Glossary of Terms
Actual or threatened non-accidental physical or mental harm; negligent treatment; sexual exploitation; or any sexual abuse. The Division of Child and Family Services has defined the following categories of abuse:
- child endangerment,
- domestic violence related child abuse,
- emotional maltreatment,
- material harmful to a child,
- physical abuse,
- fetal exposure to alcohol or other substances,
- fetal addiction to alcohol or other harmful substances,
- pediatric condition falsification,
- ritual abuse,
- sexual abuse,
- and sexual exploitation.
Assistance provided by DCFS to families that will adopt children in out-of-home care that are unable to return home due to safety issues. Post-adoption services provide supports to adoptive families with the goal of sustaining adoptive placements.
The AAG is an attorney who represents Child and Family Services.
Each child committed to Juvenile Justice Services (JJS) custody for secure care, observation and assessment, or community placement is assigned a JJS case manager. It is the case manager's responsibility to oversee the child's care, serve as a liaison with the family, make placement decisions, monitor the child's progress, participate in determining consequences for noncompliant behavior, and represent the Division in court.
A person employed by the Division of Child and Family Services to provide professional casework, case management, contract management, or direct services to a child and/or family involved with DCFS. The caseworker also coordinates with community partners that provide services to the child and/or family.
Information that is gathered by DCFS from various sources and used to determine the strengths, capabilities, needs, risks, and cultural aspects of the child and family. The information gathered forms a comprehensive view of the child and family and their support networks at home, at school, and in the community. The conclusions drawn in the assessment are the foundation for services outlined for the family in the Child and Family Plan.
A written document created by DCFS that outlines the agreed-upon strategies, supports, services, and other intervention activities offered to a child and/or family involved in DCFS services. If there is court jurisdiction over the child and/or family, the Child and Family Plan is considered a legal document and is incorporated in the court order for the family.
A multi-disciplinary team convened by DCFS to plan for the needs of the family and assist DCFS in making critical case decisions. The child, their family, the caseworker, and any out-of-home providers and kin included on the case are the primary members of a Child and Family Team. Other entities that may be included to provide additional support include representatives from education, health care, law enforcement, the Guardian Ad Litem, parent’s attorney, the Attorney General, DJJS, probation officers, and any other supportive individuals, professional and non-professional, as designated by the family.
Service provided through DCFS that conducts investigations to determine the validity of child abuse/neglect referrals received from the community or professionals. CPS cases may lead to other types of services being provided to the family by DCFS.
The process of receiving the initial information from a person (referent) who is alleging an act of abuse, neglect, or dependency against a child. The intake worker researches any additional information on the child and family that is available to DCFS, determines appropriate assignment and prioritization of a referral of abuse or neglect, and delivers an accepted referral for investigation to a CPS investigator.
Any individual other than the alleged perpetrator who has had direct contact with or knowledge of the child or the child's family.
Residential, community-based services for a delinquent child in JJS custody. These services are primarily operated by private providers through contracts with the State. Residential services range from proctor care to intensive residential group homes. Programs are designed to provide supervision and interventions based on the child’s risk factors (e.g., sex offenses, mental health, substance dependence, physically aggressive child, property offenders, and noncompliant child).
The process of planning for multiple permanency options for the child in the event that the primary permanency goal becomes unattainable.
CASA workers are specially trained community volunteers who help to represent the best interest of the child in court hearings. As Guardian Ad Litems (GAL) are required to be appointed for every child who has a case of abuse and/or neglect in Utah, they have an extremely high case volume and are sometimes unable to be as involved with the child as they feel they need to be in order to represent the child’s best interests in court. On these cases, the GAL will sometimes request that a CASA be appointed to meet and work with the child individually, in order to help the GAL and court to understand the child’s perspective and truly represent the child’s interests in court.
The Juvenile Court’s and JJS’s management information system.
Youth ages 10 to 18 who have committed an act that is a crime.
The condition of a child who is homeless or without proper care through no fault of the child's parent, guardian, or custodian. Dependency may be due to:
- A lack of understanding by the child's parent or guardian as a result of a lack of education or due to a mental, emotional, or physical disability.
- A parent or guardian's lack of economic resources.
- The institutionalization of a parent or guardian who has not or cannot arrange for safe care for the child.
JJS programs providing temporary, locked confinement to a child awaiting adjudication or placement and for a child ordered to detention as a sentence or for contempt of court. Children may also be placed in detention if they pose an immediate danger to themselves or others.
Conduct involving violence or physical harm, or the threat of violence or physical harm, or any attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit a criminal offense involving violence or physical harm, when committed by one cohabitant against another. Domestic violence can take a variety of forms, including physical violence, psychological violence, or sexual violence.
A violent interaction (physical or verbal) that occurs in the presence of a child between individuals living in the same home.
Support services, provided by DCFS, which are offered to victims and families affected by DV. DV services provided by DCFS include services to victims through a licensed domestic violence shelter provider.
Programs for youth to prevent them from further involvement with the Juvenile Justice System.
Provides financial resources for post-secondary education and vocational training for youth transitioning from DCFS custody.
Failure or refusal by a parent to ensure that a child receives an appropriate education.
A representative appointed by (but not employed by) the school district/charter school, who has been trained regarding special education requirements and student needs and who serves as a parent in special education activities such as IEP development, placement review and consent, and evaluation, when there is no biological parent or foster parent involved. For example, an educational surrogate parent may be assigned when a child is in a residential treatment center or shelter facility.
Assures parents access to their student’s educational records and protects rights to privacy by limiting the access of educational records without parent consent.
An out-of-home caregiver who is licensed by the State of Utah to provide care for a child who has been removed from their home. They are responsible for the daily care of the child as well as the child’s health and well-being. A foster parent may be a relative who has become a licensed foster parent for a specific child, or a person from the community who has gone through the required training and other processes necessary to become a foster parent. A foster parent, however, is not authorized to act as a legal custodian or guardian of a child. That responsibility lies with the Division of Child and Family Services, as it is the agency granted custody and/or guardianship by the court.
Special education and related services that are provided at public expense in accordance with an IEP.
A Utah statute that allows members of the public to obtain copies of certain government records. If a person submits a written request for a JJS or Child and Family Services record, GRAMA requires JJS or Child and Family Services to disclose the record unless disclosure is prohibited by the provisions of GRAMA itself or by another state or federal statute. Many of JJS and Child and Family Services’ records are not open to the public due to their classification under GRAMA or other statutes.
Utah State law requires that each child who may become the subject of a petition alleging abuse, neglect, or dependency shall have a Guardian ad Litem appointed to represent the best interest of the child during juvenile court hearings. GALs sometimes use Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA worker) to meet with the child if they are unable to themselves. GALs are appointed to represent children on abuse and neglect cases, but not usually on delinquency cases.
Provides a permanent living arrangement for the child. The guardian (caregiver or responsible adult) has the authority to consent to the child's marriage; enlistment in the armed forces; major medical, surgical, or psychiatric treatment; and to legal custody, if legal custody is not vested in another person, agency, or institution.
A federal law that sets minimum standards for state courts to follow in Indian child custody proceedings. It is designed to strengthen and preserve Native American families.
Federally required services that DCFS must provide for children in foster care with Native American heritage who are eligible for tribal membership.
A program designed to meet the unique educational needs of one child. The IEP must be tailored to the individual student's needs as identified by the evaluation process and must help teachers and related service providers understand the student's disability and how the disability affects the learning process. In other words, the IEP should describe how the student learns, how the student best demonstrates that learning, and what teachers and service providers will do to help the student learn more effectively.
The required individuals for the IEP team are the regular education teacher, special educator, principal or Local Education Agency (LEA) designee, parent or guardian of the student, and a person who can interpret the instructional implications of evaluation results if not one of the above mentioned team members (a school psychologist, in many cases). Related service individuals may also attend (e.g., speech therapist, interpreter, caseworkers, or classroom aide if they are implementing portions of the IEP). The parent can ask friends, family etc. to attend. The IEP team can be convened each year at the request of any member of the IEP team. A caseworker who is the legal guardian of the student may not sign as the parent on an IEP, but can and should sign the IEP.
INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES EDUCATION ACT (IDEA): Requires that a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) be provided to eligible students with disabilities. Students are determined to be eligible under IDEA if a school team, including the parent, determines that they have a disability that adversely affects their educational performance (i.e., academic, communication, social/behavioral) and requires special education and related services.
Services provided by DCFS to a family to maintain a child safely in their own home and keep the family together.
A division of the Department of Human Services that provides a continuum of intervention, supervision, and rehabilitation programs to youth offenders while assuring public safety.
The full-time care of a child provided by a relative when a court determines the child cannot be cared for safely by their parents. The kinship caregiver must have one of the following relationships to the child in order to qualify as a kinship caregiver: a grandparent, great grandparent, aunt, great aunt, uncle, great uncle, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, stepparent, first cousin, step sibling, or sibling of the child.
A public school district or charter school.
To the maximum extent appropriate, youth in custody shall not be placed in restrictive or non-mainstream programs simply because of their custodial status, their past behavior, or the inappropriate behavior of other students.
To the maximum extent appropriate, students with disabilities are educated with students who are not disabled. Removal of the student with disabilities from the regular education environment occurs only if the nature or severity of the disability is such that an education in regular classes with supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.
Legal authority given to an individual or agency that embodies the following rights and duties: the right to physical custody of the child; the right and duty to protect, train, and discipline the child; the duty to provide the child with food, clothing, shelter, education, and ordinary medical care; the right to determine where and with whom the child shall live; the right, in an emergency, to authorize surgery or extraordinary care.
McKinney-Vento is the primary piece of federal legislation dealing with the education of children experiencing homelessness in U.S. public schools. The federal law is designed to address the problems that homeless children face in enrolling, attending, and succeeding in school. Children who are awaiting foster care placement are considered homeless and eligible for McKinney-Vento services. Under McKinney-Vento, schools must comply with the following provisions:
1) Homeless student may not be segregated in a school or in a separate program within a school, based on the child’s status as homeless.
2) Local educational agencies will provide transportation to and from the school of origin at the request of the parent or guardian (or in the case of the unaccompanied child, the liaison).
3) A homeless child may be enrolled immediately in school, even if the child is unable to produce the records normally required for enrollment.
4) School placement decisions must be made on the basis of the best interest of the child including keeping the child in their school of origin.
5) Every school must designate a local liaison for homeless children.
Failure or refusal of a parent, guardian, or custodian to provide care necessary for the child's health, safety, or well-being, such as educational neglect, medical neglect, physical neglect, failure to thrive, failure to protect, chronic neglect, or severe neglect.
A 45-day residential program for youth ordered by the Juvenile Court Judge for evaluation, assessment and treatment planning. At the conclusion of the evaluation, a formal report is presented to the court for the judge to consider prior to making a final decision.
Out-of-home services, sometimes known as “foster care” services, are provided to children and families through DCFS when children are unable to remain safely in their home. When out-of-home services are provided, custody of the child has been either court ordered to DCFS or voluntarily provided by the legal parent and/or guardian.
A permanent safe and nurturing home for a child with enduring relationships that provide a sense of family stability and belonging. The establishment and maintenance of a permanent living situation for a child, which gives the child an internal sense of family stability and belonging, as well as a sense of self that connects the child to his or her past, present, and future. Permanency can be achieved in a number of ways based on the child’s circumstances. For example:
(1) keeping or returning the child to the home of the parent/guardian.
(2) placing the child with a relative or non-relative and supporting legal permanent custody or guardianship with that caregiver.
(3) supporting a successful transition to adult living.
(4) or adoption with an appropriate caregiver.
A child’s living arrangement while in out-of-home care, which is selected to meet the child’s needs. (For students with disabilities receiving special education services, please see Special Education Placement.)
Rights for parents, or persons acting as parents, of students with disabilities that includes to examine records, participate in meetings, obtain an independent education evaluation, and receive written prior notice of actions proposed or refused by the LEA regarding special education. To view complete Procedural Safeguards, please visit http://www.schools.utah.gov/sars/lawsregs/safeguards.htm.
Taking a child into custody for protection by a Child and Family Services CPS worker, law enforcement officer, or physician. Protective custody begins from the time the decision is made, typically from when the child is removed from the home, and continues until the shelter hearing or until the child returns home, whichever occurs earlier.
Those rights and duties remaining with the parent after legal custody or guardianship, or both, have been awarded to another person or agency. Residual parental rights and duties include the right to consent to adoption, to determine the child’s religious affiliation, and to reasonable visitation unless restricted by the court. If the parent retains guardianship of the child, "residual parental rights and duties" also include the right to consent to marriage, to enlistment in the armed forces, and to major medical surgical or psychiatric treatment.
Services provided by DCFS to reunite the child and family. Reunification services may not extend beyond 12 months (or eight months if a child is under 36 months of age), from the date that the child was initially removed from the home.
Division of Child and Family Services’ management information system.
Protects qualified individuals with disabilities. Under this law, individuals with disabilities are defined as persons with a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities
Long-term, locked confinement for youth adjudicated by the Juvenile Court typically reserved for the most serious and habitual juvenile offenders.
A self-contained classroom is one in which the students share similar academic requirements. For example, all the gifted children in a school or school district will be contained in the same classroom. Sometimes all the students are the same grade level, but other times, particularly when there are a limited number of students, the classroom may contain students spanning more than one grade level. This definition is not descriptive of a “self-contained” special education placement.
Temporary placement of a child by Child and Family Services in a licensed facility from the time the child is removed from the home until the court makes an order regarding custody of the child.
A finding made by DCFS based on the information obtained during an investigation. When there is sufficient information to conclude the allegation of abuse, neglect, or dependency occurred, a “supported” finding is made by the investigator. An “unsupported” finding is made when there is insufficient information to conclude that abuse, neglect, or dependency occurred. A finding of unsupported also means that the worker was unable to make a positive determination that the allegation was without merit.
Specially designed instruction, at no cost to the parents, to meet the unique needs of student with a disability. The specially designed instruction includes adapting the content, methodology, or delivery of instruction.
The educational placement of a student with a disability made by an IEP team, considering the student’s IEP, all evaluation data and least restrictive environment (LRE) options.
An act that would not be considered an offense if committed by an adult. Such offenses include sexual behavior, alcohol consumption, running away, and truancy.
When all legal rights a parent has to a child are terminated by a court order.
Some children in care require therapy with a licensed mental health provider. Not all children in care will have a therapist, but all children will have annual mental health assessments in order to determine if any treatment is necessary.
Services provided by DCFS to youth, ages 14 and older, that teaches skills needed for successful adult life.
A formal agreement in which a legal guardian or custodian grants custody of a child to Child and Family Services for placement in a licensed home or facility for a limited period of time.
Voluntary consent by a parent to termination of their parental rights. A relinquishment must be signed and affirmed before a judge or an officer authorized to accept relinquishments. Only the Juvenile Court is authorized to take relinquishments with regard to a child under court jurisdiction.