Decoding Child Welfare Terms

Welcome to our comprehensive guide to Child Welfare and Foster Care terminology. Understanding these terms is crucial for navigating the complex landscape of child welfare. Below is a list of commonly used terms and their definitions.

Terms and Definitions

  1. Adoption Assistance: Definition: Financial and support services provided to adoptive parents to help meet the needs of a child with special needs.
  2. Adoption Home Study: Definition: A thorough assessment of prospective adoptive parents to ensure a suitable and stable home for a child.
  3. Adoption Subsidy: Definition: Financial support provided to adoptive parents, often based on the child’s special needs or circumstances.
  4. CANS (Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths): Definition: A standardized assessment tool used to evaluate the strengths and needs of children involved in the child welfare system.
  5. CAPTA (Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act): Definition: Federal legislation providing funding and guidelines to states for preventing and responding to child abuse and neglect.
  6. Case Plan: Definition: A customized plan outlining specific goals and actions for the well-being of a child in foster care, often created by social workers and parents.
  7. CASA (Court-Appointed Special Advocate): Definition: Trained volunteers appointed by the court to advocate for the best interests of a child in foster care.
  8. Child Advocacy Center (CAC): Definition: A facility where professionals collaborate to investigate and provide support for children who are victims of abuse or witnesses to violent crimes.
  9. Child and Family Team (CFT): Definition: A collaborative approach involving parents, caregivers, professionals, and sometimes the child, working together to develop and implement plans for the child’s well-being.
  10. Child Protective Services (CPS): Definition: A government agency responsible for investigating allegations of child abuse or neglect and providing intervention and support when necessary.
  11. Child Welfare Information Gateway: Definition: A resource center providing information, resources, and tools to help professionals and the public understand and navigate the child welfare system.
  12. Court-Appointed Attorney: Definition: An attorney appointed by the court to represent the legal interests of a child or parent during child welfare proceedings.
  13. Court-Ordered Supervised Visitation: Definition: Visits between a child in foster care and their biological parents that are monitored by a professional to ensure safety.
  14. Cultural Competence: Definition: The ability of child welfare professionals to understand and respect the cultural backgrounds of children and families they serve.
  15. Dependency Court: Definition: A specialized court that handles cases involving child abuse and neglect, making decisions about the legal status and placement of children.
  16. Educational Stability: Definition: Ensuring that children in foster care experience minimal disruptions in their education when changing placements.
  17. Family Group Decision-Making (FGDM): Definition: A collaborative approach that involves extended family members in decision-making processes related to a child’s placement and well-being.
  18. Family Reunification Services: Definition: Support services and interventions aimed at helping families address issues that led to the removal of the child, facilitating reunification.
  19. Foster Care: Definition: A temporary living arrangement for children who cannot live with their biological parents due to safety concerns or other issues.
  20. Guardian ad Litem: Definition: A legal representative appointed by the court to advocate for the best interests of a child during legal proceedings.
  21. Guardianship Assistance Program: Definition: Financial and support services provided to relative caregivers who become legal guardians of children in foster care.
  22. Home Study: Definition: An assessment conducted by social workers to evaluate the suitability and safety of a prospective foster or adoptive home.
  23. Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA): Definition: Federal law that governs the removal and out-of-home placement of Native American children, emphasizing the importance of preserving their culture and tribal connections.
  24. Independent Living Program: Definition: A program that provides resources and support for older youth in foster care as they transition to independent living.
  25. Kinship Care: Definition: Placement of a child with relatives or close family friends when they cannot remain with their parents.
  26. Legal Risk Placement: Definition: A foster care placement where the goal is reunification, but there is a legal risk that the child may be freed for adoption if reunification efforts are unsuccessful.
  27. Medical Passport: Definition: A comprehensive record of a child’s medical history and health information, often maintained for children in foster care.
  28. Permanency Planning: Definition: The process of finding a stable and permanent living situation for a child, either through reunification with parents, adoption, or other permanent arrangements.
  29. Post-Adoption Services: Definition: Support services provided to adoptive families after the adoption is finalized, assisting with any challenges that may arise.
  30. Reunification: Definition: The process of bringing a child who has been in foster care back into the care of their biological parents.
  31. Residential Treatment Center (RTC): Definition: A facility providing intensive therapeutic services for children and youth with emotional and behavioral challenges.
  32. Respite Care: Definition: Temporary care provided to children in foster care to give their regular caregivers a break.
  33. Resource Family: Definition: A term used to describe foster, adoptive, or kinship families providing care to children involved in the child welfare system.
  34. Sibling Visitation Plan: Definition: A plan outlining how and when siblings separated in foster care will have the opportunity to visit and maintain connections.
  35. Subsidized Guardianship: Definition: Financial assistance provided to guardians who take on the permanent care of a child in foster care without adopting.
  36. Termination of Parental Rights (TPR): Definition: Legal process that permanently ends the legal parent-child relationship, typically leading to adoption.
  37. Trauma-Informed Care: Definition: An approach that recognizes and responds to the impact of trauma on individuals, emphasizing safety, trustworthiness, and collaboration.
  38. Transition Plan: Definition: A structured plan outlining the steps and support for a youth transitioning out of foster care to independence.
  39. Voluntary Placement Agreement (VPA): Definition: An agreement between parents and child welfare authorities allowing the temporary placement of a child in foster care without court intervention.

Understanding these terms empowers you to navigate the child welfare system effectively. If you have further questions or need support, don’t hesitate to reach out.