Adult Supporter:

an adult who partners with a youth to help him or her achieve a goal or who partners with an agency to promote youth engagement.


a strategic action or plan used to influence decision-making and positive change. Simply put, advocacy is speaking or acting on behalf of oneself or someone else.

Casey Life Skills Assessment (CLSA):

an assessment and planning tool for evaluating the life skills of older youth and young adults. It is youth-centered and strength-based in evaluating the independent living skills and needs of youth in foster care. The ACLSA identifies the youth’s strengths and needs in nine domains: career planning, communication, daily living, housing and money management, self care, social relationships, work life, and work and study skills. The domain scores indicate areas of strength and opportunities for improvement. (caseylifeskills.org)

Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA):

individuals appointed by judges to watch over and advocate for abused and neglected youth, to ensure youth are spoken for in the overburdened legal and social service systems and do not languish in inappropriate group or foster homes.

Comprehensive Services Act (CSA):

the purpose of the act is to provide high quality,  youth-centered, family-focused, cost effective, community-based services to high-risk youth and their families.

Community Policy and Management Team (CPMT):

a team of individuals who create, maintain and manage a collaborative system of services and funding that is youth-centered, family-focused, and community based when addressing the strengths and needs of at-risk youth and their families.

Education Training Voucher Program (ETV):

a program that financially assists eligible foster care and adopted youth with post-secondary education and training expenses, including: colleges, universities and vocational training programs.


a process that strengthens and/or increases one’s ability socially, economically, politically, and/or spiritually. An empowered individual is able to solve his or her own problems and gain the necessary resources to positively impact his or her own life.

Family Assessment and Planning Team (FAPT):

comprised of the supervisory-level staff from the same agencies as the CPMT, as well as a parent, member from the community and often a private provider. These teams work with families to develop an Individual Family  Services Plan (IFSP).

Family Engagement Model (FEM):

a key building block of the Children’s Services System Transformation that identifies a structured and deliberate approach to partnering with families. The Family Engagement Model recognizes that:

  • All families have strengths.
  • Families are the experts on themselves.
  • Families deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.
  • Families can make well-informed decisions about keeping their children safe when supported.
  • Outcomes improve when families are involved in decision-making.
  • A team is often more capable of creative and high-quality decision-making than an individual.

Family Partnership Meetings (FPM):

a deliberate and structured approach to involving youth and families in decision-making through a facilitated meeting of the family, their supports, and professionals working with the family. The team collaboratively develops ideas and establishes a decision for the child or family throughout the family’s involvement with the agency.

Guardian Ad Litem (GAL):

an attorney appointed by a judge to assist the court in determining the circumstances of a matter before the court. It is the fundamental responsibility of the GAL to provide independent recommendations to the court about the client’s best interests, which can be different from advocating for what the client wants, and to bring balance to the decision-making process. The GAL may conduct interviews and investigations, make reports to the court, and participate in court hearings or mediation sessions.

Independent Living (IL):

having the self-determination to make decisions that affect one’s life and the ability to pursue activities of one’s own choosing.

Independent Living Services:

services and supports that are designed with and provided to youth ages 14-21 in foster care. They build upon the strengths and meet the unique needs of the youth in preparing for the transition to adulthood. Independent Living services include activities that are based on a written assessment of life skills.

Individual Family Services Plan (IFSP):

a family-focused plan that identifies a youth’s current developmental levels, what services will be provided to advance those levels, and what goals one would like the youth to reach. It also contains valuable information about the youth’s strengths, needs, likes, and dislikes.

Lifelong Connections:

a mutually beneficial relationship in which an adult consistently states and demonstrates unconditional caring and support to a youth throughout his or her life.

National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD):

a data system created to track independent living services and learn how successful states are in preparing youth to move from foster care into adulthood. Every three years beginning on October 1, 2010, Virginia surveys youth in foster care at age 17 and conducts follow-up surveys of the same youth at age 19 and again at age 21.


a process and a result that includes involvement of the youth as a participant or leader in finding a lasting connection with at least one committed adult who provides:

  • A safe, stable and secure parenting relationship.
  • Love.
  • Unconditional commitment.
  • Lifelong support in the context of reunification, a legal adoption or guardianship where possible, and in which the youth has the opportunity to maintain contacts with important persons, including brothers and sisters.

Positive Youth Development (PYD):

attending to and supporting the development of universal needs in youth versus attending to what is wrong with youth. The four universal developmental needs are identified by the Circle of Courage. Goals of PYD are:

  • Promoting positive relationships with peers.
  • Emphasizing youths’ strengths.
  • Providing opportunities to learn healthy behaviors.
  • Connecting youth with caring adults.
  • Empowering youth to assume leadership roles in programs.
  • Challenging youth in ways that build their competence.

Service Learning:

engagement in deliberate action that benefits the public good in order to develop, reinforce or strengthen learning goals.

Transition Plan:

specifies the independent living services, activities, and supports that will be provided to help youth transition to adulthood. The plan is to be:

  • Youth-driven.
  • Based on your IL needs assessment.
  • Developed through a team process.

Youth/Adult Partnerships:

a collaborative partnership in which youth and adults are involved in their community. Youth and adults develop relationships that are characterized by respect and mutuality in teaching, learning, and action as it relates to youth in foster care. Action may involve youth advocating for their rights in the form of lobbying with legislators, as well as providing service to the community.

Youth Engagement:

involving youth in shaping their own lives and the future of the world around them. For youth in foster care, it specifically means involving them in case planning and encouraging them to advocate for themselves.

Youth Involvement:

a deliberate effort that centers on young peoples’ participation in personal, social, institutional, cultural, and other forms of action throughout society.

Youth Driven:

a process or activity is youth driven when youth are self-directed, involved and have real choice in deciding what the next step(s) are. It is important to note that interdependence may outweigh individual independence.

Youth Voice:

the ideas, opinions, experiences, attitudes, knowledge, and actions of young people.