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.
jurisdiction [of a court]
The legal authority of a court to hear and decide a certain type of case. It is also used as a synonym for venue, meaning the geographic area over which the court has territorial jurisdiction to decide cases. (Also see United States Courts.)
A court of law that has jurisdiction over cases involving children under a specific age, usually 18. Juvenile courts (sometimes referred to as family courts) generally preside over both delinquency and dependency proceedings. (See Juvenile Law Center)
A federal criminal violation committed prior to one's eighteenth birthday. (See Office of the United States Attorney)