A GLOSSARY OF FOSTER CARE TERMS
With thanks to the Foster Club Web site
Adjudication: A hearing to determine if a crime such as neglect or
child endangerment has been committed
Aging Out: A foster child who turns 18, or who graduates from high school after
turning 18, and is not adopted, leaves the system.
Appeals: A hearing
to change a court’s ruling
Arraignment: An individual enters a plea as to a charge against them—guilty
or not guilty
Biological parent: Birth Parent
CASA worker: COURT APPOINTED SPECIAL ADVOCATE a paralegal who assists the Guardian-ad Litem in maintaining contact with a child and may stand in for
the G.A.L. in court
Case worker: Employee
of a state or private agency who works with children and youth to achieve permanency for families
Case Assessment and Case plan: A plan that the Department of Human
Services, along with the youth and family, makes and updates every six months. It includes the services provided to the youth
and family, and makes clear the expectations and progress made toward reaching the goal of permanent placement of the youth.
DHS or DSS Abreviation for Department of Health Services or Department of Human Services, or Department os Social
Services often the over-seeing agency for foster care in a state.
Disposition: This is the decision about where the youth should live
(such as in state custody), as well as what the parents, DHS and the youth must do to change the problems. Please understand
that sometimes court hearings are continued and changed to another date for various reasons. For instance, someone may not
show up, or everyone at court may feel it’s a good idea.
Emancipation: A youth who is legally declared an adult (by a court)
prior to age 18. A youth in foster care who emanicipates is no longer a ward of the court (or in foster care). A child may
be offered a course of study prior to emancipation to assure his readiness to live as an adult
Foster Care: Care provided to youth when they are removed from their
biological family’s custody and are placed in state custody. Foster care includes placement with relatives, foster families,
group homes, shelters and other placements for children under the age of 21.
Foster Home: A home
licensed by an agency, after meeting certain requirements, to care for children
in foster care
Guardian ad Litem (GAL): An adult volunteer, usually an attorney,
assigned by the court to study and protect the best interests of a youth in a civil or criminal abuse or neglect case. The
GAL and the youth should talk on an ongoing basis. The GAL is your voice in the courtroom.
Guardianship: When an adult is granted parental rights for a youth.
ILP: Abbreviation for Independent Living
Independent Living: An approved type of living arrangement in which a child who is at least 16 years old resides
with a relative, friends, in a dorm or in his or her own apartment without the day-to-day supervision of an adult.
Independent Living Program (ILP): A federally funded program providing
services to foster youth age 14 or16 and over to prepare for adulthood. This program provides classes in life skills, vocational
training, and equipment needed for job training. Also provides funds for college scholarships, skills training, and rent assistance.
Independent Living Skills Case-worker: A Department of Human Services’
Caseworker who provides services to youth in state custody who are 16 and older, and whose treatment plan goal is independent
living. Services are to help youth learn to live on their own.
Individual Education Plan (IEP): A plan intended to improve success
for an individual student, which may include additional assistance, learning aids, tutoring, revised or classroom settings.
Produced by a team of people, including teachers, school administrators, counselors, parents or foster parents, and sometimes
the youth themselves.
Individual Service Plan (ISP): A written document describing long range goals and short range
objectives for the provision of service for a foster youth
Judicial Review: A court review that looks at the progress of the
parents and the youth in order to decide the safest place for the youth to live. There must be a Judicial Review within 18
months (soon to be 12 months) of the child entering custody and at least every 12 months after that
Kinship or Kinship Care: Those providing 24 hour care for children
they are related to by blood. This may also be called relative care.
Permanency Planning: The case-worker coordinates services for the
youth and family to fix the problems that led to the youth’s placement in state custody. The goal is to assure a long-term
placement for the youth. This may be going home, staying in long-term foster care until age 18 or 21, or being placed for
Respite Care: Temporary care for a youth in foster care, intended
to give either the youth or foster parent (or provider) a break.
Residential Service Plan (RSP): A plan describing
past behavior problems, with goals and reinforcement information to eliminate the unwanted behavior.
Services that can bring a family back together by working on the problems that caused the separation of the youth from the
Surrogate Parent: A person (usually a foster parent or care provider)
who is appointed by the Department of Education to make sure that a youth’s special education needs are being met.
Termination of Parental Rights (TPR): If family reunification has
been ruled out and adoption is a possibility for the child, the Department may petition (request) for termination of parents’
rights to the child. If the court terminates parental rights it means the child is free for adoption. It also means that your
biological parents have no legal rights pertaining to you anymore. (They don’t have access to information about you,
don’t work with your caseworker anymore, etc.)
AND SOME COURT TERMS:
Protective Orders: these can include:
Orders for a child to get emergency medical care...the child may be taken from the parent to receive such care
Temporary custody--placing the child in foster care and also possibly requiring certain corrective behaviors of the biological
Restraining orders and emergency protective orders--usually in cases of suspected sexual abuse--may be requested by Social
Services, law enforcement or other responsible parties
PETITION AND SUMMONS:
Petition is the document which describes the facts under which the child has been alledged to be dependent and neglected.
Summons is the document which orders the parents or guardians to court to answer the allegations