Glossary of Terms and Acronyms
There are many terms and acronyms that get used within the Foster Care system. Sometimes they can be confusing and unknown. Here is a list of some of the more commonly used terms...
CASA – Court Appointed Special Advocate
A volunteer representative appointed by a judge to speak on behalf of a child taken into foster care in court. Their job is to express in court what they feel is best for the child.
CA – Children’s Administration
The cluster of programs within the Department of Children, Youth & Families responsible for the provision of child welfare, child protective, foster care licensing and other services to children and their families
CPA - Child Placing Agency
A private agency licensed and contracted by the state to certify foster home. These agencies offer licensing services, case management, and placement.
CPS - Child Protective Services
Social workers who initially have contact with children entering the foster care system. CPS workers investigate the biological homes of children who have been suspected victims of child abuse and neglect.
CWS - Child Welfare Services
Social Workers who provide case work and management for long term care of children in foster care.
DCYF - Department of Children, Youth & Families
Formerly DSHS (Department of Social and Health Services in the state of Washington).
Dependency - A child becomes dependent upon the state when a judge declares sufficient findings or the biological parents/guardians voluntarily agree to place their child in state custody. This legal term refers to the status of a child in the foster care system.
DLR - Division of Licensed Resources
The division of children's administration responsible for licensing or certifying child care homes and facilities
Foster Care - 24 hour per day temporary care for a child that has been removed from his/her parents or guardians. Removal occurs when it is determined that the child is not in a safe environment – is experiencing either trauma or neglect.
Foster to Adopt - Although this used to be an official “track” for foster parents, currently in the state of Washington all foster care is entered into as a temporary solution (unless the child is already legally free). The priority of the state is reunification with biological parents. But occasionally either biological parents’ rights are terminated or are relinquished and then the child might become open to adoption.
FTDM - Family Team Decision Meeting
Meetings that occur when needed at local DCYF offices where all parties involved in a case (social workers, foster parents, biological parents, etc… meet together to solve any problems or discuss potential solutions. (Sometimes OMD volunteers provide childcare for these meetings)
Group Care - A twenty-four-hour facility licensed or certified under chapter 388-148 WAC. The facility provides the basic needs for food, shelter, and supervision. The facility also provides therapeutic services required for the successful reunification of children with the children's family resource or the achievement of an alternate less restrictive permanent living arrangement.
Guardianship - A permanency option that provides a child with long term connection to a family while maintaining financial support for the child. Often for older youth who may not want to be adopted for whatever reason.
Independent living services - The program services and activities established and implemented by the department to assist youth sixteen years or older in preparing to live on their own after leaving foster care.
Legally Free - The legal status that allows for a foster child to be adopted. IT means the biological parents have either relinquished their parental rights or a judge has terminated them.
RDS - Recruitment, Development and Support
Each office has an RDS meeting monthly. Representatives from DCYF, Fostering Together, and other agencies discuss recruiting and retention of foster and relative caregiver homes.
Relative Caregiver - The first priority for the Children Administration, if the child cannot return home to biological parents yet, is to be placed with a relative caregiver. Relative caregivers do not receive the same financial subsidies that licensed foster homes receive. They also don’t have to go through the extensive foster care licensing process, but can choose to do so.
Respite Care - Planned short-term care for your foster child that is provided by another foster parent or approved respite care provider. This care is designed to give the foster parent time away for care giving or to allow them to go on vacation, etc… To become respite provider of foster children in your own home requires going through the foster licensing process.
Shelter Care - The legal status of a child upon entering into foster care prior to a disposition hearing before the court.
TPR - Termination of Parent Rights
When a child cannot return home and adoption is a permanent plan for that child, parental rights must be terminated by a judge in order to proceed.
Visitation - The time scheduled for a visit between the foster child and their biological parents, guardians or siblings.