About Child Welfare Terms Development

In the interest of better serving the needs of Spanish-speaking families and professionals who work with them, Child Welfare Information Gateway developed this glossary to ensure consistency and cultural relevance in our publications. By making this document available to others, we hope to support other organizations that are also striving to improve their communications and to promote, where possible, consistency throughout the child welfare field.

How were the terms developed?

We consulted with numerous professional translators and bilingual child welfare professionals in developing this resource. These professionals represented both national and community-based organizations in many different States, and came from at least six countries of origin. We also referred to bilingual glossaries compiled by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the New York Council on Adoptable Children.

How are the terms organized?

Wherever possible, the glossary offers a primary term along with several acceptable options. The options are intended to provide flexibility and allow for regional and personal preferences. In selecting terms, we have made every attempt to apply cultural context. In some instances, direct translation of English terms did not work. In those cases, we worked with our partners to create new language that more explicitly described the intent.

Consistent with priorities set forth by the Children's Bureau, we made a special effort to select or create new language that was family-positive and strength-based. From focus groups with Spanish-speaking families and providers, we learned that certain terminology that seems value-neutral in English may have a negative connotation for Hispanic parents. For example, the term "independent living," in Spanish, gave some parents the impression we were encouraging their children to abandon their families. We therefore translated the term as "services for an independent life."

How may I help?

This glossary is a work in progress, and we welcome your feedback, comments, or additions via phone at 1.800.394.3366 or email at info@childwelfare.gov. We also invite you to visit our website in Spanish for a complete listing of Spanish-language publications available through the Child Welfare Information Gateway Library.