Child Welfare Terms Every Parent Needs to Know

Foster parents, biological parents, children, social work students, private providers, agency directors, social workers, counselors, and others all need access to the best tools and education possible. The health and human services system is tricky to navigate. That’s why we have created this resource, to educate!

Here at Caretivity, we believe that communication and collaboration should be available to anyone at any time. We fulfill that belief by not only making our mobile app free to download, but also by providing free resources that everyone can use—regardless of whether you download our app for your iOS/Android device.

We will be updating this page on a consistent basis, adding more child welfare terms and definitions that we believe can help our industry grow.

What are CASAs, GALs, and AALs?

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) and Guardian Ad Litems (GALs) are appointed by judges to represent children’s best interests in child cases involving the child welfare system since children can’t represent themselves. CASAs are trained volunteers; GALs may be attorneys or trained volunteers.

When a child welfare agency files information with the court to consider how the agency should be involved with your family and child(ren), the court must appoint an Attorney Ad Litem (AAL) and a GAL to represent the interests of the child. In many jurisdictions, a CASA is assigned to serve as the GAL. Whether it is a GAL or CASA, their role in the case is to gather as much information as possible from everyone, then share their recommendation with the court regarding what they believe is in the best interest of the child(ren).

childwelfare.gov

What are some tips for working with CASAs, GALs, and AALs?

CASAs and GALs can be different from one to another, so it’s important to realize that the level of participation you get from them may be different as well.

GALs do not always have the time they wish they had to get to know a family on a personal level. Still, their job is to give the court their opinion based on whatever information and conversation they can collect in a very short amount of time. It is important to make a good first impression with the CASA or GAL, even if, as a parent, you are still trying to figure out why all these people you barely know are now involved with you, your family, and your case.

A GAL’s job is to find out what is in the children’s best interests—not yours, the agency’s, or the other parent/guardian’s.

dss.virginia.gov

How can Caretivity help?

With so many new people being assigned to your case, it is important that, as a parent, you can communicate and make sure your voice is heard. Caretivity makes working together much easier and assures that you are always involved. Everyone is informed and on the same page—Instead of having emails, phone calls, and individual conversations happen at different times, and often with only a few of those involved in the case, now everyone can stay in the loop on the family. Everyone’s voice is important.

Parents could even ask to bring in their own support to the team, which would be someone who the parent trusts but also someone who the court system could consider to be trustworthy.

What is a System of Care?

A System of Care (SOC) is a broad array of services and supports for children, youth, and families with or at risk of challenges to their family’s health or their own health. SOCs organize people into a coordinated network that builds meaningful partnerships with youth and families and addresses their cultural, behavioral, mental, and physical needs to help them function better in all life domains.

gucchd.georgetown.edu

What are wraparound services?

Wraparound services put the child or youth and family at the center. With support from a team of professionals, providers, and natural supports, the family’s idea of what they need will take priority. What the providers and professionals perceive as the child or family needs will help drive all the work in wraparound.

nwi.pdx.edu

How can Caretivity help?

Social work professionals can invite anyone from their service providers, other professionals, parents, or natural supports to join the team and contribute to better outcomes. You can also create a plan using needs and milestones to see all team members work toward success. But the most important part of Caretivity is that your team can communicate with each other from anywhere at any time through group chat and video calls.

What are FCFCs?

Family and Children First Councils (FCFCs) are exclusive to the state of Ohio, USA.

FCFCs are councils that exist in all 88 counties within Ohio and were created by Ohio Family and Children First (OFCF) partnership. OFCF is comprised of the Departments of Aging, Developmental Disabilities, Education, Health, Job and Family Services, Medicaid, Mental Health and Addiction Services, Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities, Rehabilitation and Correction, Youth Services, and the Office of Budget and Management. Their goal is to streamline and coordinate government services for children and families.

Each county is required to have a Service Coordination Mechanism, which must incorporate certain provisions found in the Ohio Revised Code (ORC) 121.37 (C)(D) and 121.38. The OFCF Service Coordination Mechanism Guidance explains and provides helpful suggestions for developing the county Service Coordination Mechanism.

Service Coordination Mechanism Guidance, 2017

Memo to the County FCFCs, 2017

Service Coordination Matrix, 2017

FCFCs are required to be open to the public. A parent representative has the option to attend an FCFC meeting and sit in on it. A parent is not required to attend this meeting, but the option must be made available.

How can Caretivity help?

We know that there are several different people and organizations that make up an FCFC. Caretivity keeps these people in constant contact with each other. Instead of waiting until the end of the month to try and coordinate services for a high-risk family, the FCFC can get that family help on the fly. It’s a new way of thinking in an industry that has typically not been very receptive to new technology and changing practices.

"What are CASAs, GALs, and AALs?"

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) and Guardian Ad Litems (GAL) are appointed by judges to represent children’s best interests in child cases involving the child welfare system since children can’t represent themselves. CASAs are trained volunteers while GALs may be attorneys or trained volunteers.

When a child welfare agency files information with the court to consider how the agency should be involved with your family and child(ren), the court must appoint an Attorney Ad Litem (AAL) and a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) to represent the interests of the child. In many jurisdictions, a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) is assigned to serve as the GAL. Whether it is a GAL or CASA, their role in the case is to gather as much information as possible from everyone, then share their recommendation with the court regarding what they believe is in the best interest of the child(ren).

Childwelfare.gov

"What are some tips for working with CASAs, GALs, and AALs?"

CASAs and GALs can be very different from one to another, so it’s important to realize that the level of participation you get from them may be very different as well.

GAL’s do not always have the time they wish they did to get to know a family on a personal level. Still, their job is to give the court their opinion based on whatever information and conversation they can collect in a very short amount of time.  It is important to make a good first impression with the GAL or CASA, even if, as a parent, you are still trying to figure out why all these people you barely know are now involved with you, your family and your case.

A GALs job is to find out what is in the children’s best interests – not yours, the agency or the other parent/guardian’s best interest.

dss.virginia.gov

"How can Caretivity help?"
With so many new people being assigned to your case, it is important that, as a parent, you are able to communicate and make sure your voice is heard. Caretivity makes working together so much easier and assures you are always involved. Making sure everyone is informed and on the same page is key. Instead of having emails, phone calls, and individual conversations happen at different times, and often with only a few of those involved in the case, now, everyone can stay in the loop on everything that is going on regarding the family.  Everyone’s voice is important.

Parents could even ask to bring in their own support to the team which would be someone who the parent trusts but also someone who the court system could consider to be trustworthy.

"What are FCFCs?"
FCFCs are exclusive to the state of Ohio, USA.

Family and Children First Councils (FCFC) are councils that exist in all 88 counties within Ohio and were created by Ohio Family and Children First (OFCF) partnership. OFCF is comprised of the Departments of Aging, Developmental Disabilities, Education, Health, Job and Family Services, Medicaid, Mental Health and Addiction Services, Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities, Rehabilitation and Correction, Youth Services, and the Office of Budget and Management. Their goal is to streamline and coordinate government services for children and families.

Each county is required to have a Service Coordination Mechanism. The Service Coordination Mechanism must incorporate certain provisions found in the Ohio Revised Code (ORC) 121.37 (C)(D) and 121.38. The OFCF Service Coordination Mechanism Guidance provides an explanation of and helpful suggestions for developing the county Service Coordination Mechanism.

Service Coordination Guidance, 2017

Memo to the County FCFC, 2017

Service Coordination Matrix, 2017

FCFCs are required to be open to the public. A parent representative has the option to attend the meeting and actually sit in on it. A parent is not required to attend the FCFC meeting but the option must be made available.

"How can Caretivity help?"
We know that there are a ton of different people and organizations that make up an FCFC. Caretivity can assist these meetings by keeping these people in constant contact with each other. Instead of waiting until the end of the month to try and coordinate services for a high-risk family, the FCFC can get that family help on the fly. It’s a new way of thinking in an industry that has typically not been very receptive to new technology and changing practices.
"What is a System of Care?"

A Systems of Care (SOC) is a broad array of services and supports for children, youth, and families with or at risk of challenges to their family’s health or their own health. SOCs organize people into a coordinated network that builds meaningful partnerships with youth and families and addresses their cultural, behavioral, mental, and physical needs in order to help them to function better in all life domains.

gucchd.georgetown.edu

"What are Wraparound services?"

Wraparound services put the child or youth and family at the center. With support from a team of professionals, providers, and natural supports, the family’s idea of what they need will take priority. What the providers and professionals perceive what the child or family needs is what will help drive all of the work in Wraparound.

nwi.pdx.edu

"How can Caretivity help?"
Social work professionals can invite anyone from their service providers, other professionals, parents, or natural supports to join the team and contribute to better outcomes. You can also create a plan using goals an milestones to make sure that all team members are working towards achieving success. The most important part, however, is that your team can communicate with each other from anywhere at any time through group chat and video calls.

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