Palmer judge to launch Family Infant Toddler (FIT) therapeutic court

Law booksIn this episode of Justice Alaska on Hometown Alaska, co-hosts Kathleen McCoy and legal expert Senior Judge Elaine Andrews engage Palmer Superior Court Judge Vanessa White on a new therapeutic court set to begin this summer.  It’s called FIT (Families with Infants and Toddlers) court, designed to better support children moving through the court system. The court is a partnership among a large number of valley agencies and funders.

The new court’s necessity is based on recent neurological research. Early years are especially important.  Adverse episodes —loss of parental contact, neglect, trauma—can actually shape the way the child’s brain develops. Damage can last a lifetime and costs to society can be tremendous.

Judge White is taking this information into the courthouse. Judges make important decisions about children and families every day; Judge White advocates making those decisions informed by existing knowledge on infant and child brain development.

Matt Hirschfeld is a pediatrician who advocates on behalf of children through the All Alaska Pediatric Partnership. This effort looks holistically at linking health care systems in government, hospitals, social service agencies and payers to improve system efficiency and to enhance communication about children’s health and wellness.

Due to scheduling conflicts, this edition of Justice Alaska on Hometown Alaska won’t be taking callers. However, feel free to leave emails for later response.




Kathleen McCoy and Senior Judge Elaine Andrews


  • Vanessa White, judge, Palmer Superior Court
  • Dr. Matt Hirschfeld, pediatrician, medical director ANMC Maternal Child Health Services, president All Alaska Pediatric Partnership



  • Today’s program will not be taking calls on the air.
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