The Alphabet Soup of Foster Care Acronyms


When you first become a foster parent and become involved in the foster care industry, there are a number of acronyms you need to know to keep from getting confused by the alphabet soup. If you are part of my private Facebook group for foster parents, you will be seeing many of these acronyms in posts in the community.

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THE MOST IMPORTANT FOSTER CARE ACRONYMS TO KNOW:

AD – Adopted Daughter – (used in forums and my private Facebook group for foster parents) – Can also have a number behind it to designate the child’s age.

ADD – Attention Deficit Disorder – This is what ADD looks like in the classroom through the eyes of a child.

ADHD – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder – Here are some ideas for toys to get your active child.

AS – Adopted Son (used in forums and my private Facebook group for foster parents) – Can also have a number behind it to designate the child’s age.

BD – Birth Dad or Bio-Dad – (used in forums and my private Facebook group for foster parents)

BF – Birth Family or Bio-Family – (used in forums and my private Facebook group for foster parents)

BM – Birth Mother or Bio-Mom – (used in forums and my private Facebook group for foster parents)

CASA – Court Appointed Special Advocate – a person appointed by the court to advocate for abused or neglected children. Read more about the CASA volunteer organization.

CPS – Child Protective Services – a governmental agency in many US states responsible for investigating reports of abuse and neglect of children.

CW – Case Worker

DSS – Department of Social Services – state agency that is in charge of social programs, including those for children in foster care.

ED – Emotionally Disturbed – term defined in US Federal law used for children with such severe emotional problems that adversely affects their ability to learn in an educational setting.

FAS – Fetal Alcohol Syndrome – the most severe type of FASD in which affected children exhibit certain facial features such as small eye openings, a thin upper lip, and a smooth philtrum (the groove between nose and upper lip).

Photo courtesy AAFP

Photo courtesy AAFP

FASD – Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder – the physical, neurological and mental birth defects caused by a woman’s consumption of alcohol during pregnancy.

FD – Foster Daughter – (used in forums and my private Facebook group for foster parents) – Can also have a number behind it to designate the child’s age.

FMLA – Family Medical Leave Act – United States federal law requiring larger employers to provide employees unpaid leave for serious health conditions, to care for a sick family member, or to care for a newborn or adopted or foster child.

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FS – Foster Son – (used in forums and my private Facebook group for foster parents) – Can also have a number behind it to designate the child’s age.

FTT – Failure to Thrive – Underdevelopment and lack of growth in a child. Symptoms include: Height, weight, and head circumference below standard growth charts. Weight is lower than 3rd percentile of standard growth charts.

GAL – Guardian Ad Litem – a person appointed by the court to represent the “best interest of the child”

HIPAA – Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act – Federal law that make it easier for people to keep health insurance, protect the confidentiality and security of healthcare information

ICAMA – Interstate Compact on Adoption and Medical Assistance – an agreement between state that ensures continued provision of all of the benefits of an adoption subsidy agreement, including Medicaid services, regardless of the state of residence of the child,

ICPC – Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children – a statutory agreement between all 50 states that governs the placement of children from one state into another state. It sets forth the requirements that must be met before a child can be placed out of state,

ICWA – Indian Child Welfare Act – Federal law that regulates custody and placement of Native American children not only in foster care, but also in adoption proceedings. The law gives preference to a child’s extended family or to a member of the child’s tribe over a non-Native American adoptive parent.

IDEA – Individuals with Disabilities Education Act – US Federal law that requires schools to provide students with a disability an education that is tailored to their individual special needs.

IEP – Individualized Educational Plan – an individualized document that is required for a child who receives special education services and is designed to address each child’s unique learning issues and include specific educational goals.

MAPP – Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting – training approach to help prospective foster and adoptive parents make the decision to pursue foster parenting or adoption. (13 states use this training model)

ODD – Oppositional Defiant Disorder – A disorder in a child marked by defiant and disobedient behavior to authority figures.

OHI – Other Health Impairment – a chronic condition that causes struggles in the classroom, such as ADD, ADHD, epilepsy, Tourette syndrome.

PRIDE – Parent Resources for Information, Development, and Education – training for foster, adoptive, and kinship parents. (Texas, Illinois, and New Jersey use this training program)

PS-MAPP – Partnering for Safety and Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting – training approach to help prospective foster and adoptive parents make the decision to pursue foster parenting or adoption. (Florida and Massachusetts uses this training program)

RAD – Reactive Attachment Disorder –  a condition found in children who may have received grossly negligent care and do not form a healthy emotional attachment with their primary caregivers — usually their mothers — before age 5, Here are 22 signs of Reactive Attachment Disorder.

RT – Residential Treatment – a live-in facility that provides mental health and behavioral treatment. How you know it’s time for Residential Treatment.

SLP – Speech Language Pathologist

SW – Social Worker

TIPS-MAPP – Trauma Informed Partnering for Safety and Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting – training approach to help prospective foster/adoptive parents understand the commitment to bring traumatized children into their home. (Kansas uses this teaching model)

TPR – Termination of Parental Rights – an involuntary legal removal of a parent’s rights to their children through the judicial system

WIC – Women, Infants and Children – Federal program that provides vouchers for food and formula for infants and children under 5 years old. Foster children are automatically eligible.

If you are a foster or adoptive parent, we’d love to have you join our private Facebook community to ask questions from others who have been there. You don’t have to go this journey alone!

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