Acronyms and Definitions

Selected Acronyms and Terms defined for your convenience.

In most government agencies and specialized fields, acronyms are widely used, and industry specific definitions apply to many words. We will do our best to keep this page updated with frequently used acronyms, terms, and strange definitions.

Kiddo/Kiddos:  Apparently the term adopted by DHS and foster parents to endearingly refer to the foster children in their care.

The System:  Short hand for DHS and “in care of the state”.  If a child is said to be “in The System”, they are in the care of the state and DHS.

Non-Relative Foster Parent: These are certified foster parents who are caring for children that they have no biological or extended family relationship with. Children are placed with non-relative foster parents when no relatives of the child can be located who would be capable of caring for the child.

Relative Care Giver: When a child enters into the care of DHS, if at all possible, DHS tries to place the child with a relative who is capable of caring for the child.  A relative could be a close grandparent or could be a distant extended family member who DHS tracks down. Relative Care Givers are required to complete all of the same training, certifications, and background checks as a Non-Relative Foster Parents, but do to the circumstances typically surrounding a placement with a relative, they typically are provided an emergency certification. This comes with the understanding that they will complete all required training within a predetermined time frame.

Emergency Certification: This is a temporary certification that allows a child to be placed with a foster family that is not currently certified.  This is typically provided to relative care givers who offer to take in a relative child in need, but are not certified foster parents at the time of need.  The emergency certification is for a set period of time, typically 6-months or 12-months, and the situation is re-evaluated after that period. Emergency certification can also occur if there is a desperate need to place children in foster homes, and a family is close to completing the certification process. This requires that the emergency certification is recommended by the certifier and approved by a supervisor.

Case Worker (CW): In social work, a caseworker is a type of social worker who is employed by DHS to take on the cases of individuals and provide them with advocacy, information or other services. Children who come into care of DHS are assigned a caseworker, and the caseworker interacts with the bio-family, the foster family, the children, the lawyers and judges, and is the main point of contact for the case.

Foster Home Certifier (Certifier):  The Certifier is the DHS employee who is responsible for approving foster parents and foster homes after they complete the Foundations Training.  The Certifier conducts the interviews associated with the SAFE Home Study and completes the home inspection prior to approval.  Following the certification of a foster family, the certifier is the communication conduit between DHS caseworkers and the foster families, they call the foster families and provide the information available for possible placements.

Department of Human Services (DHS): The Department of Human Services (DHS) is Oregon’s principal agency for helping Oregonians achieve wellbeing and independence through opportunities that protect, empower, respect choice and preserve dignity, especially for those who are least able to help themselves.

Women, Infants, and Children (WIC): The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides Federal grants to States for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk.

Respite: Technically defined as a short period of rest or relief from something difficult. In relation to foster care, respite, or respite care is basically babysitting provided by a person or family that have been approved by DHS to have foster children in their home on a routine basis, overnight, or for extended duration.  Respite care providers must complete background checks to be approved providers by DHS.

Structured Analysis Family Evaluation (SAFE) Home Study: SAFE is a home study protocol that is used by Oregon DHS and other states. It provides prescribed questions to ask potential foster parents during interviews, as well as specifics for what Certifiers should look for as they complete home inspections.

Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) Assessment: An assessment of a child which aims to identify that child’s needs based on current and past trauma, disease and illness, and developmental delay. The needs identified are used to develop a plan to provide support to the child to encourage success. DHS requires a CANS assessment be completed for every child within 60 days of entering the system.  CANS assessments can be updated following changes in behavior or circumstances.

Photo: Sabrina* playing in her room.
*all names have been changed to protect the innocent


Author: Aaron @ Modern Foster Family

Just a person writing about his crazy/beautiful journey as a foster parent with his amazing wife.