Important Terms and Abbreviations
The Administration for Children, Youth and Families is a division of the Department of Economic Security. CPS belongs to this division.
Arizona Department of Corrections
Attorney General. In a dependency, the AG is the attorney representing DCS.
Arizona Long Term Care System: This is the part of AHCCCS that provides long-term care for eligible people unable to care for themselves.
Arizona Revised Statutes: This is the collection of Arizona’s laws. The state legislature crafts the statutes and the courts interpret them.
Arizona Young Adult Program: This is a program of CPS. Youth 15 years old and old-er can participate in this program to learn independent living skills in preparation for living independently
Arizona Early Intervention Program. A program that is offered for children aged 0-3 and does a thorough assessment to ensure children in this age range are developmentally on target. If they are not, AZEIP can provide speech therapy, occupational therapy or physical therapy to help the child.
Court Appointed Special Advocate
Child Family Team Meeting. This is conducted by the behavioral health agency your child is enrolled in. The member of the team includes you as the parent, the DCS CM, counselors, behavioral health case managers, and any other supportive people whom you or the other team members may invite.
Case manager. This can include your DCS case manager, but behavioral health agencies also have case managers.
Comprehensive Medical and Dental Plan. An AHCCCS Funded health insurance program that is provided to children who in foster care
Department of Child Services: This is the Division of the Department of Economic Security that is responsible for the safety of children.
Division of Developmental Disabilities. An agency that falls under the Department of Economic Security umbrella. DDD provides services for children and adults who have specific needs. These needs include autism, cerebral palsy, cognitive/intellectual disability or epilepsy.
Domestic Violence. Any type of behavior which can be threatening, violent or abusive. This is not limited to physical abuse and can include emotional or verbal abuse, psychological abuse, financial or sexual abuse.
Foster Care Review Board. The FCRB is a group of volunteers who review each case in which a child is in an out of home placement. The FCRB reviews the case, speaks with the DCS CM, the family, the parents, and anyone else who wishes to attend the meeting. The FCRB then writes a report that provides recommendations to the Judge.
Guardian ad Litem. A court appointed attorney whose job is to represent the best interests of the person they are appointed to. A guardian can be appointed to adults or children whom the Court believes need additional support while going through the legal process. A GAL differs from an attorney because they represent what is in their client’s best interests while an attorney represents the client’s wishes to the court.
Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children. If children who are in the custody of DCS are to be placed with a relative out of state, and ICPC needs to be initiated by the DCS CM. Each state has an ICPC office, and states coordinate with each other to ensure children are placed in safe and stable homes.
Indian Child Welfare Act. When families are registered members of a Native American Tribe, certain laws are in place to protect Native American Families, which DCS must follow.
Individual Education Plan. A specific plan to ensure a child with special needs has their educational needs met.
Preliminary Protective Conference and Preliminary Protective Hearing. The Conference is held just before the Hearing. This is the first case in a dependency action. The court reaffirms the temporary legal custody orders, approves the draft case plan, and enters any needed orders regarding placement, visitation, or services.
Seriously Mentally Ill. This is a designation given to people who have severe mental illnesses and can qualify for specific services from the mental health system.
Temporary Aid for Needy Families: This is cash assistance to families. It was formerly known as AFDC or simply welfare.
Temporary Custody Notice. A form that is given to a parent or guardian when a child is removed by DCS.
Team Decision Meeting. This is a meeting that is held by DCS. It is facilitated by a DCS staff member who is not involved in your case. Parents, the DCS CM, children, foster placement, supportive family members and behavioral health providers are all invited to attend. TDM’s are typically held at the very beginning of the case when DCS makes a decision that they may need to remove a child, or they already have removed a child. A TDM is also held at other times in the case such as when DCS feels it is time to change the case plan to something other than reunification, or when DCS wants to create a reunification transition.
Physical, sexual or emotional injury, including situations where the parent or person having custody or control of child knew, or should have known about risks to the child and failed to act to protect the child from another person’s abuse.
Failing to maintain contact with a child or to provide reasonable support.
An admission takes place when a parent agrees in court that the statements made in the dependency petition are true. Deciding to do an admission is a legal decision that parents make after working with their attorneys.
An adjudication occurs when the judge formally determines (finds) that the children are dependent children and are unable to remain in their parents’ legal and/or physical custody. A dependent child is found to be dependent upon the State for the oversight of their safety and well being.
This is a term used when anyone involved in the case has an initial appointment with a service provider. Assessments are generally done so the provider and the case manager will have an idea of what services to offer the child or family. Clients may be asked to participate in several assessments.
This is a group of formal supports (professionals such as therapists, probation officers, case managers) and natural supports (such as family members, friends, teachers, ministers) who are working with the family that has mental health issues as one of their challenges. The goal is to develop plans with the family that will assist in the present and also for the long term. Specially trained staff from the behavioral health field facilitate Child and Family Teams.
This is a term used by Child Protective Services when they are preparing a case plan for children who have been removed from their parents and are now in foster care. Concurrent planning allows case managers to look for people who will be able to keep the children permanently should the parents be unable to complete their case plans and have their children returned to them. Concurrent planning does not mean the case manager will no longer help the parents or provide services and attempt to reunify the family. Concurrent planning allows for both outcomes to be worked on at the same time.
Contempt is the intentional disobedience of a court order. Contempt is punishable by incarceration, fine, or community service if the person fails to follow the Court’s orders.
Having control over the care of a minor (physical and legal). Physical custody includes the right to have physical placement of the child and the duty to provide for the child’s normal daily needs. Legal custody is the right to make the major decisions for a child (medical, educational, etc.).
This is the same as permission. When the judge gives the Department/CPS discretion to make decisions on issues like visitation and placement, the judge is giving the Department the permission to make the decision and implement it without further approval of the Court.
Department of Economic Security (DES). Child Protective Services is a part of DES and you will hear judges and attorneys refer to CPS as “the Department.”
Child is “dependent” under the law when a court finds that one of these reasons exists:
The child needs proper and effective parental care and control and doesn’t have a parent or guardian willing or able to provide this care.
The child is not provided with the necessities of life such as food, clothing, shelter, or medical care.
The child is subject to abuse, neglect, cruelty, or depravity by a person caring for them.
Certain children who have committed criminal acts who can’t be tried for those acts in a delinquency proceeding also fall within the definition.
The legal document asking the court to become involved. It contains statements of facts intended to support the allegations that a minor has no parent able or willing to adequately provide for his/her needs.
Formally saying you disagree with the statements or allegations set forth in the Petition.
Not protecting a child from harm. A parent or guardian who knew there was a risk, or should have known that there was a risk, and yet did not intervene to ensure the child’s safety.
A voluntary program through the Juvenile Court intended for parents who want a high-er level of supervision and services in order to remain clean and sober. The Family Drug Court Judge reviews these cases on a more frequent basis than the Dependency Judge.
These are statements that indicate that the judge has reviewed certain aspects of the case (placement, services, the case plan, the efforts of CPS, the efforts of the parents) and has made decisions on how things are going or ought to go. The court record and the minute entry reflect what the judge makes as his or her findings.
Person other than a parent with the legal authority to make decisions for a child. Guardianships ordered through the Probate Court are sometimes called Title 14 guard-ianships or voluntary guardianships. Title 14 guardianships can be revoked by the par-ents in a special court proceeding.
Guardianships ordered through the Juvenile Court are called Title 8 guardianships or permanent guardianships. In some cases, a permanent guardianship is an alternative for permanency when children cannot be returned to their parents. Only the Court can revoke a permanent guardianship.
This is an interagency meeting between CPS and the Juvenile Probation Department held to evaluate and coordinate appropriate services for minors who are delinquent and maybe dependent.
Kids Care is a part of AHCCCS. This program provides health insurance to low-income families who earn too much to qualify for AHCCCS.
A process of working together with various parties in a case to make decisions and plans that all can support as being in the best interests of the children. Topics for mediation can be visitation, placement, services, or other topics as identified by the parties. A trained mediator is present to assist the parties in their negotiations.
This is a summary of what happens at each court hearing. Minute entries also list all the decisions, ORDERS and FINDINGS that the judge made at that hearing. They include the next court date and time as well.
This is a legal term used to indicate a formal request to the Court asking the Court to take some specific action, for example, to enter an ORDER or to set a hearing.
Failing to provide proper or effective parenting for a child; failing to provide a child with necessities, including food, clothing, shelter or health care; failing to provide a safe environment.
This is when a person agrees that the Petitioner could prove the allegations being made in the petition without actually saying that he or she admits that they are true. The judge will treat the case as if the allegations were true
A formal written direction given by a judge. If the court orders a person to do something or to NOT do something and the person fails to comply with the order, the judge can have the person arrested and or fined. Case plans are approved by the judge therefore the parents or other people involved in the case are ORDERED to complete the items set out in the case plan.
This is an order given by a judge intended to help keep people safe. These are often used in cases where there is a history of violence or when there is a serious custody issue. Juvenile Court judges do not routinely issue Orders of Protection although they may enter No Contact Orders regarding parties in a case.
The natural or adoptive mother or father of a child
People involved in the case that are recognized by the court as legal participants in the case such as the mother, father, child, and CPS. Being a family member or a placement for a child does not automatically make a person a party to the case.
The legal establishment of a man as the father of a child. Children born to married couples are considered the legal children of the husband. Children born to unmarried parents must have paternity established by birth certificate, by signing a legal affidavit, or by DNA testing.
The overall goal for the child which involves a stable, unchanging placement which provides for the child’s safety and fundamental needs - physical, emotional, educational, medical, social and so forth.
See Dependency Petition above for more information.
The primary caregiver of the child is called the placement. Placement can be with a parent, with a relative, with a foster family, in a group home or in a childcare agency, or any appropriate person as approved by the Court.
This assessment is performed by a Psychologist and is generally in two separate parts. The first part is a very long “fill in the blank” and “fill in the bubble” set of questions. There are no right or wrong answers to these questions. The psychologist uses the answers to determine what areas the client may need help in. The second half of this assessment is a meeting with the psychologist. This may take place once, or several times depending on the psychologist seeing you. Afterward, the psychologist prepares a report with recommendations for what services would be helpful to the client and his or her family.
These assessments are performed by a psychiatrist and may be recommended if the psychologist feels there is a reason to suspect issues such as severe depression, anxiety disorders or other psychiatric concerns. One major difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist is that the psychiatrist is a medical doctor who can pre-scribe medications that address these problems.
This is the term used by the judge and the attorneys when they are discussing whether or not Child Protective Services has made adequate efforts to help the family overcome the reasons the children were removed.
Having children return to the care of the parent/s or legal guardian from whom they were removed or to their other legal parent if the parents are not together as a couple.
legal proceeding that may result in a parent’s rights and responsibilities to a child being ended. The termination of a parent’s rights can happen as the outcome of a trial or come about because a parent voluntarily relinquishes his or her parental rights.
Sexual offenses toward children under the age of 18.
These are volunteers from the community that are called upon when a child needs any kind of special educational services in a school setting. Case managers are not able to sign any special education paperwork.
Trial rights include the right to have an attorney, the right to make the State prove the allegations, the right to have witnesses testify for you and the right for your attorney to cross-examine the other side’s witnesses. There are other rights not included here.
A child is considered a ward of the court once the judge has granted CPS or another party legal custody over the child.