Commonly used DCF words and phrases


"AWOL" or "Absence Without Leave":  AWOL or Absence without Leave or Absence without Official Leave is when a child or adolescent leaves a facility or residence without prior authorization, or doesn't return to the facility at a predetermined and specific time from school, work or an event, a child is classified as AWOL.  This term is different from "run-a-away" status, which is more serious.


"A Person Entrusted with the Care of a Child":  A person entrusted with the care of a child means a person given access to a child by a person responsible for the health, welfare or care of a child for the purpose of providing education, child care, counseling, spiritual guidance, coaching, training, instruction, tutoring or mentoring of such child.


"A Person Given Access to a Child":  A person given access to a child means a person to whom a person responsible for the child’s health, welfare or care or a person entrusted with the care of a child, has given permission to care for the child or has otherwise provided access to the child.


"A Person Responsible for such Child's Health, Welfare or Care":  A person responsible for such child's health, welfare or care means a child's parent, guardian, foster parent, an employee of a public or private residential home, agency or institution or other person legally responsible under general statute for the child's health, welfare or care in a residential setting, or any staff person providing out of home care including child day care, family day care, group day care, and center based day care.


"Absconder":  Absconder is a committed delinquent runaway from any approved placement including home (Absconder from Parole) or is a delinquent placed on probation who runs away from any approved placement including home (Absconder from Probation).


"Administrative Case Review" - aka "ACR":  The purpose of the Administrative Case Review  or ACR is to provide an orderly and structured meeting in which all participants are engaged in discussion focused on meeting the needs of children, including permanency planning. 


"Adolescent Discharge Plan Conference":  Adolescent Discharge Plan Conference.   The Adolescent Specialist shall schedule a conference prior to the finalization of the Adolescent Discharge Plan (DCF-2092).  If the youth is under the age of eighteen (18), the Administrative Case Review (ACR) can take the place of the conference.

Note:  The conference shall be held at a place and time that meet the youth’s needs.


"Adoptable Person":  Adoptable person means a person under the age of eighteen (18) who has not been adopted, but whose birth parents have had their parental rights terminated under the laws of this state


"Adoption" (Various types of adoption); 

  • Relative Adoption is the adoption of a child by a person(s) who is a blood relative descended from a common ancestor not more than three generations removed from the child.
  • Stepparent Adoption is the adoption of a child by a person who, though unrelated, is the spouse of the birth or adoptive parent.
  • Identified Adoption permits adoption placement of children who have been identified or located by prospective adoptive parents.  Regulations 45-63, Sections 1-10 inclusive, implement this statutory change.  If any such placement is not made in accordance with these regulations, the Probate Court will not approve the adoption application.
  • Independent Adoption is an adoption completed between birth parents and adoptive parents with no agency involvement.  This is illegal in Connecticut.
  • Open Adoption is one in which birth parents or extended family members (i.e., grandparents) and adoptive parents meet on a planned basis prior to placement and share identifying information.

"Adoption Support Group":  Adoption Support Group is a group of parents interested in adoption who meet regularly in order to lend mutual support and information to each other.  Please contact CAFAP for a current listing of Connecticut Support Groups:


2189 Silas Deane Highway, Suite 2
Rocky Hill , Connecticut 06067
Phone: 860.258.3400
Toll Free: 1.800.861.8838


"Adult Adoptee or Adopted Person":  Adult adoptee or adopted person means a person over the age of eighteen (18) who was adopted under the laws of this state or who was adopted in another jurisdiction, but whose birth parents have had their parental rights terminated in this state.


"Aftercare":  Aftercare means the care, treatment and services provided a patient, as defined herein, or convalescent status or conditional release.


"Assent":  Assent means an expression of agreement or acceptance.


"Bed Capacity":  Bed capacity is the number of children to be cared for in one particular residence or facility.  The capacity shall be determined by the Department and shall consider the physical aspects of the home and the capacity of the parents providing the care.  When state statutes, administrative regulations or local ordinances limit the number of children to be cared for, such number shall be the maximum.


"Birth Parent":  Birth Parent is a child's biological or genetic parent.


"Bridging":  Bridging is the process by which a child has the security of an old caretaker while getting used to the new one.


"Care or Custody of the Department":  Care or Custody of the Department means committed to or placed with the department under a court order of the Superior Court for Juvenile Matters, excluding delinquency and Family With Service Needs orders.


"Careline":  Careline means the Department of Children and Families’ centralized intake unit which receives all of the reports of child abuse or neglect made to the Department.


"Case":  A case consists of a grouping of individuals, usually a family unit, with at least one member receiving a service from the Department.  The case is usually identified by the name of the primary caretaker of the children; most often, this is the mother.


"Case Participant":  A case participant is any person for whom a record is established because of his/her importance to the case. There are two (2) types of persons who must be made case participants in LINK: all household members and all persons receiving a service as a Department client.


"Central Registry":  The Central Registry or Registry means the record of persons who have been substantiated as persons responsible for an act or acts of child abuse or neglect and whom the Commissioner, based upon a standard of reasonable cause, has determined poses a risk to the health, safety or well-being.


"Certified":   Certified means to be granted permission by the Department to provide out of home care for a related child.


"Certified Relative Care":  Certified Relative Care means care provided for a foster child by a person certified to provide such care pursuant to sections 17a-114-14 to 17a-114-25, inclusive, of the regulations of Connecticut State Agencies.


"Child":  Child means any person under eighteen years of age not related to the parents of a permanent family residence., except as otherwise specified, or any person under twenty-one years of age who is in full time attendance in a secondary school, a technical school, a college or a state accredited job training program

"Child Placing Agency":
  Child-placing agency means an agency, association, corporation, institution, society, or other public or private organization licensed by the Department, to place a child into temporary or permanent care in an out of home care provider family.


"Client":  A client is any family or child receiving services from the Department, including children who are residents or patients in DCF facilities or hospitals.


"Commissioner":  Commissioner means the Commissioner of the Department of Children and Families.


"Committed", "DCF Committed" OR "Committed to";  If a DCF committed youth is placed in foster care; or  a parent of a son or daughter placed in the same foster home.


"Committed Delinquent":  Committed Delinquent is a child or youth who, is committed as a delinquent to the care and custody of the Department.


"Confidentiality":"  The following are some definitions that pertain to confidentiality.  A "person" is any individual named in a record maintained by the Department who: 

  • was previously or is currently a ward of or committed to the Commissioner for any reason
  • received services, voluntarily or involuntarily, from the Department
  • was previously or currently is the subject of an investigation by the Department
  • the parent of a person if the person is a minor, or 
  • the authorized representative of a person, if the person is deceased.
Information and records of a person means any information, including information depicted on videotape, created or obtained in connection with the Department’s child protection activities, or activities related to a child while in the care or custody of the Department, including information in the Central Registry.  All DCF records are confidential and require a signed HIPAA release in order to share any information with entities outside DCF.


"Consent":  Consent is a permission given in writing by a person, his/her attorney or authorized representative to disclose specified information within a limited time period to specifically identified individuals or entities,


"Consent Form":  Consent Form - Form DCF-2065, is used to document the individual’s consent or refusal to share information with the searcher.


"Contraband":  Contraband means weapons, unauthorized drugs (both legal and illegal), and other items which pose a danger to a child or youth or others


"Coterminous Petitions":  Coterminous petitions are filed when the Department is seeking termination of parental rights and the court has not yet adjudicated the child as neglected or uncared for.  The purpose is to move the child more quickly to a permanent home when it has been determined that the parent is not likely to rehabilitate or the child has been abandoned, and/or reasonable efforts to reunify are not required. In cases where no petition is pending, a neglect petition and petition for termination of parental rights and supporting legal documents (including a Motion for an Order of Temporary Custody) are submitted together when filing conterminously. In cases in which a neglect petition is already pending, but has not been adjudicated, the petition for TPR is submitted along with a Motion to Consolidate the neglect proceeding with the TPR proceeding. Once this motion is granted, the case becomes coterminous.  In coterminous cases, the court usually hears and decides the neglect and TPR petitions at the same time.


"DCF":   Department of Children and Families


"Delinquent Juvenile":  Delinquent Juvenile is any juvenile who has been adjudicated delinquent and who, at the time the provisions of this compact are invoked, is still subject to the jurisdiction or supervision of an agency or institution pursuant to an order of such court.


"Department":  Department means the Department of Children and Families.


"Discharge Plan":  The Adolescent Discharge Plan shall be finalized at the last Adolescent Discharge Planning Conference and shall include, but not be limited to:

  • the anticipated date the youth will leave Department care
  • names and contact information for at least three (3) significant family members or other adults in the youth’s network 
  • the youth's anticipated living arrangements
  • an estimated budget
  • sources and amount of income/assets.

Note: The Adolescent Specialist shall document any trust account funds and shall assist the youth in proper financial management of account funds.

  • assistance to be provided by the Department, including specification of aftercare services, to help the youth fulfill any aspect of the plan as well as assistance in obtaining essential documents and records
  • a schedule for meeting with the Adolescent Specialist if the youth chooses to meet 
  • any other plans necessary to facilitate the youth's discharge from care.
  • Important: In the event that discharge from the Department occurs prior to the anticipated date, the written plan must be completed prior to closing the case.  Youth shall receive a discharge plan from the Department even if he/she is terminated for non-compliance with services.  In the event that the youth is not available to meet, the discharge plan shall be mailed to the youth.

"Disclose":  Disclose means to provide an oral summary of records maintained by the Department, or to permit review of, or to provide copies of, records in whole, part, or summary form.

"Disruption":  Disruption is the permanent interruption of an intended adoption between placement and legal completion of adoption.

"Dual Commitment/Dually Committed":  A dual commitment occurs when a child or youth is committed to the Commissioner of DCF for guardianship (Neglect/Uncared For) and also is committed due to a finding of guilt for Delinquency.  The delinquency commitment is for custody only and by law has no impact on the rights/responsibilities inherent to guardianship.


"Educational Jurisdiction":  Educational jurisdiction means the fiscal and programmatic responsibility for the education of a child. Educational jurisdiction may be established by either the residence of the parent, the residence of the child or other special circumstances. Whenever there is a question regarding educational jurisdiction, the Social Worker shall contact the USD #2 Educational Consultant for assistance in the determination.


"Educational Neglect": Educational neglect occurs when a person responsible for the child’s health, welfare or care interferes with the ability of a child age seven (7) to fifteen (15) to receive proper care and attention educationally.   Proper care and attention educationally is the consistent receipt of a program of educational instruction in accordance with C.G.S. §10-184 provided by a public school, a private school or by a person responsible for the child’s health, welfare or care.  A truant is a child enrolled in a public or private school grade kindergarten to eight, inclusive, who has four (4) unexcused absences in any one month or ten (10) unexcused absences in any school year.  A habitual truant is any such child who has twenty (20) unexcused absences in any school year.


"Emergency":  Emergency means any situation in which an immediate threat to the physical or emotional health or welfare of a child or children exists or is suspected.


"Emergency Treatment" or "Emergency Care":  Emergency treatment or emergency care means medical or other health treatment, services, products or accommodations provided to an injured or ill person for a sudden onset of a condition of such nature that failure to render immediate care could:

  • reasonably be expected to result in deterioration of the injured person's condition;
  • reasonably be expected to result in a threat to the person's life, limb or sight; or
  • cause the person to incur painful symptoms requiring immediate attention to relieve suffering.

"Escapee":  Escapee is a committed delinquent runaway from the Connecticut Juvenile Training School (CJTS) or a delinquent runaway from any Connecticut juvenile detention facility.


"Expunge":  Expunge means the deletion from the Department’s computerized system of unsubstantiated reports and investigations five years from the completion of the last unsubstantiated allegation provided that no referrals have been made on the case and there are no other substantiated reports.


"Family Case Conferencing":  Family Case Conferencing is a formal process in which as many interested persons as possible (social worker, attorneys, parents, children, other relatives, foster parents, service providers) are brought together for the purpose of developing resolutions to the issues facing the family.


"Family with Service Needs" - aka "FWSN":  Family With Service Needs (FWSN )  is defined as a case involving a family which includes a child under 17 years of age who:

  • has, without just cause, run away from his/her parental home or other properly authorized and lawful place of abode;
  • is beyond the control of his/her parents, guardians or other custodians;
  • has engaged in indecent or immoral conduct;
  • is a habitual truant, which means a child who is enrolled in a public or private school and has had 20 unexcused absences in a school year;
  • is a truant, which  means a child who is enrolled in a public or private school and has had four unexcused absences in any month or ten or more absences in a school year; 
  • while in school, has been continuously and overtly defiant of school rules and regulations; and/or,
  • is 13 years of age or older and has engaged in sexual intercourse with another person, and such other person is 13 years of age or older and not more than two years older or younger than said child.

"Former Legal Guardian":  Former Legal Guardian means the person(s) who last had legal responsibility for the care and custody of a minor child prior to the current transfer of custody to the Commissioner.


"Foster Care":  Foster Care means care provided for a foster child by a person licensed, approved or certified to provide such care.


"Foster Family":  Foster family means an individual or family licensed, to provide out of home care, hereinafter referred to as a foster family, foster home or foster parent(s).


"Guardian":  Guardian means one who has the authority and obligations of "guardianship" as defined in subdivision (8) of this section.


"Guardian Ad Litem":  Guardian Ad Litem is the person appointed by the court to act in behalf of minor in a legal action.


"Guardianship":  Guardianship means guardianship of the person of a minor, and includes:

  • the obligation of care or control;
  • the authority to make major decisions, affecting the child's welfare, which the child cannot make on his own, including, but not limited to, consent determinations regarding marriage, enlistment in the armed forces and major medical, psychiatric or surgical treatment.

"Handicapped":  Handicapped means a physical disability which would, under ordinary circumstances, require long-term hospitalization or institutionalization.

"Health Care":  Health care means medical, mental health or dental care, procedures and treatment.


"Hearings" or "Hearings Unit":  Hearings Unit means the section within the Department having responsibility for administrative hearings.


"HIPAA":  HIPPA (The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) authorization is the permission granted by the patient or the patient’s guardian to use or disclose protected health information for purposes other than health care operations; e.g., HIV testing, substance abuse screening.  Parties involved with a DCF case must sign a HIPAA release in order for DCF to share information with any other parties involved with the case (i.e., doctors, lawyers, school districts, psychologists, therapists, etc.).


"Independent Evaluation":  Independent Evaluator means a social work professional who provides the hearing officer with a written report, and oral testimony if necessary, with respect to the best interests of the child on issues of permanency planning and future placement.


"Individualized Education Plan (IEP)":  The Department is committed to providing services which will meet the needs of all children and youth. There will be times when traditional services are not sufficient to meet those needs.  In those cases the child or youth may benefit from an Individualized Education Plan .

"Informed Consent":  Informed consent means permission given for a medical procedure or treatment after the parent or legal guardian, and/or child when appropriate, has been provided with an explanation by a qualified health care provider which includes:

  • the nature and seriousness of the diagnosis;
  • the nature of the procedure or treatment;
  • the type of anesthesia to be administered;
  • the expected medical procedures, either before or during treatment, including physical exams, lab tests and EKG;
  • the risks of the treatment or procedure;
  • the expected benefits of the treatment or procedure;
  • any reasonable alternative treatments, other than medication; and
  • the possible common, long-term or infrequent side effects of any suggested medications which may be used in lieu of or in conjunction with the treatment or procedure

"Institution":  Institution means any hospital or other facility maintained by a party state or political sub-division thereof for the care and treatment of mental illness or mental deficiency.


"Interstate Compact":  Interstate Compacts Overview .  The Connecticut Department of Children and Families, Office of Foster Care and Adoption Services, administers four distinct interstate compacts, which are used to facilitate the placement and movement of children across state lines, either into Connecticut or from Connecticut to another state. The four compacts are described below:

  • The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC):   This compact applies to the placement of children into foster care, relative care, adoption, and residential placements into all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and US territories. Connecticut General Statutes (CGS)-17a-175-182.
  • The Interstate Compact on Juveniles (ICJ):   This Compact applies to the placement or movement of youth who are on probation or on parole in their home state, and to non-delinquent run-aways. All 50 states are members. CGS 46b-151-151g.
  • The Interstate Compact on Mental Health (ICMH):  This compact applies to children who are transferred from a public psychiatric facility in one state to the same kind of facility in another state. Not all states are members of this compact. CGS 17a-615-618.
The Interstate Compact on Adoption and Medical Assistance (IACAMA):  This compact applies to children receiving adoption assistance who move with their adoptive families, and ensures that they can receive medical benefits in their new state of residence, provided that this state is a member of this compact. (Forty-four states belong to this compact). CGS 17a-116d-116e.


"Investigation":  The commencement of an investigation occurs when the investigator attempts to make face-to-face contact with the parent or person responsible for the child's care, and/or with the child(ren).  The completion of an investigation occurs when the investigator has interviewed each family member, including the parents, other adults and all children in the home as well as necessary collateral contacts and determines that the report is substantiated or not substantiated.


"Juvenile Delinquent":  Juvenile Delinquent means a child found to have violated:

  • any federal or state law or municipal or local ordinance, other than an ordinance regulating behavior of a child in a family with service needs as defined in section 46b-120 of the Connecticut General Statutes
  • any order of the Superior Court; or,
  • conditions of probation as ordered by the court;
"LGBTQQIA":  Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, Queer, Intersex and Ally. 


"Leave":  Leave means any approved absence of a juvenile delinquent or serious juvenile offender from either a state or private facility with the exception of an absence to attend school.


"Legal Guardianship":  Legal Guardianship is when a parent is removed as guardian of a child and a relative or the Department is appointed as legal guardian. This action is reversible and parents may be reinstated if factors leading to the removal have been satisfactorily resolved.


"Legal Risk Adoption":  Legal Risk Adoption is where a child is placed in adoption with a family, but there is a legal risk that the adoption will not be finalized because the court has not yet rendered a final decision on Termination of Parental Rights or the decision has been appealed.


"Licensed":  Licensed means to be granted a department permit, certificate, approval or other form of permission required under law.


"Local Education Agency" or "LEA":  Local Education Agency or LEA means a local or regional Board of Education.  Responsible LEA means the local education agency charged with ensuring that the child receives appropriate education services.  The responsible LEA is also referred to as the “LEA of jurisdiction.”


"Mechanical Restraint":  Mechanical restraint means any externally applied mechanical device which limits the voluntary movement of a child or youth.


"Mediation":  Mediation is a formal process by which one or more trained facilitators assists the parties to a case in reaching an agreement on a contested issue(s).


"Mental Deficiency":  Mental deficiency means mental deficiency as defined by appropriate clinical authorities to such an extent that a person so afflicted is incapable of managing himself/herself and their affairs, but shall not include mental illness as defined herein.


"Mental Illness":  Mental illness means mental disease to such an extent that a person so afflicted requires care and treatment for his/her own welfare, or the welfare of others, or of the community.


"Minor Child":  Minor or child or Minor Child means any person under the age of 18, except where noted.


"Necessary Health Care":Necessary health care means medical, mental health or dental care that is not emergent but that would adversely affect the child's health if not provided within a reasonable time, as determined by a qualified health care provider.


"Nexus of Child":  Nexus means the town in which the child's parent or guardian resides.


"No Nexus":  No-nexus means the status applied to a child if one or more of the following criteria are applicable to each parent or guardian of the child:

  • parental rights have been terminated;
  • the parent or guardian is deceased; 
  • the whereabouts of the parent or guardian are unknown;
  • the parent or guardian does not live in Connecticut;
  • the parent or guardian resides as a patient in a treatment facility and does not maintain a Connecticut residence; or
  • the parent or guardian resides as an inmate in a correctional facility and does not maintain a Connecticut residence.

"One to One Staffing":  One-to-one staffing means the assignment of one staff person to provide individualized therapeutic support and supervision for one specifically identified child, in order to insure child safety and well-being.  One-to-one staffing coverage is used in an emergency situation for a child/youth who exhibits suicidal behavior, aggressive acting out or other at risk behavior, or when nursing/medical care is required as the result of serious physical injury.


"Open Adoption": An open adoption is one in which birth parents or extended family members (i.e., grandparents) and adoptive parents meet on a planned basis prior to placement and share identifying information.


"Order of Temporary Custody" aka "OTC":  An Order of Temporary Custody or OTC with a Neglect Petition is an ex parte order by a judge that is granted to the Department to safeguard the immediate safety of a child without a hearing. When granted by the judge, the OTC vests the care and custody of the child concerned in the person or agency (usually the Department) named in the OTC pending the adjudication on the merits of the neglect petition. The OTC does not transfer legal guardianship of the child or affect parental rights except as to physical custody. An ex parte order is an order that is granted immediately and for the benefit of one party only and without notice to, or an opportunity to contest by, any person adversely affected by the order.  When a Motion for Order of Temporary Custody is filed with the neglect petition, then the filing of the OTC is also the beginning of the first phase of the neglect proceeding.


"Out of Home Care Provider":  Out of home care provider means a prospective adoptive family, foster family or permanent family residence providing board and care for a child, hereinafter referred to as an out of home care provider or provider.


"Outpatient Psychiatric Clinic":  Outpatient Psychiatric Clinic for Children” or “Clinic” means a community-based children’s mental health facility which provides mental health services to children and adolescents under eighteen years of age and their families.  These services are designed to:  

  • promote mental health and improve functioning in children, youth and families; and
  • effectively decrease the prevalence and incidence of mental illness, emotional disturbance and social dysfunctioning.
  • responsibility for diagnostic and treatment services is vested in a multi-disciplinary team comprised of psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, marriage and family therapists or other mental health professionals.

Supervision of clinical services may be provided by a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker or marriage and family therapist with appropriate child experience and state licensing.  Services shall include but not be limited to diagnostic evaluation, psychological testing, family, group and individual therapies, medication services, crisis or emergency interventions.

These clinics shall make every effort to respond flexibly and be accessible to their client population, as well as to work in collaboration with schools, the child welfare system, and other child caring agencies.  Services are provided to the general public without bias because of race, sex, ethnicity, religion, or sexual preference and are culturally competent.


"Parents" :  Parents means the adult persons, or upon the approval of the Commissioner one adult person providing permanent family residence services.


"Parole" (or "Probation"):  Parole (or Probation ) means any kind of conditional release of juveniles authorized under the laws of the states party hereto.  In Connecticut , "Parole Services" for committed delinquents equals "Parole."


"Patient":  Patient means any person subject to or eligible as determined by the laws of the sending state, for institutionalization or other care, treatment or supervision pursuant to the provisions of this Compact.


"Permanency Planning":  Permanency Planning clarifies the intent of the placement by committing to a plan which will eventually provide a permanent home for a child.

"Permanency Planning Team": 
The Permanency Planning Team shall include the child's treatment worker and supervisor, adoption specialists, CARE worker, a regional manager and others as appropriate, who are knowledgeable and experienced in selecting adoptive parents or who are knowledgeable about the child.

"Permanent Family Residence":
Permanent family residence means two adult persons, or upon the approval of the Commissioner - one adult person, agency, association, corporation, institution, society, or other organization licensed by the Department to provide permanent care to handicapped children in a home environment and family setting.


"Person Substantiated as a Person Responsible for Abuse or Neglect":  Means an individual determined by the Department to be responsible for:

  • abuse, including physical injury or injuries inflicted upon a child other than by accidental means, or injuries that are at variance with the history given of them, or maltreatment such as, but not limited to, malnutrition, sexual molestation, deprivation of necessities, emotional maltreatment or cruel punishment; or,
  • neglect of a child including abandonment or denial of proper care and attention, physically, educationally, emotionally or morally of a child or permitting a child to live under conditions, circumstances or associations injurious to his well-being, or has been abused;

"Prevailing Foster Care Rate":  Prevailing Foster Care Rate means the rate the child would be receiving if the child were still in foster care, taking into account the child's age and special-needs, as adjusted based on the asset test of the child as prescribed in section 17a-126-6 of the regulations of Connecticut State Agencies.


"Private Residential Program":  Private Residential Program means a congregate living setting licensed or approved by the Department for out of home placement of children including juvenile delinquents and serious juvenile offenders.


"Probation" or "Parole":  Probation or Parole means any kind of conditional release of juveniles authorized under the laws of the states party hereto.  In Connecticut , "Probation Services" for committed delinquents equals "Parole."


"Prospective Adoptive Family":  Prospective Adoptive family means an individual or family licensed, pursuant to section 17a-145 of the Connecticut General Statutes, or approved pursuant to section 17a-150 of the Connecticut General Statutes, for adoption placement, hereinafter referred to as a prospective adoptive family, prospective adoptive home or prospective adoptive parent(s).


"Protective Services":  Protective Services means ongoing case management services provided by the Department after complaints of abuse or neglect, with or without the assumption of jurisdiction by a court.


"Protective Supervision":  Protective Supervision is one of several alternative dispositions available to a Judge after an adjudication of neglect or uncared for is entered.  Protective supervision is defined under Conn. Gen. Stat. §17a-93(i) as: 

  • “A status created by Court order following adjudication of neglect whereby a child's place of abode is not changed but assistance directed at correcting the neglect is provided at the request of the Court through the DCF or such other social agency as the Court may specify.”
  • The essential difference between Protective Supervision and Protective Services is that there is no court involvement when services are provided by the Department under the rubric of Protective Services.
  • An order of protective supervision allows for continued court involvement with a particular case when the circumstances do not warrant removal of the children, but they do require continued court scrutiny to ensure the safety of the children and compliance by the parent/guardian.
  • The imposition of an order of protective supervision with court-ordered Specific Steps  provides the parent or guardian with a final chance at improving the children's lives without removing them from the parent/guardian's care.  At the dispositional hearing, the judge clearly explains that the court can and will change the disposition to commitment if the parent or guardian does not comply with the Specific Steps.

"Qualified Health Care Provider":  Qualified health care provider means a physician or other health care professional licensed by the Department of Public Health or accredited or certified to perform specified health services consistent with state law. Examples include but are not limited to the following: medical doctors, doctors of osteopathy, psychologists, nurses, advanced practice registered nurses, physical therapists and occupational therapists.


"Receiving State":  The Receiving State is a party state to which a patient is transported pursuant to the provisions of the Compact or to which it is contemplated that a patient may be so sent.


"Related":  Related means a relative, by blood, marriage or adoption descended from a common ancestor not more than three generations removed from said child.


"Relative Caregiver":  Relative Caregiver means a person who is caring for a child related to such person because the parent of the child has died or become otherwise unable to care for the child for reasons that make reunification with the parent not a viable option within the foreseeable future.


"Release":  Release means a discharge from either a state or private facility to the care and supervision of a parent, legal guardian or other responsible adult, which has been ordered by the juvenile court or approved by the commissioner without expectation of return of the juvenile delinquent or serious juvenile offender to the facility.


"Removal Hearing":  Removal hearing means an administrative proceeding conducted to determine if the removal of a child from an out of home care provider is in the child's best interest.


"Respite Care Provider":  A respite care provider is:

  • a licensed foster or pre-adoptive parent in good standing who does not have a placement or who is under the licensed bed capacity; or
  • a person who is not licensed but who has completed a Department approved authorization process to provide respite care, as specified in Policy 41-25-7.1, “Authorization to Provide Respite Care”; or
  • a relative, friend or other individual who is not licensed, or who has not completed the Department’s respite care authorization process, but who has been approved by the child’s Social Worker.
  • The child’s Social Worker must complete Protective Service and State and local police background checks of an individual who is not a Department licensed or authorized provider.
  • Overnight respite care provided by a person who is not a Department licensed or authorized provider must take place in the licensed foster parent’s home.
"Restraint":  Restraint means any measure that restricts the movement of the child.
"Routine Care":  Routine care means well-child care in accordance with the Early and Periodic Screening and Diagnostic Treatment (EPSDT) service which focuses on health maintenance supervision, behavioral and developmental pediatrics and dental care, and includes routine health screenings to assess general health and to look for signs of health problems. A primary health care provider providing routine care should ensure that the child is up-to-date with routine vaccinations and screening exams, which may include:

  • check-ups and tests;
  • immunizations;
  • assessment of health risks; and
  • healthy lifestyle counseling.

 Note:  For children with complex medical needs, routine care may include more extensive testing and evaluations.

"Runaway": A runaway is a non-delinquent child under sixteen (16) years of age who ran away from a facility or provider.  The facility or provider is required to contact police and file a report when a child is on runaway status.  Runaway status is more serious than AWOL status, and the police actively search for a child on run-a-away status.

"Seclusion":  Seclusion means isolation from the general population of an institution of the Commissioner enforced by a locked door.

"Sending State":  Sending State is a party state from which a patient is transported pursuant to the provisions of the Compact or from which it is contemplated that a patient may be so sent.

"Serious Juvenile Offender":  Serious Juvenile Offender means any child convicted as delinquent for commission of a serious juvenile offense as defined in section 46b-120 of the Connecticut General Statutes.


"Sexual Abuse":  Sexual abuse. The term sexual abuse is used when:

  • the perpetrator is the child’s parent, guardian, or caretaker; or an adult family member or household member, or
  • there is medical evidence or indication of sexual abuse but no indication of perpetrator identity.

A caretaker is an individual in whose care a biological or adoptive parent or legal guardian has left a child on an extended basis, and who exercises parental authority in the capacity of a guardian.


"Sexual Assault":  The term sexual assault is used when the perpetrator is someone other than:

  • the perpetrator is the child’s parent, guardian, or caretaker; or an adult family member or household member, or
  • there is medical evidence or indication of sexual abuse but no indication of perpetrator identity.

"Sexual Harassment":  Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination and is prohibited by federal and state law.  Sexual harassment is unwanted and unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature directed at a person, including a student or a student's parent, which interferes with a student’s right to learn, study, work, achieve or participate in school activities in a comfortable and supportive atmosphere.  Sexual harassment can occur male to female, female to male, female to female, or male to male.  Sexual harassment can involve students, parents, DCF staff, and other persons given access to students including interns, volunteers, vendors, independent contractors, practicum students or researchers. 


Note:  Not all instances of the types of conduct listed above will constitute sexual harassment in the educational setting.  The behavior and context must fit within the legal definition of sexual harassment as envisioned in Title IX. However, even if the conduct is not sexual harassment under Title IX, it may violate other federal or state laws, or agency policy, or facility rules, and the accused may still be subject to sanctions, including discipline.


"Sibling": Sibling means a full, half- or step-brother or sister of an eligible child.

"Special Needs Child": 
A Special Needs Child is defined in CT GEN. STAT. §17a-116 as a child who is difficult to place in adoption because of one or more conditions including, but not limited to:

  • physical or mental disability
  • serious emotional maladjustment
  • a recognized high risk of physical or mental disability
  • age, racial or ethnic factors which present a barrier to adoption
  • is a member of a sibling group which should be place together
  • and the child established significant emotional ties between prospective adoptive parents while the child was in their care as a foster child.

Also, the child has to be certified as a special needs child by the Commissioner of the Department of Children and Families.


"Statutory Parent":  When the Probate Court grants a Petition for Termination of Parental Rights (TPR) it names the Department the statutory parent.  It is the status of a statutory parent that then gives the Department the authority to place the child for adoption.  There is an appeal procedure from the decision of the Probate Court if the parent(s) change their minds.


"Structured Decision Making" - aka "SDM":  Structured Decision Making (SDM ™) is the current assessment model on which the Connecticut Department of Children and Families bases its practice.  SDM is designed to improve child safety outcomes, and provide assessment tools designed to complement professional judgment.  The SDM assessment tools are used from the moment allegations of harm about a child are reported to the Department to when the child and their family exit the child protection system.


"Subsidized Adoption":  Subsidized Adoption is a means by which special needs children can be placed in adoption through financial assistance. The child must meet the standards to be determined "special needs" and the adopting family must meet the standards of any adopting family, except that it is unable to assume complete financial responsibility for the child's care. The types of subsidy are:

  • Financial Subsidy - An agreed-upon monthly payment to an adoptive family within the guidelines of current foster care rates.
  • Medical Subsidy - Title XIX coverage for the adoptive child or in some special cases, a lump sum payment.

"Subsidized Guardian":  Subsidized Guardian means a person to whom legal guardianship has been awarded and who qualifies for a reimbursement subsidy while providing said guardianship.


"Substantiated":  Substantiated means that the Department has found after investigation that there is reasonable cause to believe that child abuse or neglect has occurred and that a specific person is the person responsible for a given act of child abuse or neglect.


"Surrogate Parent":  Surrogate parent means a person appointed by the Commissioner of the State Department of Education (SDE) when the child is between 3 and 21 years of age or by the Director of the Birth to Three Program of the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) when the child is younger than three years and otherwise qualified. The surrogate parent serves as the child’s advocate in the educational decision-making process in place of the child’s parent or guardian.


"Termination of Parental Rights" - aka "TPR" or "TPR'd":  Termination of Parental Rights or TPR or TPR'd  is the complete severance by court order of the legal relationship, with all its rights and responsibilities, between the child and the parent(s) so that the child is free for adoption except it shall not affect the rights of inheritance of the child or the religious affiliation of the child until the child is adopted.


"Therapeutic Foster Care" - aka "TFC":  

  • is a family-based treatment option for children with social/emotional/psychological issues
  • is intended to be a "bridge" to a permanent placement
  • is not appropriate for every child and is therefore not an "emergency" program.
  • Children may receive services at either of these two levels:
    • basic therapeutic level
    • intensive therapeutic level.

"Transcultural Adoption":  Transcultural Adoption is when children are placed in adoption in a home of a different culture than their own.


"Transracial Adoption":  Transracial Adoption is when children are placed in adoption in a home of a different race than their own.


"Treatment":  Treatment is the provision of ongoing social work services to a family when an investigation has determined that abuse, neglect, and/or threatened harm has been substantiated.

"Uncared for":  A child or youth may be found "uncared for" who is homeless or whose home cannot provide the specialized care that the physical emotional or mental condition of the child or youth requires.  For the purposes of this section, the treatment of any child or youth by and accredited Christian Science practitioner, in lieu of treatment by a licensed practitioner of the healing arts, shall not of itself constitute neglect or maltreatment Sec 46b-120(8).

"Uniform Case Record":  The Uniform Case Record consists all information recorded in LINK concerning the case.


"Voluntary Admission":  Voluntary Admission means a child or youth afforded access, on a non-compulsory basis, to services offered or administered by or under contract with, or otherwise available to the Department.


"Voluntary Services":  Voluntary Services means the provision of the services offered or administered by, or under contract with, or otherwise available to the Department to a child or youth granted voluntary admission.