments in the program: The first is when participants make the decision to commit time, energy, and resources to this program. The second is the finale of participants hard work and commitment to this program and overall wellness– their graduation from the Well Baby Court. In some cases, one’s D&N case may remain open and they may have other necessary court appearances. The Magistrate will inform participants of any additional requirements they have after leaving the program.

 

Participants are expected to follow through on an Individualized Healthy Living Plan, show up for all court and other appointments, complete substance testing as ordered, and follow rules and instructions given by the Magistrate in Court or through a Court Order. The team include professionals who are there to help the parents and family access to services and resources to help meet their unique goals.

 

The Court uses incentives to reinforce positive behaviors and sanctions to discourage negative behavior (ex: missed court or appointments, etc.). Rewards for compliance in the program can include verbal praise, bus passes, small tangible items or other responses. Sanctions for non-compliance with any step or requirement in the process can include a return to more frequent court hearings, community service hours, individual assignments as directed by the court or other responses.

 

If participants fail to make progress in the WBCT program, or if they abscond from the program for any length of time, they may be unsuccessfully discharged from the program. This is considered a “program failure.” If a participant fails WBCT, their case will remain open and will be moved to a traditional D&N docket, however you will lose the support and assistance of the WBCT team. They may still be required to come to court, and you may still be required to complete your treatment plan before your case can be closed. If a participant is unsuccessfully discharged from WBCT they will not have the opportunity to participate in the program in the future.

 

Referral Process – How participants get into the program

New Dependency and Neglect cases are screened by El Paso County Department of Human Services during the intake process and staffed with the DHS Supervisor.    Acceptance of the case is determined based upon eligibility criteria and if there are openings available within the program.  Eligible families voluntarily choose if they wish to participate in Well Baby Court or follow a traditional D&N track.  Contact with families is made within 24 hours of the referral, which generally precedes the Preliminary Protective Proceedings (PPP).   All cases are accepted for WBCT prior to or at the PPP. Ongoing D&N cases are not eligible for entry into WBCT.

 

Contact

Division Q at 719-452-5401 or 719-452-5402

 

If you have concerns regarding the safety and/or wellbeing of a child, please contact the state reporting hotline at 1-844-CO-4-Kids.  Available 24 hours a day, every day.  Anyone witnessing a child in a life-threatening situation should call 911.

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