Professor Barbara Babb , CFCC’s founder and director, is an internationally recognized expert in family justice system reform. She received the 2015 Stanley Cohen Distinguished Research Award from the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC), based on her long career of scholarship and activism to improve family courts and family law. Babb is Editor-in-Chief of AFCC's quarterly journal, Family Court Review, the leading interdisciplinary academic and research journal for family law professionals worldwide.
The Sayra and Neil Meyerhoff Center for Families, Children and the Courts (CFCC) is a national leader in the movement to reform the family justice system. We work to create, implement, improve and evaluate unified family courts nationwide.
We strive to produce best outcomes for families and children by encouraging lawyers and judges to apply the law and legal processes in ways that account for the complex circumstances that affect individuals’ and families’ lives. We develop educational programs for law students and practicing attorneys, and we implement our philosophy through a range of community-based activities that have a direct impact on children, families and communities.
CFCC’s founding focus was on promoting a unified family court system in Maryland and nationally. A unified family court is a court structure and operations model that can respond to the full range of legal issues that arise in family law cases—divorce, custody, child support, domestic violence, delinquency, abuse and neglect, among others—within one court, while simultaneously addressing non-legal issues that challenge families, such as education, housing, poverty, parenting, substance use and mental health.
Therapeutic jurisprudence (TJ) is a central tenet of all of CFCC's work and the unified family court model. TJ operates to ensure that all interventions in family problems make matters better, not worse, for families and children. For example, working with judges and court personnel in Maryland, CFCC has facilitated a mission statement for Maryland’s Family Divisions that aims “to provide a fair and efficient forum to resolve family legal matters in a problem-solving manner, with the goal of improving the lives of families and children who appear before the court.”
The ecology of human development is a theoretical paradigm from the social sciences that examines the child and family from a holistic or systems perspective, considering all of the different relationships and structures that affect a child’s life and development. It encourages a comprehensive approach to resolve family problems.