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The ABC's of Foster Care: Commonly Used Acronyms


Written by: Corinne Rivers


There are hundreds of acronyms within the foster care system that a prospective foster or adoptive parent might hear. It can be overwhelming to decide what’s important to remember when getting involved in a child’s care. That’s why we’ve put together a list of some of the most important terms to know within the foster care system:

BH: Behavioral Health

Behavioral Health is an important part in maintaining overall health. Necco’s Behavioral Health department offers counseling and other services to children, young adults and their family members.

CASA: Court Appointed Special Advocate

Court Appointed Special Advocates are community volunteers (like you!) who stand up and speak out to help children who have been abused and neglected.

CPS: Child Protective Services

Child Protective Services is a social service branch that investigates reports of abuse and neglect of children.

CP: Children in Placement

Children in Placement refers to all children currently living in a particular foster home.

CW/SW: Case Worker/Social Worker Case workers, also referred to as Social Workers, are the main point of contact for a foster family. CWs are responsible for placing children in homes and ensuring their needs are met.

Learn more about case management


Each state has its own branch of government agency that oversees the foster care system and investigates reports of abuse and neglect of children. Necco’s foster care services the states of Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia.

  • DCFS: Division of Family & Children Services serves the state of Georgia

  • DCS: Department of Child Services serves the state of Indiana

  • DCBS: Department of Community Based Services serves the state of Kentucky

  • ODJFS: Ohio Department of Job and Family Services serves the state of Ohio

  • DHHR: Department of Health & Human Resources serves the state of West Virginia

DSS: Department of Social Services

The Department of Social Services is a state agency that oversees social programs including foster care.

EHR: Electronic Health Record

An electronic health record, also referred to as an electronic health record (EHR), houses all a patient’s health information. EHRs are critical to providing the best care to a child or family member.

EY: Emancipated Youth

An emancipated youth, or emancipated minor, is a legal term for a child who has been freed from parental control before the assumed age (usually 18).

FAP: Foster Care and Adoption Program

A Foster Care and Adoption Program is a state program that trains licenses foster parents and placing agencies.

FBA: Family Based Assessment

A Family Based Assessment is an evaluation of a potential family’s home and lifestyle to ensure it is suitable for fostering.

GAL: Guardian ad litem

Guardian ad litem is a lawyer appointed by the court to advocate for the best interests of a child.

HIPAA: Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, passed in 1996, is a federal law protecting confidentiality and security of healthcare information. HIPAA constitutes that sensitive health information cannot be disclosed without a patient’s knowledge or consent.

ICPC: Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children

The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children is a federal law that regulates placements of foster care or adoptive children from one state to another. The law is used to ensure the protection of children during interstate placements.

IEP: Individualized Education Program

An Individualized Education Program is a specialized plan for any child who needs special education. An IEP allows parents, teachers and administration to work together for the child's needs.

IL: Independent Living

Independent Living refers to children who have aged out of foster care and are living on their own. Necco’s Independent Living program helps former foster children learn the critical skills needed for their future.

ITP: Initial Treatment Plan

An Initial Treatment Plan is a preliminary plan based on an early assessment of the child’s therapeutic needs. The ITP will be used until a more permanent plan can be put in place.

JFS: Job and Family Services

Job and Family Services oversees public assistance programs such as childcare and child support, protective services and adoption.

MDT: Multidisciplinary Team

A Multidisciplinary Team includes any professional that is involved in a specific child’s case. MDTs can span several different disciplines such as therapists, teachers, case workers, lawyers, etc. that coordinate efforts to prepare the best childcare.

PRIDE: Parent Resources for Information, Development, and Education

PRIDE is a training program designed for foster, adoptive and kinship parents to support them in their journey of supporting a child/children.

SACWIS: Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System

Similar to AFCARS, the Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System is a computer catalog that tracks children in the foster care system.

THP: Trial home placement

A trial home placement is the “tryout” of a child moving back home. Many agencies stay involved with the birth family for three months after the child goes back home.

TPR: Termination of Parental Rights

The Termination of Parental Rights is a legal action when a parent’s rights to their child are terminated by court order. This is usually done after several unsuccessful attempts at reunification.

To find other terms that are beneficial to know when starting your foster journey, visit our Foster Care page.