How understanding childhood trauma influences a Palmer therapeutic court for families

When parents have difficulty in life and marriage, the trouble is not isolated to the couple. New understandings about brain development and childhood trauma, called ACES or adverse childhood experiences, has lead doctors and researchers to a much fuller understanding of the lifelong psychological and physical impacts children may experience from separation from a parent, neglect or other trauma. That knowledge led to the creation in 2017 of the Families with Infants and Toddlers court in Palmer.

According to its own material, the goals of this court are “to achieve permanency within twelve months and to reunify young children with their families of origin. The Court seeks to build strong supports around the family.”

Families with at least one child in Office of Children Services (OCS) custody younger than 36 months may be eligible to participate in the court. Families must apply to be considered for FIT Court

While courts across the state still deal with family and children in need situations, the Palmer FIT court takes a unique approach. The FIT court journey may include special family therapy counseling, a FIT court-dedicated OCS worker and monthly FIT court team meetings to check on progress.

In today’s Justice Alaska on Hometown Alaska, we’ll talk about the community roots for the court and its array of funding sources. The court is only about two and a half years in existence, so metrics are still forthcoming. But we’ll get a feel for how the court works and how its processes differ from other family courts. Our guests today include a graduate who can speak to personal experiences moving through the FIT court.

As always, your questions and comments are welcome throughout the program. Please join us.

HOSTS: Kathleen McCoy and Senior Judge Elaine Andrews


  • Jonathan Woodman, judge, FIT court in Palmer
  • Rebecca, a successful graduate of the FIT court process
  • Yvonne Denmon, FIT court-designated OCS caseworker


  • About the FIT court team, 1-pg PDF, Alaska Court System publication
  • Zero to Three, early connections last a lifetime, website
  • Age 0-3 National Infant Toddler court team information,
  • R.O.C.K. Mat-Su (Raising our children with kindness), one of the FIT court funders, website
  • Hometown Alaska archived program: Palmer judge to launch Family Infant Toddler (FIT) therapeutic court, Hometown Alaska, June 9, 2017


  • Call 550-8433 (Anchorage) or 1-888-353-5752 (statewide) during the live broadcast (2:00 – 3:00pm)
  • Send e-mail to before, during or after the live broadcast (e-mails may be read on air)
  • Post your comment or question below (comments may be read on air
  • LIVE: Monday, February 17, 2020 at 2:00 p.m
  • RE-AIR: Monday, February 17, 2020 at 8:00 p.m.
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