If you have been involved with the placer county STEP program and feel discrimintaed against or feel that either of the women in charge have been biased, one-sided, not considered your concerns for your child, or if you have had ANY problems, please address your thoughts, feelings, or any statements here. This is the main statement about the program on its website, and if you read it below and do not feel that the program has lived up to its standards, please, share your thoughts.
The Placer Superior Court STEP Program
A Placer First Five Program
The Placer Superior Court’s First Five Program for Parents experiencing high conflict child custody issues is a voluntary program for court-referred families in Placer County.
The STEP program offers a multi-faceted approach to provide services to families and specifically to children, ages 0-5, whose parents are experiencing high conflict child custody litigation in the Placer Superior Court.
The program offers families’ intensive case management, therapeutic court interventions, and community referrals to assist parents and children with the goal of learning how to co-parent and communicate more effectively. Parents are instructed in techniques on how to reduce the emotional abuse of their children by limiting their children’s exposure to their parental conflict. The brain development message is shared to help parents understand the importance of providing a nurturing environment for their children to grow up healthy.
This voluntary program has continually served approximately 60 families per year with children ages 0-5, since it began in 2001. The families reside throughout Placer County and are court referred initially for an assessment. A bi-lingual Case Coordinator assists the parents by monitoring compliance of case plans, facilitating agreements, tracking court orders, providing them with referrals to community resources such as co-parent coaching, supervised visitation services and the High Conflict Co-Parenting class. Children are observed and assessed by a Parenting Specialist using the established screening tool accepted by the First 5 partners.
Other services that the program sponsors for children are play therapy, counseling, and early intervention. The parents receive referrals to counseling, co-parent coaching, substance abuse treatment and assessments or drug testing, mental health assessments, and therapeutic court hearings. All participants in the STEP program attend the six-week co-parenting class for high conflict parents, which teach them to communicate and put their children’s needs first.
STEP upholds the premise that by offering intensive therapeutic services, the families are better able to put the needs of their children first, namely that conflicted parents would:
√ Learn effective skills of communication
√ Avoid behaviors which increase tension and conflict
√ Develop child centered behaviors
√ Create parenting plans that limit children’s exposure to conflict and unsafe environments and ultimately, develop the ability to successfully co-parent
√ Parents will demonstrate effective skills of communication, therefore learning how to cooperatively co-parent.
√ Parents will develop child-centered behaviors, which promote a nurturing environment for their children’s healthy development.
√ Parents will demonstrate a sustained ability to resolve parental conflict independent of the court and utilize community resources as needed.
Categories of services include:
√ Counseling, parent coaching, and parenting plan facilitation
√ Intensive case management, monitoring compliance with orders in the case plans, track court orders, provide quick access to the court, ensure referrals, accountability and court reviews
√ Co-parent education and collaboration with First 5 Partners such as Golden Sierra Life Skills, Peace for Families and the court’s Legal Help Center
√ Supervised visitation and exchanges to avoid dangerous behaviors from occurring in the presence of the children
√ Court ordered drug testing
The STEP program utilizes a bi-lingual (Spanish) Case Coordinator to provide the intensive case management required in high conflict families. By monitoring compliance with the orders drafted in the case plans, and providing community resources, parents are held accountable to seek and complete the court ordered services.
The Parenting Specialist evaluates and facilitates parenting plans and makes recommendations to the court when the parents have not reached their own agreements. The Parenting Specialist observes the parent-child interactions, visits the child’s home or school, if appropriate, conveys child development information and helps the parents build a co-parenting relationship.
Each parent must attend a six-week Co-Parenting Class held in Roseville one evening a week for two hours. Two licensed mental health professionals teach the Co-Parenting Class. These classes employ role-playing techniques, forgiveness exercises, and child focused materials on brain development. Should the parents need further interventions after completion of the class, they will be referred to Co-Parent Coaching to assist them with the new skills they have acquired.
For some parents and children to have a safe and healthy relationship, they may need to be referred to Supervised Visitation or Supervised Exchanges.
Supervised visitation allows the parents the opportunity to work towards a more equitable parenting plan with their children. In addition, Random Drug Testing provides parents with an opportunity to establish with the courts their intention to safely parent their child.
Therapeutic Oriented Court Hearings allow the STEP program to offer the parents consistency by having the same judge hear their case over time. A special court calendar takes place weekly to allow easy access to the court.
The strategies employed in the STEP program are built upon maintaining children’s attachments to both parents and avoiding exposure of young children to emotionally abusive behaviors in their home environment.
One Case Coordinator, a part time Parenting Specialist and a Program Support clerk are the primary staff for the STEP program.
The Case Coordinator, Program Support clerk, Parenting Specialist, and the Director of Family Court Services review and analyze the data to gauge the achievement of the outcomes of the program. This information is then used to create the reporting materials for the STEP Learning Conversations.
The Program Support clerk gathers the data for the State First 5 annual report. This staff member also monitors the program budget and insures accountability within the required First 5 parameters.
Judicial officers review the data and outcomes to provide feedback to the court administration.