Glossary of Terms

Glossary of Terms

Group Home

A homelike setting in which a number of unrelated children live for varying time periods. Group homes may have one set of house parents or may have a rotating staff and some therapeutic or treatment group homes have specially-trained staff to assist children with emotional and behavioral difficulties.


Person who fulfills some of the responsibilities of the legal parent role, although the courts or birth parents may continue to hold some jurisdiction of the child. Guardians do not have the same reciprocal rights of inheritance as birth or adoptive parents. Guardianship is subject to ongoing supervision by the court and ends at the child’s majority or by order of the court.

Guardian Ad Litem (GAL)

A person, often an attorney, appointed by the court to represent the interests of a child, a ward, or an unborn infant in a particular court case. The status of guardian ad litem exists only within the confines of the particular court case in which the appointment occurs.

Home Study

A process through which prospective adoptive parents are educated about adoption and evaluated to determine their suitability to adopt.

  1. Abbreviation for Individualized Educational Plan, a plan for educational support services and outcomes developed for students enrolled in special education programs.
  2. Acronym for Interethnic Placement provisions; refers to Section 1808 of P.L. 104-188, Removal of Barriers to Interethnic Adoption, which affirms the prohibition contained in the Multi-Ethnic Placement Act of 1994 against delaying or denying the placement of a child for adoption or foster care on the basis of race, color or national origin of the foster or adoptive parents or of the child involved [42 USC 1996b].
Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)

A federal law (Public Law 95-608) regarding the placement of Native-American children which establishes the tribe’s sovereignty as a separate nation over the welfare of children who are tribal members of who are eligible for tribal membership.

Interstate Compact

A voluntary agreement between two or more States designed to address common problems of the States concerned.

Interstate Compact on Adoption and Medical Assistance (ICAMA)

An agreement between member states that governs the interstate delivery of and payment for medical services and adoption assistance payments/subsidies for adopted children with special needs. The agreements are established by the laws of the States which are parties to the Compact.

Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC)

An agreement regulating the placement of children across state lines. All 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have independently adopted the ICPC as statutory law in their respective jurisdictions.

Kinship Care

The full-time nurturing of a child by someone related to the child by family ties or by prior relationship connection (fictive kin).

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