Meet Our Founder

Inspiring People, Changing Lives 

In late January 2021, CFCC Founder and Director and UB Associate Professor of Law Barbara Babb received an email from someone she had not heard from in 24 years.

The writer was the Hon. Mary Ann Diez Floyd, Senior Court Counsel/General Magistrate in Florida’s Twelfth Judicial Circuit. Professor Babb taught Floyd in the Family Law Clinic in the late 1990s. Today, Judge Floyd is a magistrate hearing family law cases in Sarasota County, Florida. She was writing to Babb to say this:

Thank you to someone who had such a positive impact on my education and my career. Keep doing the great work for your students and for all those families you’ve helped. 

For a teacher, there is no greater reward than making a difference in a student’s life. In Babb’s 32-year career as a law professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law, she has influenced thousands of law students like Floyd. As CFCC’s founder, she also has carried her message of and advocacy for a caring family justice system to thousands of judges, attorneys and professionals who work with children and families involved in family law matters.

Babb credits her own teachers and mentors for nurturing her interest in blending social science theory and systems with the law. “I had the tremendous privilege to work with Dr. Urie Bronfenbrenner when I was a graduate student at Cornell University before going on to attend Cornell Law School,” she said. “He opened my eyes to the power that the social sciences have to influence public policy in ways that improve people’s lives.”

Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory, explored in his seminal book, The Ecology of Human Development, maintains that human development unfolds within a system of cultural, social, economic, and political systems. Policies and programs can shape these systems – thereby potentially promoting health and well-being. As a research assistant to Bronfenbrenner, Babb traveled to Cardiff, Wales, in 1977, to work on his five-nation, seven-year study examining stresses and supports in the lives of families with children. What she learned on this project would have a profound impact on her life’s work.

Babb’s implicit perspective  that family law can be a caring profession became explicit when she began to explore therapeutic jurisprudence (TJ), a concept which emerged in the late 1980s as an ethical framework for mental health law. “I became aware of therapeutic jurisprudence in 1994, when I was conducting research for my first law review article,” Babb recalls.  “TJ clearly reflected the way I had approached the practice of family law, both in New York and Maryland. I consequently became the first scholar to apply TJ to family law. Since that time, I have incorporated TJ into all aspects of my work – teaching, scholarship, court reform projects – and I established TJ as one of the underlying theoretical foundations of the Sayra and Neil Meyerhoff Center for Families, Children and the Courts.” Babb says law professors David Wexler and the late Bruce Winnick, co-founders of TJ, have personified the meaning of mentor for her.

This passion and purpose for approaching family law as a caring profession, not an adversarial one that determines “winners” and “losers,” has been the driving force of Babb’s professional career and is her legacy.

Personally, Babb is both a consummate optimist and a confirmed extrovert. She can teach, manage CFCC, and write all day with plenty of energy left over to read fiction in the evenings. She has been in the same book club for 35 years. She cannot wait to get the “all clear” from the Covid-19 pandemic so she can interact with others in person, especially her grown children, her father, and other family members, and indulge in her passion for live music, theater, and travel. She is planning to learn how to play the ukulele, a gift from her husband, Peter Toran, and she hopes to resume playing the piano regularly.  She also intends to remain engaged in some of her favorite activities, including hiking, biking, swimming, and kayaking, and she hopes to encourage some of her family members to join her in a scuba diving escapade, as she is a PADI-certified diver. She is devoted to her family: husband, Peter, and children, Harrison Kobb, Jordan Kobb, Sarah Hoefle (daughter-in-law), and Marin Kobb, and she honors her father (John Babb, now 91 years) and mother (Alice Babb, deceased) “for all they have taught me and have provided me, endlessly and lovingly.”



CFCC’s Founding Principles

Understanding the Unified Family Court’s Ecological and Therapeutic Capacities

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. Our work builds upon two core principles— therapeutic jurisprudence and the ecology of human development —and our programs incorporate and promote problem-solving activities.

Download Chapter Two to learn more about therapeutic jurisprudence, the ecology of human development and how they can be applied in court procedures and practices to improve outcomes.

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 into 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.

Chapter Two of Caring for Families in Court: An Essential Approach to Family Justice, written by Professor Barbara A. Babb and Judith D. Moran, contains an excellent summary of TJ and the ecology of human development, with a particular emphasis on its application in all family court systems. The chapter is available for you to download here.

In addition, you can learn more about CFCC’s work on our website. We also encourage you to join or follow the International Society of Therapeutic Jurisprudence.


What People Say

People have a lot to say about CFCC — and it’s all good!

“The Sayra and Neil Meyerhoff Center for Families, Children and the Courts (CFCC) is one of the crown jewels of the University of Baltimore School of Law.  For more than two decades, CFCC has distinguished the law school nationally and internationally through its passionate, cutting-edge advocacy for family justice system reform.

CFCC has led the way toward unified family courts, therapeutic jurisprudence and the ecology of human development as central tenets of policy and practice in family law.”

– Dean Ronald Weich, University of Baltimore School of Law


“The Family Divisions have emerged as an organic component of our Circuit Courts—not by fiat but from the collaborative participation of judges, legislators, practitioners and advocates. As a leading advocate, CFCC has been instrumental in the development of the unified family court system in Maryland and in the nation.”

– Robert M. Bell, Chief Judge, Maryland Court of Appeals, retired

“The greatest contribution of the University of Baltimore School of Law Sayra and Neil Meyerhoff Center for Families, Children, and the Courts (CFCC) is how it laid the foundation and helped transform family law, especially in Maryland.”

– Richard Abbott, Esq., Director, Juvenile and Family Services


“CFCC has been a force in providing training and education, not only for students at the University of Baltimore (UB) School of Law, but for professionals. … CFCC and AFCC have partnered for nearly 20 years on an annual training program held at UB, designed for parenting coordinators, child custody evaluators, mediators, lawyers, judges, and other family court professionals.  These programs have educated nearly 2,000 professionals worldwide.”

– Peter Salem, Executive Director, Association of Family and Conciliation Courts


“My experiences as a CFCC Student Fellow opened up my eyes to other things that could benefit my client to be counseled on. That type of experience, actually serving people during school, can set you up on a path to value serving others more during the rest of your career.”

– Brian Upshur, Esq., former CFCC Student Fellow, now Assistant Solicitor, City of Baltimore


“My husband and I contribute to many worthwhile causes, but none gives us more pleasure than our support of CFCC. Not only does it help to train lawyers in this critical sphere, but it also improves family courts throughout the country. This approach can truly make a difference in the lives of all the children and families involved. “

– Sayra Meyerhoff, Esq., is a member of UB’s President’s Council and UB Law School’s Dean’s Circle, as well as a prominent philanthropist in the Baltimore area.


“The leading article tying TJ [therapeutic jurisprudence] to family law is Barbara Babb’s seminal piece, An Interdisciplinary Approach to Family Law Jurisprudence: Application of an Ecological and Therapeutic Perspective, 72 Indiana Law Journal 775 (1997). It was Professor Babb who spearheaded the conversation about TJ and family law, resulting in ongoing TJ Family Law scholarship worldwide.

­– David B, Wexler is honorary president of the International Society for Therapeutic Jurisprudence, a professor of law at the University of Puerto Rico, and a distinguished research professor of law emeritus at the University of Arizona.


“Hearing about Professor Babb and CFCC’s work, judicial leaders called upon CFCC to help them with their own family justice system reform initiatives. Often facing fierce resistance from within their own ranks, these brilliant members of judicial and legal communities around the country understood the compelling power of TJ and the unified family court (UFC) model to improve the lives of vulnerable and fractured families in the family court system.”

– Gloria Danziger, Esq., was CFCC’s Senior Fellow from 2002 to 2018. 


“ … I can attest that CFCC changed my career path. I entered law school with the perspective that law was a “one person versus the other,” “winner versus loser” profession. The work and education of CFCC broadened my understanding and my horizons due to the introduction of the tenets of therapeutic jurisprudence.”

– Leigh E. Dalton, J.D., PhD, a former CFCC Student Fellow and now an attorney in the School Law Group at Stock and Leader.

Family Justice System Reform


To view a sampling of our work to improve family justice system, just scroll the image above to download key reports. For additional detail, visit CFCC’s website.

Uplifting the Family Justice System

The Sayra and Neil Meyerhoff Center for Families, Children and the Courts (CFCC) is a national leader in promoting and refining the unified family court model in an effort to mitigate the harms of the traditional family justice system. We view the creation of unified family courts as the most successful court structure and operational model to resolve family conflicts in a therapeutic, ecological and service-based manner. CFCC offers a range of services to courts and jurisdictions seeking to create, implement, improve and evaluate unified family courts.

A unified family court is a single court system with comprehensive subject-matter jurisdiction over all cases involving children and families, meaning the court has the power to hear and coordinate cases such as divorce, custody, child support, marital property, alimony, adoption, paternity, domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, and juvenile delinquency, among others. This structural and operational court models offers the best opportunities to produce resolutions tailored to an individual family’s legal, personal, emotional and social needs.

CFCC provides in-depth consultation and hands-on assistance to state and local courts interested to implement a unified family court. A body of extensive written advocacy for unified family courts underpins CFCC’s work.

Professor Barbara Babb and CFCC staff have played an instrumental role in transforming family justice in Maryland, helping to create and launch the Family Divisions and authoring Performance Standards and Measures for Maryland’s Family Divisions (Maryland Judiciary, 2002, with Jeffrey Kuhn). In addition, CFCC has provided services to jurisdictions in California, District of Columbia, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, Ontario, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Utah, among others.

CFCC’s work also has reached across oceans. Professor Babb is a member of the Singapore Family Justice Courts’ Advisory and Research Council on Therapeutic Justice (ARC), created in June 2020. She was appointed in June by Justice Debbie Ong, presiding judge of the Singapore Family Justice Courts (FJC).

The ARC will work with the Singapore Family Justice Courts to incorporate TJ as the overarching framework of the Singapore family justice system, a concept Babb originally applied to family court reform and about which she has written and spoken for decades. Babb says the ARC’s work will include examining court processes through a TJ lens and, where appropriate, improving those processes.

“The ARC appointment is quite a privilege, and it is extremely exciting for me,” says Babb, “as it encompasses all of my advocacy and scholarship since I joined the UB faculty in 1989. I am extremely honored to work with the Singapore FJC community and the other ARC members.”





Truancy Court Program, TCP

Take a Peek Inside CFCC’s Truancy Court Program


CFCC’s Truancy Court Program Tackles School Attendance and Much More

Download an informative description of CFCC’s Truancy Court Program.

The University of Baltimore School of Law Sayra and Neil Meyerhoff Center for Families, Children and the Courts (CFCC) Truancy Court Program (TCP), a voluntary, non-punitive, data driven program to identify and address the root causes of each child’s truancy, is celebrating its 15th Anniversary in 2020-2021.

The TCP began in Spring 2005 with seed funding from The Charles Crane Family Foundation, used to plan and design the TCP.  The TCP Team at that time consisted of a TCP Coordinator, a TCP Mentor, and a volunteer TCP Judge.  Over the years, the problems faced by TCP students and their families became increasingly traumatic and overwhelming. To address these escalating needs, the TCP adjusted its operational model to add a TCP Attorney and a TCP Social Worker.

The Difficult Lives of Baltimore City Students

As an example of the need for these intensive resources, let’s look at the experience of one 4th grader, Amelia*.  Amelia had nine absences in the two quarters preceding her participation in the TCP.  This child’s home environment was very challenging:

  • Amelia’s mother was in prison, and her father was the custodial parent of record.
  • Amelia lived with her maternal great grandmother during the week to make getting to school easier.
  • She stayed with her father, who was unemployed and living with his brother, over the weekends.  Their home was in South Baltimore, and Amelia’s school was in East Baltimore.

Amelia’s father reported feeling depressed and hopeless about his financial and housing situations.  He was on the waiting list for Baltimore City Public Housing and Section 8 vouchers, but not hopeful.

CFCC Former Staff Member Cassie Jackson briefs Hon. David W. Young, Associate Judge, Baltimore City Circuit Court, 8th Judicial Circuit (Retired) on a TCP Students attendance and grades.

TCP Team members had the skills to help with these difficult problems.  The TCP Social Worker gave the father referrals for outpatient therapy, which he was willing to consider.  She also discussed the need for therapy for Amelia, due to the complicated feelings around her mother’s release from prison.  With her father’s consent, the TCP Social Worker arranged for the school social worker to see Amelia regularly.

When Amelia’s father reported that his brother was being evicted, the TCP Social Worker provided him with referrals for three homeless programs.  The TCP Attorney contacted the school to ask that Amelia’s father be listed as homeless for educational purposes to ensure that Amelia received benefits under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, which includes transportation to school.

Despite all of the family’s challenges, Amelia was doing well academically and graduated from the TCP, improving her attendance by over 65%.  Sadly, many Baltimore City children face similarly difficult circumstances, and many do not fare as well.


Showing Up for Baltimore City Children

Like all of the volunteer TCP Judges, Hon. Catherine Curran O’Malley Associate Judge, District Court of Maryland, District 1, Baltimore City, helds TCP students accountable and also celebrated their successes.

The TCP has served over 2,600 public school students and their families in four counties, in 51 schools, 41 of which are in Baltimore City.  Over 25 Maryland judges and magistrates have volunteered their time to serve as TCP Judges in participating schools.  The program seeks to improve behavior and attitudes toward school among TCP students and families.

Four principles guide the TCP’s operation:

  • A therapeutic, holistic approach – a non-adversarial, trauma-informed model
  • Earlyinterventiona voluntary program serving students with 5-30 unexcused absences / tardies in the prior two marking periods
  • A focus on prevention, family involvement, and empowerment – a multi-disciplinary team connecting families with available social and legal services and supports
  • Rewarding progress – incentives for TCP students meeting short-term attendance, academic, and behavioral goals, as well as graduation gifts upon successful completion of the program
Tutoring is a big part of the TCP program.

All TCP students receive one-on-one weekly conversations with a judge, mentoring, parent outreach, case management services, and resource referrals, as needed.  The TCP Attorney reaches out to families to provide much needed legal advice, resources, and referrals to address problems such as homelessness, eviction, special education needs, public assistance benefits, and energy assistance.  Similarly, the TCP Social Worker provides counseling to students, as well as resources and referrals to help families obtain food stamps, mental health services, and substance use services, among others. The TCP Team also regularly invites speakers to the high schools to talk about pathways to college, finding employment, financial literacy, and planning for the future.

Everyone pitches in to tutor – the TCP Team, CFCC Student Fellows, and recruited UB law students.

The TCP Team conducts two 10 to 14-week sessions each academic year (fall and spring), with approximately 80 students in each session.  The TCP generally operates in five schools; however, the number of schools varies due to the grant-funded nature of the program.  Each year, approximately 75% of TCP participants “graduate” from the program.  Students graduate when they demonstrate a 65% improvement in absences and/or tardies, or at the discretion of the TCP Judge.

Changing the Trajectory

Researchers who have studied the causes and correlates of delinquency have identified truancy as a key step in the school-to-prison pipeline. The TCP effectively diverts youth from the juvenile justice system and reduces recidivism. For the past three years, the TCP has tracked juvenile arrest data for approximately 439 students. Many of these students have had multiple arrests prior to participating in the TCP.  From these data, CFCC has observed the following:

An ACCE graduate of the TCP celebrates finishing the program with Hon. Miriam B. Hutchins, Associate Judge, District Court of Maryland, District 1, Baltimore City (Retired)
  • Forty-seven TCP students had some Department of Juvenile Services involvement, totaling 108 arrests.
  • Only three students out of 439 were arrested while participating in the TCP.
  • Thirty-four students were arrested before participating in the TCP, with a total of 72 arrests. Only seven of the 34 students were re-arrested after participating in the TCP, and one was re-arrested while participating in the TCP.
  • Less than 5% of the 439 students tracked were arrested or re-arrested after participating in the TCP.

Over the years, the TCP Team began to see higher rates of trauma among the students, including gun violence, addiction, homelessness, bullying, and incarcerated parents.  In 2016, the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners and the Chief Executive Officer of Baltimore City Schools pledged to make Baltimore City Schools a restorative practices district as one response to trauma.  As a result, the TCP Team began implementing restorative practices at all of the TCP schools.  The TCP Mentor teaches restorative practices principles and facilitates weekly restorative circles with TCP students. The group discusses various ways to de-escalate conflict, and, in so doing, the circle exercises provide students much needed skills to address situations that arise at home or in the community.

Over the past 15 years, CFCC has refined the TCP to respond to the complicated needs of Baltimore City’s children. CFCC is proud of that work and is deeply grateful to those who have helped make the TCP successful. The TCP Team plans to keep showing up for Baltimore’s children.

*Names have been changed for privacy.

Listen to a TCP Student and Family

What matters most to us is what TCP Students and Families think of the TCP program. They say the TCP Team helps them “get back to class” and “get on track and stay on track.” Listen below.



Law School’s Truancy Court Program Named a ‘Bright Idea’ by Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government

The Truancy Court Program developed by the University of Baltimore School of Law’s Sayra and Neil Meyerhoff Center for Families, Children and the Courts (CFCC) was recognized in 2012 by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, as a Bright Idea.

Judge Jones presents a Certificate of Completion, and Spencer Hall, TCP Coordinator presents a Bluetooth speaker, to a TCP Student to celebrate successful completion of the TCP Program.

Bright Ideas recognizes and shares innovative government programs and partnerships. The designation is bestowed upon programs that provide creative and effective solutions to widespread problems, such as truancy, especially those that can be considered and adopted by other communities. CFCC’s Truancy Court Program is one of 111 programs selected from across the country by a team of policy experts from academic and public sectors.

The Truancy Court Program was selected as a Bright Idea for its leadership and innovation in transforming the way schools and courts approach truant students and their families. When CFCC began the program in 2005, truancy had reached epidemic proportions in Maryland. Schools often used a punitive or coercive approach to truancy, filing criminal charges against parents of truant students.

Convinced that a comprehensive, collaborative and community-based approach would be more effective, CFCC convened school and court stakeholders to develop a program model based on a non-adversarial and holistic approach to identify and address the reasons underlying a child’s truant behavior. Since 2005, CFCC’s Truancy Court Program has served more than 2,600 students and their families in 51 schools in Baltimore City and other Maryland jurisdictions. More than 25 Maryland judges and masters have volunteered in the program.

“The CFCC Truancy Court Program advances two important goals for the University of Baltimore School of Law,” Dean Ronald Weich said. “It gives us a chance to serve our community, and it helps prepare our students to be more effective lawyers when they graduate. Law students who work with CFCC get hands-on experience as they learn about the challenges many young people face.”

Learn more about CFCC’s Truancy Court Program.

Post J.D. – Certificate in Family Law

Innovative Online Post-J.D. Certificate in Family Law

The University of Baltimore School of Law offers the nation’s only Post-J.D. Certificate in Family Law. Offered fully online as of Fall 2019

The University of Baltimore School of Law offers the nation’s only Post-J.D. Certificate in Family Law. Taught fully online as of Fall 2019, the program is designed both for new attorneys beginning to practice family law and for experienced attorneys seeking to add family law expertise to their practice. This fast-paced program blends theory and practice and offers knowledge and skills that lawyers can use in their practice now through a hands-on, real-world experiential curriculum.

Essential Professional Development in an In-Demand Area of the Law

Family law is a key component of many attorneys’ practices. The volume of family law cases is increasing dramatically in jurisdictions nationwide, outpacing that of other cases in courts. For example, in Maryland during the 2018 fiscal year, 45 percent of trial court filings consisted of family law cases. A rise in self-represented litigants, the current shift away from family law litigation toward alternative dispute resolution, and the multi-dimensional health and social issues faced by families in crisis all contribute to make family law cases increasingly complex.

The Post-J.D. Certificate in Family Law addresses the need for an enhanced and in-depth, interdisciplinary, practice-focused curriculum that prepares attorneys for the full range of issues that arise in the practice of family law.

Geared to Working Professionals

Faculty and Post J.D. graduates meet during an annual networking event.

The certificate’s 16 credits can be completed in 12 months of study or participants can take classes at their own pace. With all remote class meetings in the evenings, this exclusively online program is tailored to the busy schedules of attorneys.

Developed and Taught by Experts at the Cutting Edge of Family Law

An advisory committee of leading family law attorneys and judges in Maryland has collaborated with University of Baltimore School of Law faculty to develop the program’s structure and content. Program faculty include distinguished practicing attorneys and judges who are leaders in family law. The program offers a firm grounding in the core skills and knowledge essential to the practice of family law and insights into the day-to-day practice of this dynamic area of the law from those who are at the leading edge of the field.

UB is recognized widely for the quality and breadth of its family law courses, clinical and experiential offerings, family law center, and the Family Law Area of Concentration within the J.D. program. The certificate program is housed in the University of Baltimore School of Law’s Sayra and Neil Meyerhoff Center for Families, Children and the Courts, a nationally renowned center of advocacy, legal education and community-based action dedicated to transforming the family justice system, improving family courts, and connecting courts to communities. CFCC works to ensure that the practice of family law in Maryland, the nation, and around the world improves the lives of families and the health of communities.

Financial aid is available to students in the program who meet credit requirements for federal financial aid: 6 credits in spring or fall, 4 credits in summer. Applicants who meet the program’s advanced standing requirements may request a course waiver for “The Craft of Problem-Solving and Advocacy in Family Law.”

More information about the Post-J.D. Certificate in Family Law is available here.

Food Drive

Leading by Example

According to the Maryland Food Bank, 1 in 4 Marylanders face food insecurity (hunger, lack of access to food stores, insufficient local food supply), despite the fact that Maryland is one of the nation’s wealthiest states and despite the fact that there are many organizations working in Maryland and Baltimore City to ease this crisis. It is just never enough because persistent poverty is the underlying cause of hunger.

We know firsthand that some of our Baltimore City Truancy Court Program students come to school hungry and sometimes miss the free school breakfast for which almost all Baltimore City Public School students qualify. That is why our staff members often have a stash of power bars ready during the morning TCP sessions to hold that hunger down until lunch.

Twice a year, however, we want to do more than that. We want to take care of our own. Since 2012, CFCC has raised additional funds – mostly through small donations from the University of Baltimore community – to supply each TCP student’s family with a full holiday meal at Thanksgiving and the winter holiday, when we can raise sufficient funds. Over the years, we have raised more than $18,000 to fund the holiday food baskets.

The first social worker, Eliseba Osore, suggested the holiday food drive concept.  She went on to found ShareBaby, Inc., a baby pantry nonprofit serving Baltimore City and Baltimore County, and the TCP Team has she has supported her enthusiastically since.

TCP’s first-social worker, Eliseba Osore

“I came up with the idea to fundraise for and create Thanksgiving baskets for our TCP families because I saw that one major barrier that our students were facing was lack of material items. After weeks of hearing from students about not having coats, or uniforms, or umbrellas, in our TCP sessions, I felt that it was my duty to understand the varying needs of our families and shed light on them to the rest of the team. I also knew that our TCP Team had strong networks and that we could provide a wonderful gift to our families during the holidays. Much to my delight, the team was completely on board and eager to jump in. Each year we tweaked and improved the program to better serve families.”

The Thanksgiving basket project was easily one of my favorite parts of my job during my time at TCP. It really brought our team together to do something special and the families were so happy and grateful. I know for a fact that without our baskets, many of the families wouldn’t have had a Thanksgiving dinner that year and I am grateful that we could help alleviate that stress!”


What Does the Volunteer TCP Judge Do?

Judges and Other Leaders Volunteer for CFCC’s Truancy Court Program

CFCC’s Truancy Court Program (TCP) relies on the exceptional commitments of volunteer TCP Judges, CFCC staff, University of Baltimore law students, public-school partners and generous funders who financially support the TCP.

The time commitment and passion of the TCP Judges, made up of Maryland District and Circuit Court judges, magistrates, and attorneys who volunteer to lead the TCP sessions is especially noteworthy. TCP Judges carve out time from their busy schedules to meet with students, teachers, and parents in school, once a week, for a duration of 10 to 14 weeks, depending on the school.

TCP Judge’s responsibilities include:

        • Preside over the Truancy Court Program at elementary, middle, and high schools
        • Review the weekly folders documenting attendance and grades for each student prepared by the student’s teachers and the TCP Team
        • Meet one-on-one with each child in the program, supported by the TCP Team and school representatives
        • Discuss issues and school attendance and performance with the student
        • Suggests next steps and goals for student
        • Offer encouragement and praise every week for 10 to 14 weeks
        • Celebrate the students’ graduations

Meetings between volunteer TCP Judges, TCP participants, and families bring the power and authority of the judge to the school without a punitive focus or adversarial atmosphere.

Their judge’s stature provides a powerful presence: When TCP Judges explain the immediate and long-term consequences of truancy, children and parents listen. Perhaps even more rewarding, by the end of the TCP session, each family has had the unforgettable experience of a judge who listens, cares and advocates for them.

The TCP is a rewarding experience for the judges too, many of whom have volunteered for five or more years! We honor and thank all of them for their dedication to the TCP and the participating students and families.

Participating Judges and Magistrates from Fall 2005 to Present

*Indicates TCP Honor Roll Members with 5+ years of service

Hon. Paul E. Alpert, Judge, Court of Special Appeals (Retired)

Hon. Nathan Braverman, Associate Judge, District Court of Maryland, District 1, Baltimore City (Retired)

*Hon. Yvette M. Bryant, Associate Judge, Baltimore City Circuit Court, 8th Judicial Circuit; Judge-in-Charge, Family Division, 2013–2018

Steve Chaikin, Esq., Assistant State’s Attorney, Montgomery County

Hon. Kathleen Cox, Associate Judge, Baltimore County Circuit Court, Third Judicial Circuit

Hon. John F. Fader, Baltimore County Circuit Court, Third Judicial District (Retired)

Cynthia M. Ferris, Esq., Master in Chancery (Former), Anne Arundel County Circuit Court, 5th Judicial Circuit

*Mark Friedenthal, Assistant Public Defender, Office of the Public Defender, Maryland; 2019 recipient of the Anthony “Bubba” Green Star Player Award

Hon. Althea M. Handy, Associate Judge, Baltimore City Circuit Court, 8th Judicial Circuit, Judge-in-Charge, Civil Division, 2013–2018

Hon. Miriam B. Hutchins, Associate Judge, District Court of Maryland, District 1, Baltimore City (Retired)

Hon. Norman E. Johnson, Jr., Associate Judge, District Court of Maryland, District 1, Baltimore City (Retired)

Hon. Cynthia H. Jones, Associate Judge, Baltimore City Circuit Court, 8th Judicial Circuit

Magistrate Dawn Jones, Baltimore City Circuit Court

Linda A. Koban, Esq., Magistrate, Baltimore City Circuit Court (Retired)

*Joyce T. Mitchell, Esq., Magistrate, Baltimore City Juvenile Court (Retired)

Hon. Catherine Curran O’Malley, Associate Judge, District Court of Maryland, District 1, Baltimore City

Hon. Vincent Mulieri, Associate Judge, District Court of Maryland, District 7, Anne Arundel County

*Kristin L. Peacock, Esq., Magistrate for Juvenile Causes, Baltimore City Circuit Court, 8th Judicial Circuit

*Hon. Charles J. Peters, Associate Judge, Baltimore City Circuit Court, 8th Judicial Circuit, Judge-in-Charge, Criminal Division

Lynae T. Polk, Esq., Magistrate for Juvenile Causes, Baltimore City Circuit Court, 8th Judicial Circuit

Hon. Joan E. Ryon, Associate Judge, Montgomery County Circuit Court, 6th Judicial Circuit

Hon. James B. Sarsfield, Associate Judge, Montgomery County, District 6, District Court of Maryland (Retired)

Hon. Kathleen Sweeney, Associate Judge, District Court of Maryland, District 1, Baltimore City

Hon. Ronald A. Silkworth, Associate Judge, Anne Arundel County Circuit Court, 5th Judicial Circuit; Chief Judge, 1996–2019 (Retired)

Julius A. Silvestri, Jr., Esq., Magistrate for Juvenile Causes, Baltimore City Circuit Court, 8th Judicial Circuit

George Simms III, Esq., Assistant State’s Attorney, Montgomery County

Hon. Thomas J. S. Waxter, Jr., Associate Judge, Baltimore City Circuit Court, 8th Judicial Circuit (Retired)

Hon. Halee F. Weinstein, Associate Judge, District Court of Maryland, District 1, Baltimore City, Judge-in-Charge, Eastside District Court, 2014–Present

*Hon. David W. Young, Associate Judge, Baltimore City Circuit Court, 8th Judicial Circuit (Retired) Violetville Elementary

Student Fellows

CFCC Student Fellows: A Re-affirming Experiential Law Class


During weekly seminars, Student Fellows undertake an in-depth examination of the policies and theories surrounding court reform in family law.

CFCC’s Student Fellows Program I is an experiential course that combines a weekly two-hour classroom component and students taking an active role in research and writing associated with CFCC’s projects, including the Truancy Court Program. Three credits are earned.

In the course, Student Fellows undertake an in-depth examination of the policies and theories surrounding court reform in family law, including unified family courts, therapeutic jurisprudence, and the ecology of human development. They then apply what they have learned to their research, writings, or work in the Truancy Court Program.

CFCC’s Student Fellows Program II is a continuation of the Student Fellows experience and is open only to students who have successfully completed the first semester and by permission of the instructor. Credits will vary from 1 to 2 credits per student.

CFCC Student Fellows consistently say how much the experience reminds them about the passion that brought them to law school and how it has helped them clarify how they want to practice law when they leave. By looking at the family justice system through a lens of therapeutic jurisprudence and the ecology of human development, law students refocus on how the law can help rather than harm the clients they will serve.



CFCC’s Student Fellows Program provides law students with a rich range of experiences: lively classroom discussions, with an inspiring professor  (top few photos), selected readings and classroom instructional activities, real-life experience in our Truancy Court Program, and working closely with sitting judges (third row, right), often for the first time.

Influential Conferences and Trainings


Conferences and Symposia That Inspire and Educate

For over 20 years, CFCC has organized and hosted dozens of influential conferences and symposia, featuring speakers who are leaders in family justice reform and hundreds of participants from across the country. We also have presented at close to 100 conferences, symposia and workshops – worldwide – further sharing important perspectives on the policy and practice of family law and unified family courts.


Urban Child Symposium

Since 2009, CFCC has convened a multidisciplinary panel of professionals to address some of the most pressing long-term and emerging challenges facing urban children, their families and their communities—and discuss best practices that offer hope for the future.

More info

AFCC Trainings

CFCC and the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) have partnered on annual family law trainings at the University of Baltimore School of Law since 2003, reaching more than 2,000 people. Topics have included advanced issues in child custody, parenting coordination and substance use, among many others.

In addition, Professor Barbara Babb and CFCC Staff have been speakers at numerous AFCC conferences. Our relationship with AFCC is unique among the various professional associations with which CFCC works. Most legal associations are primarily for judges, attorneys and court staff. AFCC’s membership and CFCC’s constituency embrace both legal professionals and court services providers, such as psychologists, social workers, therapists and more. Working together, all of these professionals can develop the best outcomes for families and children who come to court.

More info

National Leadership Summit on School-Justice Partnerships

CFCC Founder and Director, Professor Barbara Babb and Senior Fellow Gloria Danziger presented on “Truancy – School Engagement and Re-engagement. Interdisciplinary teams consisting of educators, judges, and court staff from all 50 states attended this conference to develop strategies to address the dramatic increase in the number of juveniles who were truant, suspended, or expelled — and often arrested — in the nation’s school systems.

Families Matter Symposium

In 2010, CFCC and, the American Bar Association Section of Family Law collaborated to launch the multi-year “Families Matter” initiative. The Families Matter Symposium convened an interdisciplinary group of experts in the fields of psychology, law, accounting, and mediation to brainstorm about reducing the harmful effects of the legal process in family law cases. The symposium resulted in the publication Families Matter: Recommendations to Improve Outcomes for Children and Families in Court. Please see the Publications section of this blog.

More info

Summit on Unified Family Courts: Serving Children and Families Efficiently, Effectively and Responsibly, May 2007

The American Bar Association (ABA) and the University of Baltimore School of Law Center for Families, Children and the Courts (CFCC) sponsored the conference in Baltimore. The participants, representing 25 states, focused on unified family courts, designed to address the needs of families in a holistic manner. Under the UFC model, the courts attempt to resolve the family’s legal needs, including issues such as divorce, custody, child support, and domestic violence, among others, as well as to tackle non-legal needs, such as substance use, mental health issues, and family violence.

Through plenaries and breakout sessions, the conference covered issues critical to the development of unified family courts, including services and accountability; standards and measures to assess unified family courts; the critical need for judicial leadership and training; the ways to establish a unified family courts; addiction and other non-legal issues; collaboration in the legal community; and self-represented litigants. Participants were able to attend sessions, which covered the trajectory of unified family courts—from the early stages of UFC development to those involving well-established UFCs.

You can read more about this conference in the Fall 2007 UFC Connection, the inaugural issue, and the only publication in the nation focused on unified family courts.

Publications & Resources

Sharing Our Work, Inviting You to Join Our Network

We invite you to learn more about CFCC through a variety of resources, including information sheets, videos, e-newsletters, and comprehensive reports and training publications,

CFCC Information Sheets

– Unified Family Courts: Efficient, Effective, Responsible

– Truancy Court Program: Changing One Child’s Life at a Time


Unified Family Court Connection Newsletter

CFCC’s Unified Family Court Connection is the only newsletter in the country devoted exclusively to unified family court issues. UFC Connection is published twice a year. Read the newsletter.

Full Court Press E-Newsletter

CFCC’s e-newsletter, issued monthly, covers a wide range of issues related to unified family courts, our Truancy Court Program, juvenile justice issues and family law. Subscribing keeps you updated on CFCC news and events. Read recent issues.

You can receive both of these publications by subscribing to the CFCC Network.

Benchbook on Substance Use Disorders for Family Courts, Second Edition

Substance use disorders are major factors in family court proceedings. Yet the problem of substance use disorders remains largely unaddressed in the nation’s family courts. The updated edition of our Benchbook on Substance Use Disorders for Family Courts is an important new work that should be on every family court professional’s desk. It provides information regarding best practices, resources, and science and recommends ways that treatment providers, judges, magistrates, attorneys and others in the family court system can work together to address substance use disorders. Price: $69, plus tax and shipping, if applicable.

Download the order form to get your copy of the Benchbook on Substance Use Disorders for Family Courts, Second Edition.

Truancy Court Program Toolkit, Second Edition, Implementation Package & Technical Assistance

CFCC’s Truancy Court Program Toolkit, Second Edition provides a step-by-step guide to show you how to start and maintain an effective truancy reduction program. The Toolkit includes detailed descriptions of the roles of each member of the Truancy Court Program team, including action items and recommendations; step-by-step guide to implementation, from student selection to graduation; comprehensive collection of useful forms, including the school application form, sample invitation letter to parents, consent form, evaluation/assessment forms and weekly teacher reports; a guide to commonly encountered legal and social issues and solutions; and the Truancy Court Program Mentor Manual, a separate 32-page book providing specific guidance for a Truancy Court Program Mentor. Price: $149.99 plus tax and shipping, if applicable.

Our Truancy Court Program Implementation Package will assist you if you are ready to begin a comprehensive truancy reduction program. The package includes five hard copies of the Truancy Court Program Toolkit, Second Edition and Mentor Manual; a customizable electronic copy of program documents; personalized coaching via telephone and e-mail with our CFCC field experts. Price: $699.99 plus tax and shipping, if applicable.

Download the order form to get your copy of the Truancy Court Program Toolkit, Second Edition, or our complete Truancy Court Program Implementation Package.

CFCC provides intensive technical assistance, including complete operation of a Truancy Court Program or consultation on other juvenile and family court issues on a fee basis. We offer a menu of options, ranging from training and technical assistance to on-site operation of programs. For pricing on specific services, or to discuss how CFCC can help you address truancy in your school or district, please contact us.

Urban Child Symposium Knowledge Base

For more than a decade, CFCC has gathered together experts from a wide array of disciplines to share their research and lessons from the field to shed light on the needs of urban children—and discuss strategies and programs that are making a difference. Explore the Urban Child Symposium archive to view reports, presentations and videos from past events—and information on the next Urban Child Symposium.


More publication and resource information

For more information or a report from a specific project, or to learn more about CFCC’s consulting and technical assistance, contact CFCC’s Director, Professor Barbara Babb, at 410.837.5661 or


Funders, Partners and Clients

Thank You to Our Many Supporters!

CFCC is grateful for the generous support our work has received and for the opportunities to collaborate with partners and clients throughout our region and nationally. If you would like to know more about opportunities to work with or support CFCC, please contact Director and Founder, Professor Barbara Babb.

  • Abell Foundation
  • American Bar Association
  • Anne Arundel County Public Schools
  • Association of Family and Conciliation Courts
  • AT&T Aspire Program
  • Baltimore City Foundation, Inc.
  • Baltimore City Public Schools
  • Baltimore Direct Services
  • California Administrative Office of the Courts
  • Annie E. Casey Foundation
  • The Charles Crane Family Foundation
  • District of Columbia Family Court Project, D.C. Superior Court
  • Family Division, Ninth Judicial Circuit, Kalamazoo County, Michigan
  • Florida Family Courts
  • Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention
  • Indiana Family Court Initiative, Indiana Supreme Court
  • Justice Management Institute
  • Kramon & Graham, P.A.
  • The Zanvyl and Isabelle Krieger Fund
  • Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, Unified Family Court Pilot Project
  • Maryland Administrative Office of the Courts
  • Maryland Department of Human Resources
  • Maryland Department of Juvenile Services
  • Maryland Legal Services Corporation
  • Maryland Bar Foundation
  • Maryland State Bar Association
  • Maryland Judiciary
  • Montgomery County Public Schools
  • Mr. Michael Morin
  • National Center for State Courts
  • Nebraska Court Improvement Project
  • New Mexico Family Court
  • Ober|Kaler Community Grants Program
  • The William J. and Dorothy K. O’Neill Foundation
  • Open Society Institute – Baltimore
  • Ruff Roofing
  • The Helen J. Serini Foundation
  • Shelby County Court Task Force, Memphis, Tennessee
  • State Farm Good Neighbor Citizenship Program
  • Thomson West
  • The Wheeler Foundation
  • Wright Family Foundation
  • University of Baltimore Foundation
  • University of Baltimore School of Law
  • U.S. Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention

How We Got Here


CFCC’s Beginnings

The Fall 2020 alumni magazine features an excellent article on CFCC’s history and the TCP. Download it here.

The driving force behind the Sayra and Neil Meyerhoff Center for Families, Children and the Courts (CFCC) has been the leadership of CFCC’s founder and director, Professor Barbara A. Babb. Her early recognition of the importance of approaching family law issues through a holistic lens led her to embrace the concept of unified family courts in the 1990s. She was co-chair of the American Bar Association (ABA) Family Law Section’s Committee on Unified Family Courts and a key consultant for a two-year ABA project establishing unified family court pilot programs in six jurisdictions including Baltimore. The success of the Baltimore project served as a model for the creation of Maryland’s Family Divisions in 1998 and led to the launch of CFCC in August 2000. Around this time, Professor Babb also became interested in the concept of therapeutic jurisprudence and attended the first meeting of the International Society for Therapeutic Jurisprudence.

The decade following was a heady time for family justice reform. The American Bar Association Section (ABA) of Family Law’s Committee on Unified Family Courts was advocating vigorously for the creation of unified family courts nationwide, and there was keen interest among jurisdictions across the country. CFCC established itself as a leader in this movement and continues to advance the concept today.

In addition, CFCC’s work over the years expanded to include:

  • the Truancy Court Program
  • significant contributions to the field of substance use disorders education for family courts
  • court reform technical assistance projects
  • innovative family law education for law students through the creation of the CFCC Student Fellows Program class
  • Creation of the Post-J.D. Certificate in Family Law, and
  • Influential conferences, symposia and publications.

CFCC’s website at the University of Baltimore School of Law contains a wealth of information about our projects. Access the website here.

Staff Through the Decades











CFCC Staff over the years and individual photos of current  and recent staff in no specific order from left to right (top row) Rebecca Stahl, Esq., Deputy Director, Katrice Williams, Program Administrative Specialist, Arion Alston, TCP Mentor Coordinator, Michele Hong, Esq., CFCC Program Manager, (bottom row) Katherine Davis, Esq., Former TCP Attorney, Spencer Hall, Esq., TCP Program Coordinator, Eileen Canfield, Former TCP Social Worker, Eileen Canfield, Former TCP Social Worker

CFCC’s Extraordinary Staff Through the Decades

Throughout its 20 years, CFCC has had the great good fortune to attract and retain outstanding staff members and consultants. It’s a testimony to both CFCC’s substantive work and environment that several key people have “boomeranged”, leaving then returning cheerfully a few years later. 

Gloria H. Danziger, JD, served the longest tenure of any staff member at CFCC and was instrumental in CFCC’s growth. She was CFCC’s Senior Fellow from 2002 through 2018. With a law degree and an M.Phil in politics and international relations, 15 years as a editor/reporter, plus an interest in court reform, truancy, literacy and substance use disorders, Danziger made substantial contributions to CFCC’s growth. She met Professor Babb through their mutual work at the American Bar Association (ABA) when Danziger was Staff Director of the Standing Committee on Substance Abuse. Once joining CFCC, Babb and Danziger worked side by side for 16 years until Danziger, eager to travel more, retired in 2018. In the 16 or so months after she retired, Danziger visited Myanmar (Burma), South Africa, Uganda, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, France, Italy, England. She is looking forward to more travel adventures when international travel resumes. 

Current Staff

  • Barbara A. Babb, Esq., Founder and Director
  • Arion Alston, TCP Mentor Coordinator
  • Spencer Hall, Esq., TCP Program Coordinator
  • Michele Hong, Esq., CFCC Program Manager
  • Rebecca Stahl, Esq., Deputy Director
  • Katrice Williams, Program Administrative Specialist
  • Kim Carlin, Consultant
  • Steve and Irene Glorioso, Consultants, Auburn Associates
  • Georgene Kaleina, Esq., Editorial Consultant
  • Nancy Petersen, Consultant

Former Staff

  • Marcellus Anderson, Program Administrative Specialist
  • Andrea Bento, Esq., Truancy Court Program Manager
  • Eileen Canfield, TCP Social Worker
  • Sharon Curley, Program Administrative Specialist
  • Gloria Danziger, Esq., Senior Fellow
  • Katherine Davis, Esq., TCP Attorney
  • Anthony “Bubba” Green, TCP Mentor Coordinator (deceased)
  • Kevin Hagin, Administrative Assistant
  • Catherine “Cassie” Jackson, Esq., TCP Co-Manager
  • Ellen Line, TCP Social Worker
  • Mimi Lumeh, Administrative Assistant
  • Saralyn Lyons, Administrative Assistant
  • Judith D. Moran, JD, Senior Fellow
  • Eliza Mullen, Administrative Assistant
  • Eliseba Osore, LCSW, TCP Social Worker
  • Sharon Rubinstein, Esq., Senior Fellow
  • Patricia Schminke, Truancy Court Program Coordinator
  • Jana White, Esq. Truancy Court Program Coordinator
  • Phyllis Zhu, LSCW, TCP Social Worker
  • Alice Cherbonnier, Graphic Design Consultant
  • Dave Crumpton, Consultant
  • Diane Nunn, Esq., Nebraska Consultant
  • Jacob Stone, TCP Mentor Consultant