Adoption: Taking in as your own child a child that was not born to you. Adopted children’s biological parents no longer have any rights to them whatsoever. Adoption is a legal state in which the adopted child has all the same rights as your biological children and, in the eyes of the government, you are their only parent.
Foster Care: Children in foster care are taken out of their biological parents care temporarily because of abuse or neglect. The first goal of foster care is always to return children to their biological parents, and only occasionally when that can not happen (because of serious abuse or neglect) the child becomes available for adoption. Children in foster care are NOT in care because of their own actions, but rather because they have been victimized in some way by their parents.
Respite: When a foster child’s family (or foster family) needs a short break, a child will go into a respite placement. Respites last no more than two weeks, and the child returns home afterwards.
Kinship Placement: When a child is not safe with their biological parents, sometimes they may be placed with extended family members such as grown siblings, aunts/uncles, or grandparents. This is called a kinship placement.
Residential Placement: When a child requires a higher level of care than a family setting can provide, the child is put into a residential placement. These placements are highly structured and designed to be therapuetic for extremely high-needs children. Children that are violent towards others, cruel to animals, or extremely mentally disabled are commonly put into residential placements.
PRTF: “Psychiatric Residental Treatment Facility”. This is a kind of residential that is a sort of middle ground between an acute, short term hospital stay and a true residential placement. PRTF stays tend to last between 1-4 months, and are more structured and therapuetic than a home environment, but not quite as restrictive as a true residential.
TPR: Termination of Parental Rights. The removal of all of a biological parent’s rights to a child. When both biological parents’ rights are terminated, the child usually becomes free for adoption.
Legally Free: Also known as “up for adoption” or “free for adoption”, children are legally free for adoption when their biological parents’ rights have been terminated.
OPPLA: Other Permanent Planned Living Arrangement. When a child is older, (usually 15 and up) and their parents’ rights have been terminated but they cannot be adopted, they are put into OPPLA. Also known as independent living, the goal of OPPLA is to prepare the child to live on their own without the support of a parent. This usually occurs when the child has stated they do not want to be adopted.
Referral: A referral sheet is given to each foster or adoptive family before a child is placed with them. Referral sheets give basic information about the age, habits, and hobbies of a child as well as detailing their medical and psychiatric needs.
Redbook: A red book is a large binder that goes with a foster child to each placement. It contains all of the child’s important documents, such as their birth certificate, medication and medical information, case plan, and court documents.
Case Plan: The court-ordered plan for identifying and meeting a foster child’s needs. Every child in foster care has a case plan, and the case plan is updated regularly. Case plans usually detail what needs to be done for a child to return home or, if returning home is not possible, what needs to be done to find an adoptive home for the child.
Case manager: The social worker assigned to a child when the child comes into foster care. This worker is responsible for finding a foster or adoptive placement for the child, making sure the child’s needs are met, and updating the court on how the case is progressing.
ICPC: Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children. An ICPC is done when a foster child is placed in any state other than the one their case is out of. For example, if a child from CA is placed in KS, an ICPC will be done before the child is placed.
Home Study: A comprehensive report done on a prospective adoptive family, usually before a child is placed with them. The home study covers everything from health and finances to parenting techniques, and it’s goal is to make sure a prospective family is suitable to parent a child.