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.
Children in the public child welfare system who cannot return to their birth homes and need permanent, loving families to help them grow up safely and securely. Preferred term is "child who waits for a family."
Various efforts to change the way social welfare programs are administered, funded, and used. A significant reform effort, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (P.L.104-193), replaced the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program with the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program (TANF). (See TANF)
When the educational, emotional, physical, and mental health needs of children and their families are being met. (Children’s Bureau)
An active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, improving their emotional, occupational, physical, social, intellectual, and spiritual factors and well-being. (Adapted from the National Wellness Institute.)
Those individuals who are employed in a given organization or industry. The child welfare workforce includes those employed in either the public or private sector to provide professional services to children and families who are engaged in child abuse prevention programs, child protective services, out-of-home care, adoption, or otherwise served by the child welfare system. While there is a diversity of skills and services provided by these professionals, the purpose of their work is focused on promoting the safety, permanency, and well-being of children, youth, and families.
The amount of work required to successfully manage a case and bring it to resolution. It is based on the responsibilities assigned to complete a specific task or set of tasks for which the caseworker is responsible.
An arrangement of individualized, coordinated, family-driven care to meet complex needs of children and families who are involved with several child- and family-serving systems (such as mental health, child welfare, juvenile justice, and special education). Wraparound services aim to emphasize the strengths of the child and family and to deliver coordinated, unconditional services to achieve positive outcomes.
Lawsuits brought against agencies for intentionally misrepresenting, deliberately concealing, or negligently disclosing a child's background information to adoptive parents.