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Terms and Definitions

Abuse – The physical, mental, or sexual injury of a child by a person, who may be any household or family member, who is responsible for the child’s care or supervision, as well as any indications that a child’s health or welfare is harmed or threatened.

Access – The ability to obtain the services that you need.

Adoption – A legal process in which a person related or unrelated to a child becomes the adoptive family for that child and he/she is given all of the legal rights and privileges as if he/she were born to that family. The child’s birth parents no longer have any legal responsibilities or rights after an adoption.

Adoptive Parents/Family – Persons who did not give birth to a child, but selected that child to be a member of their family. After a legal adoption, adoptive parents have all of the legal rights of natural parents.

Aftercare – These are services provided when a child leaves foster care. The first type of aftercare is a service given to a child, his/her parent(s), or his/her relatives when he/she goes to live with them. The second type of aftercare is a service given directly to a child when he/she is between the ages of 18 and 21 to help him/her live independently.

Agency – A public or private organization providing a service.

Advocate – A person who acts or who speaks on behalf of another person to get things done for that person.

Another Planned Permanency Living Arrangement (APPLA) – A future plan in which a child is connected with a person(s) and a relationship is established, nurtured, and maintained so that he/she will have support upon leaving foster care.

Anxiety – A feeling of being fearful, worried or nervous. This may interfere with playing, learning, and a sense of well-being.

Assessment (also called evaluation) – The process of obtaining information from tests and observations.

Attorney (lawyer) – A person who will represent legal desires and interests while a child is in foster care.

Biological or Birth Parents – The two people who gave birth to a child.

Chafee (John H.) Foster Care Independence Act of 1999 – A federal law from the United States Congress that requires States to provide services and money to help youth in foster care become self-sufficient.

Child Protective Services (CPS) – A child welfare program responsible for investigating reports of child abuse and neglect as well as providing services to families in crisis. It is usually the first service that a child and family receive to prevent the child’s removal from the home and placement in foster care.

Concurrent Permanency Plans – Two future plans that detail where and with whom a child will live upon leaving foster care and the legal relationship between the child and the future caregiver(s). The child, his/her family, and his/her caseworker will work on these plans to see which is most viable and immediate.

Commitment – The process through which the local department of social services obtains the legal responsibility for foster care and placement.

Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) – A trained volunteer appointed by the court to ensure the safety of children in foster care and that they receive the services they need.

Custody – A legal term describing the legal right/responsibility of either a person or an agency to make decisions about where a child should live.

Depression – Sad or lonely feelings that are sometimes caused by a certain event or hormones in the body. It may interfere with a person’s daily functions.

Early Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment Program (EPSDT) – A State medical program that requires that a child receive health care services that include full medical, dental exams, immunizations (shots), and laboratory work.

Eligibility – The determination that a child does or does not qualify to receive services based on certain rules.

Emergency Foster Care – Immediate placement in foster care because of a crisis related to a child or his/her family.

Foster Child – A child up to age 18 or 21 placed in the care of a local department of social services by either a voluntary placement agreement with the birth family, adoptive family, legal guardian, or by a court commitment order.

Foster Care – A short-term service consisting of placing a child in a foster family home, group facility, or semi-independent living arrangement.

Foster Care Placement – An approved family home, a group home setting, or a residential treatment facility where a child will reside 24 hours a day and receive care, nurturing, and support.

Foster Parent – A relative or non-relative adult who is approved by the local department of social services to protect, nurture, educate, and care for a child.

GED (General Education Development) – A series of reading and math schoolwork, upon completion of which a diploma is conferred.

Individual Education Program (IEP)and Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) – Educational Services Plans that are developed by the school to provide needed special education services.

Judge or Master – The head of the court who is responsible for listening to a child and others involved in his/her life. The judge or Master makes decisions about what will happen to the child.

Local Department of Social Services (LDSS) – Provides services such as foster care, medical assistance, food stamps, and financial assistance when people are in crisis.

Managed Care Organization (MCO) – A health care company that is selected to provide health care services to a child.

Maryland Department of Human Resources (DHR) – A state agency that oversees an agency for the local department of social services.

Medicaid – A joint federal and state health program that pays for health care services.

Mental Health Service – Services provided to assist individuals in identifying and resolving issues that impact one’s thoughts and behaviors. The main goal is to make self-improvements and learn ways to cope with an individual’s concerns.

Mentor – An individual who listens, supports, and encourages another individual. A mentor serves as a role model and helps a child get through difficult times.

Neglect – Not providing food clothing, shelter, health care, or education to a child.

Out-of-Home Placement – Short-term care that consists of 24-hour care and supervision as well as supportive services for a child whom the local department of social services has determined needs to live outside the home because the child has been abused, abandoned, neglected, or because his/her family is unable to provide care.

Permanency Plan Hearing – A court hearing for all children in foster care that must occur within 11 months of coming into foster care and every 6 months after that until a child leaves foster care.

Reunification – When a foster child returns to his/her birth parents or relatives.

Residential Placement – A private or public group type facility that provides 24-hour care for a child with medical or emotional needs.

Semi – Independent Living Arrangement (SILA) – A placement in an apartment, room or college campus for a child to practice living independently.

Service Agreement – A plan signed by two or more people that details what each person must do to get to a specific goal.

Shelter Care Order – This gives the local department of social services the right to remove a child from his/her home and place him/her in foster care.

Termination of Parental Rights (TPR) – When a judge signs an order that permanently ends the ties between a child and his/her parents.

Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) – Temporary funds to assist families that are in crisis and need financial help.

Treatment Foster Care (TFC) – A program in which foster parents are trained to provide care for children with disabilities or serious health care needs that require special services. Youth in treatment foster care have an extra caseworker (a TFC caseworker) that sees them once a week and helps them through crises.

Transition – The process of moving from one living arrangement to another.

Voluntary Placement – When a child’s parent or guardian places him/her temporarily in foster care by signing a voluntary placement agreement with the local department of social services instead of going to court. Voluntary placement provides care for a child when his/her parents are unable to do so. If a child is in foster care voluntarily for more than six months, the court will hold a hearing to decide whether or not he/she should remain in foster care.