Glossary of Juvenile Dependency Terms


.26 hearing:  The selection and implementation hearing under WIC §366.26, at which the court selects and implements a permanency plan of adoption, legal guardianship, or long-term foster care for a child who cannot be returned home. [WIC §366.26(b).]

300 grounds:  grounds specified in WIC §300(a)–(j) that give the juvenile court jurisdiction over an abused, neglected, or abandoned child.

342 petition:  a subsequent petition by DSS alleging new facts or circumstances sufficient to state that a child is a person described by WIC §300. [WIC §342; CRC 5.560(b).]

361.5 exceptions:  situations specified in WIC §361.5(b) when reunification services need not be provided to a parent or guardian.

387 petition:  a supplemental petition filed by DSS to seek a more restrictive level of physical custody when DSS concludes that a previous disposition is not effectively protecting a dependent child. [WIC §387; CRC 5.560(c).]

388 petition:  a petition to change, modify, or set aside a court order, or to terminate jurisdiction. [WIC §388; CRC 5.560(d), (e).]

388(e) petition:  a petition by a nonminor to resume dependency jurisdiction over a former dependent, or to assume or resume transition jurisdiction over a former delinquent ward. [WIC §388(e); CRC 5.906.]

391 petition:  a petition to terminate jurisdiction over a nonminor dependent. [WIC §391(a); CRC 5.555(a).]

abandoned:  one ground for denying reunification services if abandonment was willful; excludes good faith actions by the parent without the intent of placing the child in serious danger. [See WIC §361.5(b)(9).] Under FC §7822, except for an Indian child, which the statute addresses separately, a parent abandons a child if the parent intends to abandon the child and:

Adam’s Law: authorizes the court to order a social worker to conduct a home visit within three months of placing a child with a noncustodial parent and to file a report with the court; requires social worker to provide caregiver a form that may be filed with the court to provide information about the noncustodial parent. [See WIC §§361.2(b)(2), 366.23.]

Adoption & Permanency Guidelines:  a publication of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges entitled Adoption & Permanency Guidelines: Improving Court Practice in Child Abuse & Neglect Cases  (Fall 2000). To order this publication, go to the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges Web site.

Adoption and Safe Families Act: see Title IV-E.

affinity:  the connection existing between one spouse and the blood or adoptive relatives of the other spouse.

alleged parent:  often a man identified by the mother as a possible father but who has not attained or cannot attain the status of presumed father. An alleged father who denies he is the child’s father need not be offered reunification services. An alleged father who does not deny he is the father or who is unsure may request a determination of paternity. A finding of paternity does not require that he be offered reunification services. [In re Zacharia D. (1993) 6 C4th 435, 449, fn 15.]

assessed home:  a  home of a relative or nonrelative extended family member that is assessed by the social worker, not the court, regarding its suitability for placement. [See WIC §309(d)(1).]

assessment:  a report prepared by DSS or other supervising agency when a .26 hearing is ordered. The .26 assessment must include:

[See WIC §§361.5(g), 366.21(i), 366.22(b); CRC 5.710(f)(2), 5.715(d)(3)(B), 5.720(c)(8).]

A similar assessment is prepared when considering the appointment of a legal guardian. [See WIC §360(a).] See also preliminary joint assessment.

biological father: see natural father.

Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA):  the federal agency that must be notified when DSS cannot identify a specific tribe that should receive notice about a possible Indian child under ICWA. When no particular tribe can be identified, BIA determines whether the child is an Indian child.

CAPTA guardian ad litem:  a special guardian ad litem appointed for the child under the federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act. An attorney appointed for the child serves as the CAPTA guardian ad litem; if the child has no attorney the CASA serves in this capacity. [WIC §326.5; CRC 5.662.]

CASA program:  a local court-appointed special advocate program that is designated by the local presiding juvenile court judge to recruit, screen, select, train, supervise, and support lay volunteers [see CASA volunteer]. [WIC §100;CRC 5.655(b)(1).]

CASA volunteer:  a person who is recruited, trained, and supervised by a local CASA program, and who is appointed by the juvenile court to help define the best interests of a child in a dependency proceeding and to provide independent, factual information to the court. [WIC §102; CRC 5.655(b)(3), (f).]

case plan:  the plan developed by the social services agency telling parents what they need to do to resolve the problems that brought the children’s case before the court. Depending on whether the child is removed from the home, the plan may include family maintenance, family reunification services, or reasons why reunification services should be denied. Among other services, the plan may recommend parenting classes, counseling, visitation, drug or alcohol counseling, and domestic violence counseling. The plan is usually included in the social worker’s report and is considered and updated for each hearing. A copy of the plan is given to the child's caregiver. [See WIC §16501.1.] The child must participate in developing the plan as age and developmentally appropriate. The social worker must solicit input of the child, the child's family, the child's identified Indian tribe and other interested parties, and integrate this into the case plan. [CRC 5.690(c).]

child:  a person under age 18 who has not been legally emancipated. [CRC 5.502(5).]

Child Protective Services (CPS):  see Department of Social Services.

child welfare services:  public social services that are directed towards, among other purposes, protecting and promoting dependent children; preventing problems that may result in neglect, abuse, or exploitation; preventing the breakup of families; and identifying children suitable for adoption when reunification is not appropriate. [See WIC §16501.] The proposed redesign of child welfare services, to be implemented beginning January 2004, may make major changes to this description.

clear and convincing evidence:  evidence indicating that the thing to be proved is highly probable or reasonably certain.

concurrent permanency planning:  planning required by federal and state law for an alternative permanent placement in case reunification efforts fail. The planning must occur concurrently with development of the case plan for reunification or maintenance services.

court-appointed special advocate:  see CASA program.

date the child entered foster care (DCEFC):  the earlier of:

[WIC §361.49; CRC 5.502(9), (19).] This date is used to calculate when periodic reviews must be set, and when reunification services should be terminated.

de facto parent:  a person who assumes the role of parent by fulfilling the child’s physical and psychological needs for a lengthy period on a day-to-day basis. [CRC 5.502(10).] If authorized by the court, a de facto parent has standing to participate in disposition hearings and any hearings thereafter.

Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS):  see Department of Social Services.

Department of Child Support Services (DCSS):  a department within the California Health and Human Services Agency that performs all functions necessary to establish, collect, and distribute child support. [See FC §17000 et seq.; 22 CCR 110000 et seq.] At the initial or detention hearing, the court may advise the parents that the department may file an action to collect child support.

Department of Social Services (DSS):  the petitioner in a WIC §300 proceeding. At the local level, the petitioner may be known by a variety of formal names and acronyms, including Child Protective Services (CPS), the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), the Department of Human Services (DHS), or the Social Services Agency (SSA).

dependency petition:  the verified pleading filed by DSS that initiates judicial intervention to protect a child alleged to be at risk as a result of one or more statutorily defined acts or conditions. [WIC §332; CRC 5.524.]

dependent child:  a child who is described by WIC §300 and is declared to be a dependent of the juvenile court at the disposition hearing. [WIC §360(d).]

described by WIC §300:  see person described by WIC §300.

detained:  the removal of a child by a social worker or police officer from someone legally entitled to the child's physical custody. [CRC 5.502(11).]

detention hearing:  the first hearing after a dependency petition is filed when a child has been detained at which the court determines whether DSS made a prima facie showing that the child is described by WIC §300 and whether the detention should continue. See also initial hearing.

disposition hearing:  the hearing at which the court determines whether to declare the child to be a dependent of the court, whether to return the child home, and whether to provide reunification services and, if so, the nature of those services.

dual status child: a child who is simultaneously designated a dependent and ward of the court pursuant to a local written protocol. [WIC §241.1(e); see WIC §366.5.]

exit order:  a juvenile court order terminating the court’s jurisdiction and giving custody to a parent. If no nullity, dissolution, guardianship, or paternity proceeding is pending in family court, the exit order is filed with the family law clerk who opens a file on behalf of the custodial parent. All future requests to modify the custody order must be heard in the family court. [See WIC §362.4; CRC 5.700.]

family maintenance (FM) services:  the services ordered when the court determines that a dependent child may safely remain in the home conditioned on the parents’ successful participation in the services. [WIC §16506.]

family reunification (FR) services:  the services ordered to be provided to the parents after the court removes a child from the parents. [WIC §16507.]

foster care:  residential care provided in any of the settings described in WIC §11402. [CRC 5.502(14).]

general jurisdiction:  the jurisdiction the juvenile court retains over a nonminor at the time of the dismissal of dependency jurisdiction, delinquency jurisdiction, or transition jurisdiction for the purpose of considering a request to resume its dependency jurisdiction or to assume or resume its transition jurisdiction over the person as a nonminor dependent. [CRC 5.502(16).]

general placement order:  an order giving the social worker authority to place the child outside of the custodial parent’s home. [WIC §361.2(e).]

ICPC:  the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children, a federal law codified in FC §7900 et seq. The act applies whenever the court is considering placing or permitting a dependent child to reside in another state. [See CRC 5.616.] The ICPC Administrator within the California Department of Social Services processes all requests for interstate placement. The ICPC governs conditions for out-of-state placement in foster care or as a preliminary to a possible adoption, neither of which involve natural parents. Accordingly, compliance with the ICPC is not required for placement with an out-of-state parent. [In re Z.K. (2011) 201 CA4th 51, 66.]

ICWA:  the Indian Child Welfare Act (25 USC §1901 et seq.), which applies when a child is a member of an Indian tribe or eligible for membership in one. The Act allows the tribe to intervene at any point in the proceeding to protect and encourage the child’s connection to the tribe. [See WIC §§224, 224.4; CRC 5.664.]

Indian child: an unmarried minor who is a member of an Indian tribe or is eligible for membership in an Indian tribe and is the biological child of a member. [25 USC §1903(4); WIC §224.1; CRC 5.664(a)(1).] The tribe determines who is a member or is eligible for membership. [CRC 5.664(g).]

Indian child’s tribe:  the tribe in which the child is a member or eligible for membership, or, if the child is a member of or eligible for membership in more than one tribe, the tribe with which the child has more significant contacts. [25 USC §1903(5); WIC §§224.1, 306.6; CRC 5.664(a)(2).]

Indian custodian:  an Indian person who has:

      [25 USC §1903(6); WIC §224.1; CRC 5.664(a)(3).]

Indian tribe:  any tribe, band, nation, or other organized group or community of Indians eligible for services provided to Indians by the Secretary of the Interior. [25 USC §1903(8); WIC §224.1; CRC 5.664(a)(6).]

infliction of severe physical harm:  cause suffering that may be based on, but is not limited to [WIC §361.5(b)(6)]:

informal supervision:  short-term services provided to a family by DSS in lieu of filing a dependency petition [see WIC §301; CRC 5.514(e), 5.516(b)], or short-term services ordered at the disposition hearing in lieu of declaring the child a dependent when it appears the family is willing and able to cooperate with DSS [WIC §360(b)].

in-home placement:  placement of a dependent child in the home of the custodial or noncustodial parent, along with family maintenance services.

initial hearing:  the first hearing held after a dependency petition is filed, at which the court advises the parties, sets future hearing dates, and, if the child was detained, determines whether the detention should continue and if so, whether DSS made a prima facie showing that the child is described by WIC §300 and whether the child should be detained. See also detention hearing.

Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children:  see ICPC.

joint assessment:  see preliminary joint assessment. See also assessment.

jurisdiction hearing:  the hearing at which the court determines whether the allegations in the petition are true and the child is a person described by WIC §300.

Kelsey” biological or nonbiological father:  an unwed biological father who promptly comes forward and demonstrates a full commitment to his parental responsibilities—emotional, financial, and otherwise. [Adoption of Kelsey S. (1992) 1 C4th 816, 849; see In re Julia U. (1998) 64 CA4th 532, 540–541 (extending Kelsey to dependency proceedings).] The Kelsey constitutional protections may be extended to nonbiological fathers who demonstrate their commitment to parental responsibility. [In re Jerry P. (2002) 95 CA4th 793, 816.]

Kin-GAP program:  Kinship Guardianship Assistance Payment program, under which a relative (or “kinship”) guardian may receive financial aid on behalf of the child if the relative cared for the child for at least 12 consecutive months before termination of the dependency. [See WIC §11360 et seq.]

long-term foster care:  one of the permanent placements in which the court may place a dependent child. Federal law no longer considers long-term foster care an appropriate permanency plan, but instead speaks of a “planned permanent living arrangement.” The California dependency system is still becoming familiar with this new language. [See 42 USC §675(5)(C); Seiser & Kumli, California Juvenile Courts Practice and Procedure (LexisNexis) §2.171[6][a].] See also foster care.

member of the household:  any person continually or frequently found in the same household as the child. [CRC 5.502(20).]

mental disability:  a mental incapacity or disorder that renders a parent unable to care for and control the child adequately; evidence from two experts required to support the finding. [FC §7827.]

modification petition: see 388 petition.

natural father:  a man who is determined to be the father through a court judgment that may be based on biological testing or other evidence; also called the “biological father.” Blood and DNA tests to determine paternity are governed by FC §7550 et seq.

90-day transition plan:  the personalized plan developed at the direction of a child currently in a foster care placement during the 90-day period before the child's planned exit from foster care when she or he attains 18 years of age. [CRC 5.502(22).]

nonminor dependent:  a person at least 18 and no more than 20 years of age who was under an order for a foster care placement on his or her 18th birthday and is currently in foster care under the placement and care of the county welfare department, county probation department, or Indian tribe, who is participating in a Transitional Independent Living Case Plan, and who meets at least one education, training, or work requirement, or is excused due a medical condition. [CRC 5.502(23).]

nonminor dependent status review: a status review hearing that focuses on the goals and services described in the nonminor dependent’s Transitional Independent Living Case Plan and the efforts and progress made toward achieving independence and establishing lifelong connections with caring and committed adults. [CRC 5.903(a).]

nonrelative extended family member:  any adult caregiver who has an established familial or mentoring relationship with the child. [WIC §362.7.] When a child is removed or detained, he or she may be placed in an assessed home of a nonrelative extended family member. [WIC §319(f).]

“no reunification services” order:  an order denying reunification services to a parent or guardian at a disposition hearing pursuant to any of the statutory exceptions set forth in WIC §361.5(b).

out-of-home placement:  placement of a dependent child with a relative or in foster care, along with provision of family reunification services unless an exception applies that would deny such services.

parentage: a judicial finding that a person is the parent of a child, e.g., that a person is the natural (or biological) father of the child, established primarily through the Uniform Parentage Act [FC §7600 et seq.], or is a parent as defined by the Registered Domestic Partners Act [FC §297 et seq].

periodic review hearings:  see review hearings.

person described by WIC §300:  a child who comes within any of the statutory descriptions in §300 of abused, neglected, or abandoned children, and is therefore within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court.

petition:  see dependency petition.

planned permanent living arrangement:  see long-term foster care.

postpermanency planning review hearing (PPR):  the review hearing held every six months after the .26 hearing to review the permanency plan of adoption, guardianship, or foster care, until the dependency is dismissed. [WIC §366.3(d)–(g).]

preadoptive parent:  an adult who is a licensed foster parent who was approved to adopt a child by a licensed adoption agency, or with whom the birth parents independently placed a child for adoption through an adoption service provider.

preliminary joint assessment:  the report jointly prepared by the responsible child protective services department and the county probation department, usually before a dependency petition is filed, when it appears that a child can be declared both a dependent and a ward of the court. [WIC §241.1(a), (b); CRC 5.512(a), (d).] See also assessment and dual status child.

preponderance of the evidence:  the greater weight of evidence; a burden of proof under which a party, usually DSS, must persuade the court from all the evidence presented that something is more likely true than not true.

presumed father: a man is presumed to be the natural father of a child if he meets any of the conditions specified in FC §7611.

prima facie evidence or showing:  evidence that is sufficient to prove a particular fact until contradicted and overcome by other evidence. For example, at the detention hearing DSS must make a prima facie showing that the child is a person described by WIC §300.

reasonable efforts: a required finding (a) at the detention or disposition hearing regarding DSS’s efforts to prevent or eliminate the need for removal [WIC §319(d)(1); CRC 5.502(30), 5.678(c)(1), 5.695(e)], or (b) at the six-month review or later hearings regarding DSS’s efforts to safely return the child home and to finalize a permanent placement [WIC §§366(a)(1), 366.21(f), 366.26(c)(2), 366.3(e); CRC 5.725(f)(1)].

reasonable services:  a required finding at the review or .26 hearing regarding level of reunification services provided before the court may terminate parental rights.

relative:  an adult who is related to the child by blood, adoption, or affinity within the fifth degree, including stepparents, stepsiblings, and all relatives whose status is preceded by the words “great, “great-great,” or “grand,” or the spouse of any of these persons even if the marriage was terminated by death or dissolution. Preferential consideration for placement is given to a grandparent, aunt, uncle, or sibling. [WIC §361.3(c)(2); CRC 5.502(31).]

relinquishment:  the process by which a parent voluntarily relinquishes a child for adoption. [See WIC §§8700, 8702.] If the relinquishment is filed with DSS, reunification services need not be provided. [WIC §361.5(a); CRC 5.695(h)(6).]

removal: a court order that takes away the care, custody, and control of a dependent child from the child’s parent or guardian, and places the care, custody, and control of the child with the court, under the supervision of the local child welfare agency. [CRC 5.502(32).]

Resource Guidelines:  a publication of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges entitled Resource Guidelines: Improving Court Practice in Child Abuse & Neglect Cases  (Spring 1995). To order this publication, go to the publications link at the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges Web site.

reunification services:  services that DSS is ordered to provide the parents or custodian to help the child to be returned to the child’s home, unless a statutory exception to reunification services applies.

review hearings:  various hearings to review a dependent child’s case, including:

See also nonminor dependent status review, postpermanency planning review hearing.

selection and implementation hearing:  see .26 hearing.

serious danger:  the level of danger that will result in severe or permanent disability, injury, illness, or death without the intervention of another person or agency. [WIC §361.5(b)(9).]

serious emotional damage:  emotional damage evidenced by severe anxiety, depression, withdrawal, or untoward aggressive behavior toward self or others that brings a child within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court; also called “severe” emotional damage. [WIC §§300(c), 361(c)(3); CRC 5.695(d)(3).]

serious physical harm:  one level of nonaccidental harm inflicted by a parent or guardian that brings a child within jurisdiction of the juvenile court; such harm excludes reasonable and age-appropriate spanking to the buttocks where there is no evidence of serious physical injury. [WIC §300(a).] See also substantial risk of serious future injury.

severe physical abuse:  any of the following abuses that brings a child within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court [WIC §300(e)]:

      See also infliction of severe physical harm.

severe sexual abuse:  may be based on, but is not limited to, any of the following forms of abuse [WIC §361.5(b)(6)]:

sexual abuse:  any sexual assault or sexual exploitation as defined in PC §11165.1. [WIC §300(d).] See also severe sexual abuse.

shared responsibility plan: a plan developed between a teen parent declared to be a dependent and placed in a foster home, the caregiver of the teen’s child, and the local child welfare agency to preserve the teen parent family unit and to encourage cooperation between the teen and caregiver. [WIC §16501.25.]

sibling: for the purposes of granting or denying visitation or a “sibling petition,” a child related to another person by blood, adoption, or affinity through a common legal or biological parent. [WIC §§362.1(c), 388(b).]

sibling group:  two or more children who are related to each other as full or half-siblings. [WIC §361.5(a)(1)(C); CRC 5.502(34).]

Social Services Agency (SSA):  see Department of Social Services.

social study:  any written report provided to the court and all parties and counsel by the social worker in any matter involving the custody, status, or welfare of a child in a dependency proceeding. [See, e.g., WIC §§355(b)(1), 358.1; CRC 5.502(35), 5.690(a).]

social worker’s report:  the report filed by the social worker in the detention or initial hearing, and updated in following hearings. [See, e.g., WIC §§319(b), 366.21(c); CRC 5.710(c).] See also social study.

status review hearing:  see nonminor dependent status review hearing

steps to facilitate the adoption process: steps taken by a caretaker may include [WIC §366.26(n)(2); CRC 5.726(b)(3)]:

subsequent petition:  see 342 petition.

substantial risk of serious future injury: a finding of such risk may be based on [WIC §300(a)]:

supplemental petition:  see 387 petition.

Title IV-E:  a section of the Social Security Act (42 USC §670 et seq.) that is also known as the Adoption and Safe Families Act. Title IV-E requires state courts to make special findings at removal hearings, pre-permanency review hearings, permanency hearings, and post-permanency review hearings. The act is intended to protect the best interests of the child, ensure reasonable efforts are made to prevent removal from the home, vest temporary care and placement of the child with the county child welfare agency, and encourage concurrent planning of an alternative permanent placement. The county agency is not eligible to receive federal foster care funding if the findings are inadequate.

transfer-in:  the procedure by which the court receives a dependency case transferred from another county. [See WIC §375 et seq.; CRC 5.612.]

transfer-out:  the procedure by which the court transfers a dependency case to another county. [See WIC §375 et seq.; CRC 5.610.]

transition jurisdiction:  the juvenile court's jurisdiction over a child or nonminor described in WIC §450. [CRC 5.502(38).]

transitional independent living case plan:  a child’s case plan submitted for the last review hearing held before he or she turns 18 years of age or a nonminor dependent’s case plan, describing the goals and objectives of how the child or nonminor will make progress in the transition to living independently and assuming incremental responsibility for adult decision making. [See CRC 5.502(39).]

transitional independent living plan:  the written unique, individualized service delivery plan for a child or nonminor that identifies the child's or nonminor’s current level of functioning, emancipation goals, and the specific skills needed to live independently on leaving foster care. [CRC 5.502(40).]

tribal customary adoption:  an adoption by and through the tribal custom, traditions, or law of an Indian child’s tribe; an appropriate permanent plan if reunification is unsuccessful, and does not require termination of parental rights. [WIC §§358.1(j), 366.24, 366.26(b)(3) (operative 7/1/2010).]

UCCJEA: the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (FC §3400 et seq.), which might apply when the child has lived out of state, or when another state has exercised jurisdiction over the child.

violent felony under PC §667.5(c):  includes, among other felonies, murder, attempted murder, voluntary manslaughter, mayhem, capital or life offenses, rape, sodomy, oral copulation, lewd acts, continuous sexual abuse, robbery, arson, kidnapping, and carjacking.

visitation:  a noncustodial parent’s time spent with a child who has been removed. Visitation also extends to siblings, grandparents, and de facto parents.

voluntarily surrendered physical custody:  statutory process by which a parent or lawful custodian of a newborn may give up custody of the baby to personnel of emergency rooms or other designated locations. [H&SC §1255.7.]

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