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Every day, hundreds of young children accompany caregivers to scheduled court appearances. In Court, the children may be exposed to disturbing proceedings, and their presence can be a distraction from judicial business. If kept outside of the courtroom, children may endure boredom and discomfort in waiting areas.
In response, the New York State Unified Court system developed the nation’s first statewide system of cheerful, welcoming Children’s Centers in the courts. The Centers provide a safe, literacy-rich environment and an opportunity for positive interventions in the lives of vulnerable children.
Research shows that many of the children brought to court are five years or younger, poor, and not receiving vital services — including health, educational and nutritional benefits — to which they and their families are entitled. Centers regularly facilitate connections between families and services such as Head Start, WIC, food stamps, literacy and other community services. The Children’s Centers have truly turned a problem into a possibility, with positive outcomes for families.
For more information, go to http://www.nycourts.gov/ip/childrenscenter/