Chapter 2

About Child Welfare in New York
Chapter 2 - About Child Welfare in New York
Glossary of Common Child Welfare Terms

The social, emotional, and legal process through which children who will not be raised by their birth parents become full and permanent legal members of another family while maintaining genetic and psychological connections to their birth family.

College Room and Board Exceptional Payments (CRB-EP)

Applicable in New York City Only
A type of financial support available to young adults still in foster care when they turn 21, if they are: 1) under the care of the New York City Administration for Children’s Services (ACS); 2) enrolled in college; 3) living on a college campus; and, 4) not living in an approved or licensed foster care placement. Eligible students may receive continued financial support on an as-needed basis and are not required to complete a CCS21+ to access support.

Continuation of Care and Support Beyond Age 21 (CCS21+)

Applicable in New York City Only
A type of financial support that applies only to young adults under the care of the New York City Administration for Children’s Services (ACS). Agencies may request a CCS21+ from ACS to allow the placement resources of young adults age 21 years or older to receive ongoing financial support while the young adults remain in their care. The CCS21+ also enables these young adults to receive ongoing case planning services from their agencies.

Court-Appointed Special Advocate (CASA)

A person (usually a volunteer appointed by the court) who advocates for the best interests of abused or neglected children and ensures their rights are fully protected during child welfare judicial proceedings. (

Dual-System Served/Crossover Youth

Youth who are involved in both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. Sometimes referred to as crossover, joint cases, dual-system served, or multisystem-involved youth.

Educational Neglect

Involves the failure of a parent or caregiver to enroll a child of mandatory school age in school or provide appropriate homeschooling or needed special education training, thus allowing the child or youth to engage in chronic truancy.

Education and Training Voucher (ETV)

A federally-funded, state-administered initiative that provides funding and support for post-secondary education to help youth aging out of foster care make the transition to self-sufficiency by ensuring they receive the education, training, and services necessary to obtain employment. This program is designed to help youth who are currently or were previously in foster care pay for post-secondary education or training. ETV gives students up to $5,000 a year to cover qualified school-related expenses. Funding is limited, and available on a first-come, first-served basis to eligible students. Students must complete the ETV application, which includes documentation that schools send directly to ETV each semester to confirm enrollment, the cost of attendance (COA), and unmet need.7

Emotional/Psychological Neglect

A pattern of behavior that impairs a child's emotional development or sense of self-worth. This may include constant criticism, threats, or rejection, as well as withholding love, support, or guidance.

Foster Care

A 24-hour substitute care for children placed away from their parents or guardians, and for whom the State agency has placement and care responsibility. This includes, but is not limited to, placements in foster family homes, foster homes of relatives, group homes, emergency shelters, residential facilities, child care institutions, and pre-adoptive homes.

Foster Care Board Rate

The amount paid to foster parent(s) or to prospective adoptive parent(s) to reimburse for the care and maintenance of child(ren) in the guardianship and custody of a social services official or a voluntary authorized agency. The foster care board rate is determined based on the needs of the child and is established as either:

  1. Regular/Normal (aka Basic)
  2. Special
  3. Exceptional, as defined in regulations.
Foster Home/Foster Boarding Home

A Foster Boarding Home is defined as a residence owned, leased, or otherwise under the control of a single person or family who has been certified or approved by an authorized agency to care for not more than six children.

Group Home

A residence, typically for 5 to 12 children, that is intended to serve as an alternative to a family foster home. These placement settings offer the potential for the full use of community resources, including employment, health care, education, and recreational opportunities. Group home programs are designed to fully integrate the child into the community, return the child to their family (or other permanent family), and/or provide the child with the necessary skills to live independently as a young adult.


A judicially created relationship between a child and caretaker that is intended to be permanent and self-sustaining as evidenced by the transfer to the caretaker of the following parental rights with respect to the child:

  • protection
  • education
  • care and control of the person
  • custody of the person
  • decision-making
Independent Living Services (ILS)

A program created to help youth in out-of-home care develop basic life skills (e.g., money management, finding housing) and obtain the education/vocational training needed to make a successful transition from foster care to responsible adulthood by taking an active role in planning for their futures.

Kinship Adoption

Adoption of a child by someone related by family ties or through a prior relationship.

Kinship Foster Care

Arrangements that occur when child welfare agencies take custody of a child after an investigation of abuse and/or neglect, and place the child with a kinship caregiver (someone related by family ties or through a prior relationship).

Law Guardian (Guardian Ad litem)

In New York, all children who are under age 18 and are subject to family court proceedings have the right to be represented by a Law Guardian. The Law Guardian is appointed by the Court to represent the child's interests.

National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD)

This national initiative seeks to capture the experiences and insights of youth with a foster care background to guide future policy decisions. Participating youth share basic information about the services they received while in care, and have the opportunity to leave a lasting legacy that influences positive change for future generations of children who enter the foster care system.8


A child is considered an orphan under several circumstances including:

  • the death or disappearance of both parents;
  • the abandonment or desertion by both parents;
  • the separation from, or loss of both parents; and,
  • if a surviving parent or unwed mother is unable to care for the child properly, as specified by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for inter-country adoption.

Every child deserves a legally permanent, nurturing family (aka forever family). As defined in the Child and Family Services Reviews, a child in foster care is determined to have achieved permanency when any of the following occurs:

  • the child is discharged from foster care to reunification with their family, either with a parent or other relative;
  • the child is discharged from foster care to a legally finalized adoption; or,
  • the child is discharged from foster care to the care of a legal guardian.
Permanency Hearing

A periodic court review held for the purpose of reviewing the permanency plan developed by the foster care agency or social services district on behalf of the child. The hearing reviews the foster care status, the appropriateness of the permanency planning goal, and the well-being of the child.

Permanency Planning Goal (PPG)

A goal established for children and youth placed in out-of-home care to facilitate permanent placements with caring adults thereby enabling them to develop stable, lifetime relationships. There are five possible permanency goals:

  • Return to Parent (Reunification) A reunification goal focuses on having the child or youth safely return home to their parents/family members. Reunification is the preferred permanency option, if possible.
  • Adoption Following the termination of parental rights, a legal process establishes a parent-child relationship between persons who are not related by birth and confers the same mutual rights and obligations that previously existed between children and their birth parents.
  • Guardianship This is a permanent, legal commitment to be responsible for and support a child until they reach adulthood (age 18). In some cases, with the youth’s consent, guardianship may continue until the youth is age 21. A guardian has the right and responsibility to make decisions that affect the life and development of the child. After a guardianship is established, child welfare authorities will no longer be involved in the care, supervision, or legal custody of the child.
  • Kinship Permanency is achieved through out-of-home care provided by relatives, members of the child’s tribe or clan, or other adults who have a familial relationship with a child.
  • Another Planned Permanent Living Arrangement (APPLA) This goal may be assigned only to foster care youth age 16 and over. APPLA means the youth will age out of foster care and enter into a stable, secure living arrangement on their own. New York requires that all youth with an APPLA goal (age out) to have at least one permanent relationship with an adult who agrees to guide and support them, equip them with life skills, and link them to any community resources they may need after their discharge from foster care.
Placement in Foster Care/Out-of-Home Care

When children in New York are removed from home, the family court places them into the care and custody of a Local County Department of Social Services (LDSS), or in New York City, into the care and custody of the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS). NOTE: LDSS and ACS often have contracts with private, not-for-profit agencies (authorized agencies) that provide foster care services. Therefore, youth in care may be living with a foster family, in a residential setting, in a group home operated by an agency other than the LDSS or ACS, or living with their relatives through a kinship care arrangement.

Physical Abuse

Generally defined as "any non-accidental physical injury to the child" and may include striking, kicking, burning, or biting the child, or any action that results in a physical impairment of the child. In approximately 38 states and certain territories, the definition of abuse also includes acts or circumstances that threaten the child with harm, or create a substantial risk of harm to the child's health or welfare.

Physical Neglect

Defined as the failure to provide for a child's basic survival needs, such as nutrition, clothing, shelter, hygiene, and medical care. Physical neglect also may involve inadequate supervision of a child and other forms of reckless disregard of the child's safety and welfare.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder is an anxiety disorder that develops following frightening, stressful, or distressing life events. Characterized by intense fear, helplessness, and stress, PTSD affects the normal life and functioning of the patient.

Residential Treatment Facility

A licensed or approved child care facility operated by a public or private agency and providing 24-hour care and/or treatment typically for 12 or more children who require separation from their own homes or who would benefit from a group living experience. These settings may include child care institutions, residential treatment facilities, or maternity homes.

Supervised Independent Living Program (SILP)

One or more of a type of agency boarding home operated and certified by an authorized child care agency in accordance with the regulations of the New York State Office of Children and Family Services. SILPs are intended to provide a transitional experience for older youth for whom the plan of care is to discharge to their own responsibility. Eligibility for this type of program is determined based on each youth’s individual situation, and the appropriate level of care and supervision they require to make a successful transition from foster care to self-sufficiency.

Transition Plan

A youth-driven planning document that must be developed within six months of a youth aging out of foster care. The plan covers important topics that youth need to address to help them make a successful transition from foster care to self-sufficiency.


A deeply distressing or disturbing experience. Traumatic stress occurs when children and adolescents are exposed to events or situations that overwhelm their ability to cope and interfere with their daily life and ability to function and interact with others.

Ward of the Court

A governmental agency may take temporary custody of a minor for their protection and care if the child is suffering from parental neglect or abuse, or has been in trouble with the law. The Ward is the person for whom an appointed Guardian makes decisions. The Ward may not have the cognitive or communicative capacity to make decisions for themselves or be able to give informed consent for personal, medical, or financial affairs. Sometimes the Ward is called the Guardianee.