Many child welfare terms are subject to interpretation. The Glossary identifies commonly held definitions for terms that can be found on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website or in products and materials developed by external entities (e.g., Federal or State Agencies or other reliable organizations). When noted, Information Gateway is cited as the source. The Glossary also provides common acronyms and includes links to information on major Federal legislation and related child welfare terms. The Glossary will be updated as new terminology emerges in the field, as new legislation is enacted, and as child welfare terms take on new meaning.
For additional information on glossary terms, please see our index Search A-Z.
GAL (See guardian ad litem.)
A continuing process of mourning through which one learns to live with loss. (See the National Center for Victims of Crime)
group care (See residential services.)
A residence intended to serve as an alternative to a family foster home. Homes normally house 4 to 12 children in a setting that offers the potential for the full use of community resources, including employment, health care, education, and recreational opportunities. Desired outcomes of group home programs include full incorporation of the child into the community, return of the child to his or her family or other permanent family, and/or acquisition by the child of the skills necessary for independent living.
guardian (See legal guardian.)
guardian ad litem (GAL)
A lawyer or layperson who represents a child in juvenile or family court. Usually this person considers the best interests of the child and may perform a variety of roles, including those of independent investigator, advocate, advisor, and guardian for the child. A layperson who serves in this role is sometimes known as a court-appointed special advocate (CASA). (See A Coordinated Response to Child Abuse and Neglect: The Foundation for Practice)
A judicially created relationship between a child and caretaker that is intended to be permanent and self-sustaining as evidenced by the transfer to the caretaker of the following parental rights with respect to the child: protection, education, care and control of the person, custody of the person, and decision-making. (Adapted from the Code of Federal Regulations)