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.
In all business and organizational activities, management is the act of coordinating the efforts of people to accomplish desired goals and objectives using available resources efficiently and effectively. Management composes planning, organizing, staffing, leading or directing, and controlling an organization (a group of one or more people or entities) or effort for the purpose of accomplishing a goal.
Groups of professionals who are required by State statutes to report suspected child abuse and neglect to the proper authorities (usually Child Protective Services or law enforcement agencies). Mandated reporters typically include educators and other school personnel, health care and mental health professionals, social workers, child care providers, and law enforcement.
In the case of domestic infant adoption or placement of children from foster care, matching is the task of reviewing the assessments of prospective families along with those of available children to determine the best family to provide safety, permanency, and well-being for a specific child or sibling group.
A residence for pregnant woman (adults or adolescents) who are in the process of making an adoption plan for their unborn child. Pregnant young woman in foster care can be placed in a maternity home setting if the home is licensed to provide group home care.
A nonadversarial, voluntary process that allows the parties involved to agree on a permanency decision in the best interests of the child with the help of a trained, neutral, third party. Mediation generally avoids adversarial court hearings. Parties are more invested in the outcome because they participated in decision-making. Parties to mediation may include birth parents, foster/adoptive parents, relatives, the child, the agency worker, attorneys, and others. Mediations can be court-based or may take place at other, more neutral locations.
Failure to provide or to allow needed care as recommended by a competent health care professional for a physical injury, illness, medical condition, or impairment, and/or the failure to seek timely and appropriate medical care for a serious health problem that any reasonable person would have recognized as needing professional medical attention.
Significantly below average intellectual functioning and potential, with onset before age 18, resulting in limitations in communication, self-care, self-direction, social and interpersonal skills, work, leisure, health, and safety. Retardation is the result of genetic, pregnancy, or prenatal problems or family or environmental factors such as social deprivation.
Enhancing organizational culture and workforce retention through peer support. In many jurisdictions, new child welfare staff are now assigned mentors during their designated training period. Mentors are typically seasoned colleagues who can assist new caseworkers with specific knowledge development about their job, organization, and/or the community.
MEPA (See Multiethnic Placement Act of 1994.)
A quantitative, formal, epidemiological study design used to assess previous research studies systematically to derive conclusions about that body of research. (US National Library of Medicine)
A highly addictive stimulant associated with serious health and psychiatric conditions, including heart damage and brain damage, impaired thinking and memory problems, aggression, violence, and psychotic behavior. Methamphetamine is also associated with the transmission of infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis. (Adapted from the National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare)
The analysis of the principles of methods, rules, and postulates employed by a discipline; the systematic study of methods that are, can be, or have been applied within a discipline; or a procedure or set of procedures.
Any person who lives temporarily or permanently in a country where he or she was not born, and has acquired some significant social ties to this country. (Adapted from the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization)
In general, a court that seeks to improve outcomes for children and families involved in the child welfare system by adhering to the practices and procedures described in Resource Guidelines: Improving Court Practice in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases (National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges—NCJFCJ). More specifically, it refers to one of the Model Court sites supported by NCJFCJ's Child Victim's Act Model Courts Project. (See National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges—NCJFCJ)
The lasting psychological, spiritual and social harm caused by one’s own or another’s actions in a high stakes situation that transgress deeply held moral beliefs and expectations. (Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare)
The coexistence of diverse cultures, where culture includes racial, religious, or cultural groups and is manifested in customary behaviors, cultural assumptions and values, patterns of thinking, and communicative styles. (International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions)
A team established between agencies and professionals within the child protection system to discuss cases of child abuse and neglect and to aid in decisions at various stages of the child protective services' case process. These terms may also be designated by different names, including child protection teams, interdisciplinary teams, or case consultation teams.(See Child Protective Services: A guide for Caseworkers)
Multiethnic Placement Act of 1994 (MEPA) (See Major Federal Legislation Concerned With Child Protection, Child Welfare, and Adoption.)