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.
A strengths-based approach to working with youth that focuses on preparing them to meet the challenges of adolescence and adulthood through a coordinated, progressive series of activities and experiences that help them to become socially, morally, emotionally, physically, and cognitively competent.
A component of family-centered practice that centers on recognizing youth as experts in determining what is best for themselves and engaging youth in the development of policy, program, and service design and in decision-making, implementation, and evaluation.
The ability of youth to guide or direct others on a course of action, influence the opinion and behavior of others, and show the way by going in advance. It also includes the ability to analyze one's own strengths and weaknesses, set personal and vocational goals and have the self-esteem to carry them out, and establish support networks to participate in community life and effect positive social change. (Adapted from National Alliance for Secondary Education and Transition.)
The opportunity for a continuous, lifetime relationship with a nurturing parent, caregiver, or other adult. Includes unconditional commitment by a caring adult, lifelong support, involvement of the youth as a participant, a legal arrangement, where possible, and the opportunity to maintain contacts with important people, including birth family members and siblings.