Common Acronyms and Abbreviations





Attorney ad litem

An attorney who provides services for the purposes of the legal action only, including representation of a child, and who owes to the person the duties of undivided loyalty, confidentiality, and competent representation.





Settling conflict outside of litigation, (e.g., mediation).


Adoption and

Foster Care

Analysis and Reporting System

An application that collects case level information on all children in foster care for whom State child welfare agencies have responsibility for placement, care or supervision, and on children who are adopted under the auspices of the State's public child welfare agency.



Judicial Region

The state of Texas is divided into nine administrative judicial regions. Each region has a presiding judge that is appointed by the Governor to serve a four-year term.


Another Planned Permanent Living Arrangement

A permanent legal arrangement for a child designed to promote stability and permanency in a child's life; refers to permanent placements other than a reunification with a parent, adoption, or permanent managing conservatorship to a relative.


Adoption and

Safe Families Act

The Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 (Public Law 105-89) was enacted by the United States Congress in an attempt to correct problems that were inherent in the foster care system that deterred the adoption of children with special needs. Many of these problems had stemmed from an earlier bill, the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980, although they had not been anticipated when the law was passed. The biggest change to the law was how ASFA Amended Title IV-E of the Social Security Act regarding funding.


Admission, Review, and Dismissal

Process by which a student's parents and school staff meet at least annually to: 1) decide whether a student has an eligible disability; 2) determine what special education and related services will be provided; and 3) develop an individual education program.


Bureau of Indian Affairs

Bureau of the U.S. Department of the Interior, which currently provides services (directly or through contracts, grants, or compacts) to approximately 1.9 million Native Americans and Alaska Natives.


Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths

A tool developed for children's services to support decision making, including level of care and service planning, to facilitate quality improvement initiatives, and to allow for the monitoring of outcomes. services.


Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act

Federal legislation addressing child abuse and neglect.


Court Appointed

Special Advocate; Website

A specially screened and trained volunteer, appointed by the court, which conducts an independent investigation of child abuse, neglect, or other dependency matters, and submits a formal report proffering advisory recommendations as to the best interests of a child. In some jurisdictions, volunteers without formal legal training, such as CASAs, are appointed to represent abused and neglected children, serving in the capacity of a Guardian ad litem.


Court of Exclusive, Continuing Jurisdiction

Upon rendition of a final order in a SAPCR, a court acquires continuing, exclusive jurisdiction over all subsequent matters regarding the child, unless otherwise provided by Tex. Fam. Code Chapter 155.


Texas Child Fatality Review Team; Webpage

A multidisciplinary, multi-agency group, mandated by state law that oversees and assists the work of local review teams in Texas, and works to develop a statewide understanding of the scope and magnitude of childhood mortality.


Child and Family

Services Review

A Federal-State collaborative effort designed to help ensure that quality services are provided to children and families through State child welfare systems.






Strengthening Texas courts to achieve safety, permanency, and well-being for abused and neglected children is the work of the

Court Improvement Program.


Circle of Support

Held soon after a youth who has been removed from the home reaches age 16. Primary purpose is to develop a transition plan for the youth and to connect youth to supportive and caring adults who can help the youth when the youth leaves foster care.


Court Ordered Services

Type of CPS case during which services are ordered by the court for the family, but DFPS does not have temporary managing conservatorship of the child.


Community Based Care

A newer model of serving children and families through partnerships with private Single Source Continuum Contractors in designated catchment areas.


Child Placing Agency

Licensed by DFPS and required to conform to minimum standards, verify and oversee non-agency foster placements.


Child Protection


Courts that specialize in child protection cases.


Child Protective

Services; Website

A division of Texas DFPS that provides services to children and families in their own homes; places children in foster care; provides services to help youth in foster care make the transition to adulthood; and places children in adoptive homes.


Centralized Placement Unit

Reviews child's information, tracks placement vacancies, and determines least restrictive placement option that best meets needs of child.


Community Resource Coordination Group

Collaboration of local public and private agencies, organizations, and families to work together to meet the needs of individuals which no one agency can meet.


Child Safety Check Alert List

Automated program operated by the Texas Department of Public Safety as part of the Texas Crime Information Center to assist DFPS in locating families that move before CPS begins or finishes an investigation or that move during the provision of services by CPS.



Legal care, custody and control of a child given by court order.


Child Welfare Board

Board developed and funded in some Texas counties to help meet needs of children and youth in foster care.


Texas Department of Family and Protective Services; Website

A state agency that is charged with protecting children, adults who are elderly or have disabilities living at home or in state facilities, and licensing group day-care homes, day-care centers, and registered family homes.


Texas Department of

Public Safety; Website

An agency of this state created to provide public safety services to those people in the state of Texas by enforcing laws, administering regulatory programs, managing records, educating the public and managing emergencies, both directly and through interaction with other agencies.


Texas Department of

State Health

Services; Website

The Texas Department of State Health Services promotes optimal health for individuals and communities while providing effective health, mental health, and substance abuse services to Texans.


Every Child Succeeds Act

Federal education law passed in December 2015 replacing No Child Left Behind. ESSA contains several educational stability provisions related to the education of children and youth in foster care that mirror the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008. ESSA also requires designated points of contact in education and child welfare systems, assurances that schools will coordinate with child welfare to develop transportation plans, and in December 2018, disaggregated data on children and youth in foster care will be included in the reporting requirements.


Family First Prevention Services Act

The Family First Prevention Services Act was signed into law as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act on February 9, 2018. This act reforms the federal child welfare financing streams, Title IV-E and Title IV-B of the Social Security Act, to provide services to families who are at risk of entering the child welfare system. The bill aims to prevent children from entering foster care by allowing federal reimbursement for mental health services, substance use treatment, and in-home parenting skill training. It also seeks to improve the well-being of children already in foster by incentivizing states to reduce placement of children in congregate care.


Family Based Safety Services

A type of service provided to some families who were the subject of an investigation of child abuse and neglect allegations. Also known as Family Preservation. Includes services to families to prevent removal of the child from the home.


Foster Care

Review Board

A panel of screened and trained volunteers preferably appointed by juvenile or family courts to: regularly review cases of children in substitute placement such as foster care; examine efforts to identify a permanent placement for each child; and proffer advisory recommendations to the court.


Family Group Conference

A type of Family Group Decision Making. During a family group conference, the child's family joins with relatives, friends, and community members to develop a plan for the child and family. Generally held after a child is removed, but may also be used before removal when the family receives FBSS.


Family Group Decision Making

A collaborative approach to service planning and decision making, which involves the child or youth and his or her family to join CPS staff in developing a service plan.


Family Team Meeting

A type of Family Group Decision Making that is generally held before a child is removed from the home, but also may be held during other states of services, such as when a family receives FBSS or when a child is in DFPS conservatorship.


Guardian ad litem

A person appointed by a judge to represent the best interests of an allegedly abused or neglected child; in many counties the GAL is the CASA.


General Residential Operation

A residential child-care operation that provides child care for 13 or more children or young adults.


Health and Human Services Commission

State agency which oversees operations of the health and human services system.


Health, Social, Educational and Genetic History

Child's information provided in report to prospective adoptive families.



Compact on the

Placement of


Provides a solid legal framework for ensuring the timely placement of children across state lines, the suitability of prospective families, and the provision of needed support services. The proposed compact: (1) narrows the applicability of the compact to the interstate placement of children in the foster care system and children placed across state lines for adoption; (2) requires the development of time frames for completion of the approval process; (3) establishes clear rulemaking authority, (4) provides enforcement mechanisms; (5) clarifies state responsibility; and (6) ensures states' ability to purchase home studies from licensed agencies to expedite the process.


Indian Child

Welfare Act

The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), which was adopted by

Congress in 1978, applies to child custody proceedings in state courts involving "Indian" children -- children of Native American ancestry. The provisions of ICWA represent a dramatic departure from the procedural and substantive laws that most states have enacted to govern child custody proceedings.


Individualized Education Program

A plan for each child with a disability that is developed, reviewed, and revised by a committee, of which parents are active members. Includes the student's present levels of academic achievement and functional performance, participation in State and district-wide assessments, transition services, annual goals, special factors, special education, related services, supplementary aids and services, extended school year services, and least restrictive environment.


Information Management

Protecting Adults

& Children in


A statewide automated child welfare information system (SACWIS) system used by the Texas DFPS to aid in the investigation and assessment of alleged child and adult abuse or neglect cases.


Title IV-E

Title IV-E of the Social Security Act which provides federal funding stream to states for costs related to the provision of foster care.


Joint Managing Conservatorship

The sharing of the rights and duties of a parent by two parties, ordinarily the parents, even if the exclusive right to make certain decisions may be awarded to one party. Tex. Fam. Code § 101.016.


Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Youth


The Child Welfare Information Gateway web page includes information about serving lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth, including resources for LGBTQ youth in out-of-home care and resources offering support and guidance for LGBTQ youth and their families.


Memorandum of


An agreement between two parties in the form of a legal document. It is not fully binding in the way that a contract is, but it is stronger and more formal than a traditional gentleman's agreement. Sometimes, a memorandum of understanding is used as a synonym for a letter of intent, particularly in private law. A letter of intent expresses an interest in performing a service or taking part in an activity, but does not legally obligate either party.


National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges

The mission of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges is to provide all judges, courts, and related agencies involved with juvenile, family, and domestic violence cases with the knowledge and skills to improve the lives of the families and children who seek justice.


National Center for State Courts; Website

The mission of NCSC is to improve the administration of justice through leadership and service to state courts, and courts around the world.


Office of the

Attorney General; Website

A Texas state agency that serves as legal counsel to all boards and agencies of state government, issues legal opinions when requested by the Texas Governor, heads of state agencies and other officials and agencies as provided by Texas statutes, sits as an ex-officio member of state committees and commissions, and defends challenges to state laws and suits against both state agencies and individual employees of the State.


Office of Court

Administration; Website

The mission of OCA is to provide Resources and Information for the Efficient Administration of the Judicial Branch of Texas.


Preparation for

Adult Living

A program within CPS to provide support and services to help youth prepare for independent adult living upon departure from

DFPS care and support.


Permanency Conference

Held when it is not possible or appropriate to hold a Family Group Conference. Used to develop a youth's permanency plan and the family's service plan.


Permanent Joint



The long-term sharing of the rights and duties of a parent by two parties, ordinarily the parents, even if the exclusive right to make certain decisions may be awarded to one party; granted by final decree. Tex. Fam. Code § 101.016.





Placement of a child in the permanent conservatorship of an entity or person, by court order, (e.g. Texas DFPS, relative) with no intention of returning the child to the parent's custody.


Ruled Out

One of the possible dispositions given in a DFPS investigation of child abuse and neglect. The information gathered during the investigation supports a reasonable conclusion that: 1) the alleged abuse did not occur; 2) the alleged perpetrator is 9 years old or younger; 3) the alleged abuse or neglect did occur but there is sufficient evidence to reasonably conclude that the named alleged perpetrator is not responsible.


Reason to Believe

One of the possible dispositions given in a DFPS investigation of child abuse and neglect. Based on the preponderance of information gathered during the investigation, the caseworker concludes that the alleged abuse or neglect did occur and the alleged perpetrator is responsible for it.





Placement of a child in treatment where the child lives at the facility providing the treatment services.



Automated Child

Welfare Information System (SACWIS)

A comprehensive automated case management tool that meets the needs of all staff (including social workers and their supervisors, whether employed by the State, county, or contracted private providers) involved in foster care and adoptions assistance case management.


Suit Affecting Parent-Child Relationship

A law suit, filed in child protective courts, that affects the parent-child relationship, such as conservatorship of a child that has allegedly been abused or neglected by a parent or guardian.


Special Immigrant Juvenile Status

SIJS is an immigration classification that may allow for a child who is present in the U.S. without legal immigration status and who has been abused, abandoned, or neglected by a parent.


Regional Support



Persons assigned to a region for the support of Texas DFPS programs.


Single Source Continuum Contractor

Non-profit or governmental entity with child welfare as primary mission that contracts with DFPS to oversee delivery of services through the state's community-based care foster care program.


Trust-Based Relational Intervention

Developed by Texas Christian University's Institute of Child Development, evidence-based principles and practices to accelerate healing and speed to permanency for children in foster care.


Texas Crime Identification Center

TCIC provides immediate access 24/7 to law enforcement agencies throughout Texas to data regarding the stolen status of property and the wanted, missing, sex offender, or protective order status of persons.


Texas Education Agency

The Texas Education Agency is the state agency dedicated to elementary and secondary education.


Texas Family


The laws and statutes that govern Texas family law including child protection.


Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board's mission is to promote access, affordability, quality, success, and cost efficiency in the state's institutions of higher education, through Closing the Gaps and its successor plan 60x30, resulting in a globally competent workforce that positions Texas as an international leader in an increasingly complex world economy.


Temporary Joint Managing Conservatorship

When temporary managing conservatorship is granted to DFPS and the parent(s) or other person.





The awarding of conservatorship of a child to Texas DFPS. This may include children remaining in their home with orders from the court for particular requirements to ensure the safety of the child or the removal of a child from the family for safety and well-being purposes.


Transition Plan Meeting

Held soon after a youth who has been removed from the home reaches age 16.


Texas Rules of

Civil Procedure; PDF

Rules to obtain a just, fair, equitable and impartial adjudication of the rights of litigants under established principles of substantive law.


Unable to Complete

One of the possible dispositions given in a DFPS investigation of child abuse and neglect. The caseworker could not gather enough information because the caseworker could not locate a principal or a principal was uncooperative.


Unable to Determine

One of the possible dispositions given in a DFPS investigation of child abuse and neglect. The allegation does not meet the criteria for unable to complete, but: 1) the information gathered is not enough to determine whether the abuse or neglect occurred; or 2) there is enough information to determine that abuse or neglect occurred, but there is not enough information to determine if the alleged perpetrator is responsible.




A case reason for Medical Neglect


A case reason for Non-Support


A case reason for Physical Abuse


A case reason for Physical Neglect


A case reason for Refusal to Accept Parental Responsibility


A case reason for Sexual Abuse


A case reason for Mental or Emotional Injury


A case reason for Abandonment


A case reason for Neglectful Supervision