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Glossary of Terms

All individuals (usually counted as children or family units) for whom a social worker is responsible, as expressed in a ratio of clients to staff members.

Child Care Worker:
The term "child care worker" applies to an individual that works for a public or private agency or organization that works directly with children, provides supervision, and is responsible for helping to meet their daily care needs. The use of the term includes but is not limited to individuals that work in child day care.

Cultural Competence:
The ability of individuals and systems to respond respectfully and effectively to people of all cultures, classes, races, ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations, and faiths or religions in a manner that recognizes, affirms, and values the worth of individuals, families, tribes, and communities, and protects and preserves the dignity of each. Cultural competence is a vehicle used to broaden our knowledge and understanding of individuals and communities through a continuous process of learning about the cultural strengths of others and integrating their unique abilities and perspectives into our lives.

Child Protective Services or Child Protection Services. The designation for most public state or local agencies responsible for investigating reports of child abuse and neglect. The CPS response begins with the assessment of reports of child abuse and neglect. If it is determined that the child is at risk of or has been abused or neglected, then CPS should ensure that services and supports are provided to the child and his/her family by the public child protection agency and the community.

The 1994 Amendments to the Social Security Act (SSA) authorized the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to review State child and family service programs to ensure conformance with the requirements in Titles IV-B and IV-E of the SSA. Traditionally, reviews had focused primarily on assessing state agencies' compliance with procedural requirements rather than on the results of services and states' capacity to create positive outcomes for children and families. Years later, On January 25, 2000, DHHS published a final rule in the Federal Register to establish a new approach to monitoring state child welfare programs. Under the rule, which became effective March 25, 2000, states will be assessed for substantial conformity with certain federal requirements for child protective, foster care, adoption, family preservation and family support, and independent living services. The Children's Bureau, part of DHHS, is administering the review system. The goal of the reviews is to help states to improve child welfare services and achieve the following outcomes for families and children who receive services. These new reviews, CFSRs, mark the first time federal officials have tried to measure how well children are faring across the state systems created to protect them.

Family-Centered Practice:
A way of working with families, both formally and informally, across service systems to enhance the capacity of families to care for and protect their children. Family-centered practice recognizes the strengths of family relationships and builds on these strengths to achieve optimal outcomes for children and families. Family-centered services exist to employ the family-centered practice approach and meet a variety of family needs.

Foster Care:
Foster care is a planned, goal-directed service for children who cannot live with their birth families for some period of time. Children in foster care may live with unrelated foster parents, with relatives, with families who plan to adopt them, or in group homes or residential treatment centers. Foster care is designed primarily as a temporary service that responds to crises in the lives of children and families. The general expectation is that children who enter care either will return to their parents as soon as possible, or will be provided with safe, stable and loving families through placement with relatives or adoption. Some children, however, remain in foster care for extended periods of time. All children in foster care have a plan for permanency. This may be a return to their birth family, long-term guardianship, often with a relative, long-term foster care, or adoption. Many children in foster care are eventually adopted by their foster parents, but the vast majority return to their birth parents.

Kinship Care:
Kinship care is the full time care, nurturing, and protection of children by relatives, members of their tribes or clans, godparents, stepparents, or any adult who has a kinship bond with a child. This definition is designed to be inclusive and respectful of cultural values and ties of affection. It allows a child to grow to adulthood in a family environment. The child welfare system has recently experienced a major growth in the number of children in state custody who are living with their relatives. This shift has been so significant that its importance is fully national in scope.

Medicaid falls under Title XIX of the Social Security Act, and is the nation's major program for providing health and long-term care coverage to low-income people. Medicaid is a critical health care safety net for millions of low-income children. Medicaid provided health care to 40.4 million low-income people in 1998-20.7 million children, 8.6 million adults in families, 4.1 million elderly, and 7 million individuals who were blind or disabled. Ensuring the health of children and families involved in child welfare is of paramount importance! To do so, we must find solutions to address the shortcomings of our nations health care system. Health coverage for children and their families, through Medicaid, SCHIP, or private insurance, can prevent many children from ever needing the child welfare system. Children in the foster care system, like all children, need well-child care, immunizations, and treatment for acute illnesses. But they also require greater attention due to their high risk for health, mental health, and developmental problems. Medicaid is critical for their survival and well-being.

Out-of-Home Care:
Because children grow best in families, public and private child welfare agencies provide an array of services to allow children to remain in their own homes safely and to prevent out-of-home placement. However, if the threat of abuse and neglect makes it impossible for children to remain safely with their families, out-of-home care must be used. The most common types of out-of-home care are family foster care, kinship care, therapeutic (or treatment) foster care, and residential group care. The most serious problem affecting youth in care today is unmet health and mental health needs and access to adequate health services.

Permanency Planning:
Process through which planned and systematic efforts are made to ensure that children are in safe and nurturing family relationships expected to last a lifetime.

Positive Youth Development:
Positive Youth development is facilitated when youth have opportunities to feel physically and emotionally safe, when they have relationships with caring adults, acquire knowledge and information, and engage in activities that offer meaning, continuity, and variety. Positive youth development frameworks are helping to define developmentally appropriate youth-centered approaches that engage families, communities, and service providers in supporting youth. Programs that embrace a positive youth development approach foster caring relationships between young people and adults; ensure that young people feel safe; support young people in learning about the world; and provide opportunities for young people to be engaged in activities that are meaningful to them.

Residential Treatment/Residential Care:
Residential group care encompasses a broad array of services for children with pronounced special needs. Residential services are highly flexible and provide for varying lengths of stay, based on the client's needs. Length of stay may range from a short respite due to tense family situations, to long-term therapy for problems such as drug or alcohol addiction. Although long-term stays in family-like community-based group homes best serve some children's individual needs, residential group care is usually a temporary placement. Many children in residential care have emotional or physical conditions that require intensive, on-site therapy; others receive services from day treatment programs in their communities. Residential care programs are highly flexible and are designed to meet each child's individual needs. The most common reasons for residential care placement include abuse, neglect, behavioral acting out, status offenses, pregnancy, family crisis, and substance abuse. Placement may also be needed due to physical and/or mental disabilities; to attention deficit disorder (ADD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (AHDHD); or to mental illnesses such as depression, conduct disorder, anorexia nervosa, bulimia, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, and psychosis.

Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. TANF was created by the federal welfare reform legislation P.L 104-193, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA). It replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). States are required to use TANF funds to serve families with children, but the law does allow states broad flexibility in administering the TANF program. For example, each state is allowed to set its own income eligibility standards. The main requirement is that programs funded by TANF address one or all of the four purposes defined in the TANF law: providing assistance to needy families so that children may be cared for in their own homes or in the homes of relatives; ending dependence of needy parents on government benefits by promoting work and marriage; preventing and reduce out-of-wedlock-pregnancies; and encouraging the formation and maintenance of two-parent families. Although the overall effect of TANF on child maltreatment is not yet clear, TANF has become the major source of funding for child welfare services, especially kids in out-of-home care.

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