Glossary of Key Terms

A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z



Adequate Parental Care

Where a child's basic physical, emotional, intellectual and social needs are met by his or her caregivers and the child is developing according to his or her potential.


The legal transfer of parental rights and responsibilities for a child which is permanent.

Domestic (national) adoption involves adopters who live in the same country as the child.

International or intercountry adoption involves adopters who live in a different country as the child.

Inter-cultural Adoption involves adopters from a different ethnic or cultural background from that of the child.

Extra-judicial Adoption is a form of adoption that has the effect of conferring legal rights and duties, but undertaken by a process that is not legal (e.g. by the adopters accepting someone else's child and registering him/her as though he/she were their birth child).

Alternative Care

A formal or informal arrangement whereby a child is looked after at least overnight outside the parental home, either by decision of a judicial or administrative authority or duly accredited body, or at the initiative of the child, his/her parent(s) or primary caregivers, or spontaneously by a care provider in the absence of parents.


The process of building an understanding of the problems needs and rights of a child and his/her family in the wider context of the community. It should cover the physical, intellectual, emotional and social needs and development of the child.

There are various types of assessment e.g. rapid, initial, risk, comprehensive etc.


The formation by a child of significant and stable emotional connections with the significant people in her/his life. This process begins in early infancy as the child bonds with one or more primary caregivers. A failure by a child to establish these types of important connections before the age of about five years may result in the child experiencing difficulties with a wide variety of social relationships for significant periods of time in her/his life.

back to top


Behavioral Difficulties

Problems in an individual's way of acting, behaving, or conducting him/herself. A child with behavioral difficulties may have difficulty following the rules of the classroom at school or in care placement.

Best Interests Determination (BID)

A formal process with specific procedural safeguards and documentation requirements that is conducted for certain children of concern to UNHCR, whereby a decision-maker is required to weigh and balance all the relevant factors of a particular case, giving appropriate weight to the rights and obligations recognized in the CRC and other human rights instruments, so that a comprehensive decision can be made that best protects the rights of children.

Biological Parents

The family into which the child is born. It can mean both parents if they are together, or the mother, or the father.

Boarding School

A school providing residential accommodation for some or all of its pupils on a full or part-time basis during term time. In some contexts, boarding schools may be considered as institutions if children are placed there primarily for care purposes, as an alternative to an orphanage or children's home, and who do not have alternative accommodation out-with term time.

back to top


Care Leaver

A young person, typically over the age of 16 who is leaving or has left a formal alternative care placement. Depending on each country's laws and policies, he or she may be entitled to assistance with education, finances, psychosocial support, and accommodation in preparation for independent living.

Care Planning

The process of planning a program of alternative care that has clear short-term and long-term goals.

A care plan is a written document which outlines how, when and who will meet the child's developmental needs.

Care System

The legal and policy framework, structures and resources that determine and deliver alternative care.


A person with whom the child lives who provides daily care to the child, and who acts as the child's 'parent' whether they are biological parents or not. A caregiver can be the mother or father, or another family member such as a grandparent or older sibling. It includes informal arrangements in which the caregiver does not have legal responsibility.

Case Conference

A multidisciplinary meeting of professionals known to and/or working with the child to discuss risk factors, the care and protection needs of the child, required supervision and support interventions with the child, family, and alternative caregivers, and the roles of the professionals involved.

Case Management

The process of ensuring that an identified child has his or her needs for care, protection and support met. This is usually the responsibility of an allocated social worker who meets with the child, the family, any other caregivers, and professionals involved with the child in order to assess, plan, deliver or refer the child and/or family for services, and monitor and review progress.


Social work involving direct consideration of the problems, needs, and adjustments of the individual case (as a person or family).

Cash Transfers

Refers to program or government distributions to identified low-income families to support costs related to the care of vulnerable children. Such transfers can be either conditional or unconditional, depending on whether recipients are required to engage in specific behaviors as a condition for access.


Every human being below the age of 18 unless, under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier.

Child Abuse

A deliberate act of ill treatment that can harm or is likely to cause harm to a child's safety, well-being, dignity and development. Abuse includes all forms of physical, sexual, psychological or emotional ill treatment.

Child and Youth Participation

Children and young people influencing issues affecting their lives, by speaking out or taking action in partnership with adults.

Child Care

Care of a child provided for compensation by an individual, other than a parent, for less than twenty-four (24) hours in a day. It typically allows the parent to go to work while their child is looked after in a day care facility or in the home of a childminder.

Child Friendly Space/Environment

During times of emergency, these provide safe havens for children and women. A basic package of services is made available for children, adolescents and mothers in a secure environment that is family-focused and community-based.

Child Labor (Economic exploitation of children):

Child labor refers to work that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children; and interferes with their schooling.

ILO Convention 182 defines the worst forms of child labor as trafficking, the sale of a child, bonded labor, forced labor, use of children in armed conflict, commercial sexual exploitation of children, and use of children in the commission of crimes including trafficking and production of drugs.

Child Protection

Measures and structures intended to prevent and respond to abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence affecting children.

Child Protection Committee

A committee constituted at a local, national, regional level to develop child protection strategies, to review individual cases, and to monitor and evaluate progress.

Child Protection System

A comprehensive system of laws, policies, procedures and practices designed to ensure the protection of children and to facilitate an effective response to allegations of child abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence.

Child Slavery

A child is in slavery when he/she is:

  • Forced to work through mental or physical threat;
  • Owned or controlled by an 'employer', usually through mental or physical abuse or threatened abuse;
  • Dehumanized, treated as a commodity or bought and sold as 'property'; and/or
  • Physically constrained or has restrictions placed on his/her freedom of movement.

Child-headed Household

A household in which a child or children (typically an older sibling), assumes the primary responsibility for the day to day running of the household, providing and caring for those within the household. The children in the household may or may not be related.

A supported child headed household is a form of family based care in which children are looked after by an older child, with support offered by the local community and/or by external agents.

Children Affected by HIV/AIDS

This broad term encompasses children who have lost one or both parents to an AIDS-related disease; children in families in which a parent or other care-giver is HIV+ or suffering from an AIDS related disease; children who are themselves HIV+; and children living in communities seriously affected by the epidemic.

Children Associated with Armed Forces or Groups/Child Soldier

Any person under 18 years of age who is compulsorily, forcibly, or voluntarily recruited or used in hostilities by any kind of armed forces or groups in any capacity, including soldiers, cooks, porters, messengers and girls recruited for sexual purposes and forced marriage. More recently, however, practitioners use the term 'children associated with armed forces or groups' to dispel a commonly held view that combatant boys are the only children that are concerned.

Children Living and Working on the Street/Street Children

Children (under 18 years) who spend most of their time on the streets. They may be engaged in some kind of economic activity ranging from begging to vending. They may go home at the end of the day and contribute their earnings to their family or they may live on the street, with or without other family members. The term 'children living and working on the street' is preferred to 'street children'.

Children Living or Working on the Street

Children whose habitual workplace is on the streets, some of whom also either live there or spend time living on the streets.

Children Without Parental Care (or children deprived of family care)

All children not living with at least one of their parents, for whatever reason and under whatever circumstances. Children without parental care who are outside their country of habitual residence or victims of emergency situations may be designated as unaccompanied or separated.

Children's Rights

A set of universal entitlements for every child and young person below the age of 18 enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. These entitlements apply to children of every background and encompass what they need to survive and to have opportunities to lead stable, rewarding lives. They fall into four categories: the right to survive, be safe, belong and develop.

Children's Village

A type of institutional care in which children live in small houses (rather akin to group homes) but on a large campus that also includes some communal facilities (e.g. for play, healthcare etc.).

Code of conduct

A code of conduct is a set of rules outlining the responsibilities of or proper practices for an individual or organization.

Community Based Care

Care that is as close as possible to family based care and where the community is involved in the process of a child's recovery. Foster and extended families are examples of community-based care.

Community Based Support

A range of measures to ensure the support of children and families in the community.

Community Child Care Forum/Committee

A group of people mandated within their community to take responsibilities for the protection and care of children and families.

Community Group

An informal grouping of people at community level who join together to provide care and protection for vulnerable children.

Community-based Organization (CBO)

A local membership organization that relies almost exclusively on volunteers from within the community and usually receives little external funding.

Corporal or Physical Punishment

Forced pain intended to change a person's behavior or to punish them e.g. hitting a child with the hand or with an object (such as a cane, belt, whip, shoe, etc); kicking, shaking, or throwing the child, pinching or pulling their hair; forcing a child to stay in uncomfortable or undignified positions, or to take excessive physical exercise; and burning or scarring the child.


A process where children or adults are helped in dealing with their personal and interpersonal conflicts by a third party therapist. Counseling with young children typically centers on the use of play and does not rely on verbal communication. Counseling with older children may make use of art, music, and drama techniques.

back to top



The process of transforming the alternative care system away from using residential care institutions to providing family-based care and services within the community. It involves all types of efforts to return the child or adolescent to family care or, where that is not possible or in their best interests, to provide them with family based alternative care.


The formal and controlled discharge of active combatants from armed forces or other armed groups. The first stage of demobilization may extend from the processing of individual combatants in temporary centers to the massing of troops in camps designated for this purpose (cantonment sites, encampments, assembly areas or barracks). The second stage of demobilization encompasses the support package provided to the demobilized, which is called reinsertion.

The terms 'release' or 'exit from an armed force or group' and 'children coming or exiting from armed forces and groups' rather than 'demobilized children' are preferred.


The term 'children with disabilities' is preferred to 'disabled children'.

  • Children with disabilities usually include: Children with a physical or sensory impairment who, without assistance, would be unlikely to achieve their full potential
  • Children with a learning disability, who again would not achieve their full potential without assistance from agencies outside the family
  • Children with emotional, behavioral or mental health problems.

Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR)

A process that contributes to security and stability in a post-conflict recovery context by removing weapons from the hands of combatants, taking the combatants out of military structures and helping them to integrate socially and economically into society by finding civilian livelihoods.

Do No Harm

An approach that tries to avoid unintended negative impacts of development and other interventions.


The process of recording further information in order to meet the specific needs of the child, including tracing, and to make plans for his/her future. This is a continuation of the registration process and not a separate undertaking.

back to top


Economic Child Exploitation

The use of the child in work or other activities for the benefit of others. This includes, but is not limited to, child labor.


An emergency is a situation that threatens the lives and well-being of large numbers of a population, extraordinary action being required to ensure the survival, care and protection of those affected. Emergencies include natural crises such as hurricanes, droughts, earthquakes, and floods, as well as situations of armed conflict.

Emotional or Psychological Abuse

Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional ill-treatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child's emotional development (e.g. humiliating and degrading treatment such as bad name calling, constant criticism, belittling, persistent shaming, solitary confinement and isolation).


It is a time-bound activity that systematically and objectively assesses the relevance, performance and success of ongoing and completed programs and interventions. Evaluation is carried out selectively, asking and answering specific questions to guide decision makers and/or program managers. Evaluation determines the relevance, efficiency, effectiveness, impact and sustainability of a program.


The use of a child for someone else's advantage, gratification or profit often resulting in unjust, cruel and harmful treatment of the child. These activities are to the detriment of the child's physical or mental health, education, moral or social-emotional development.

Extended Family

The wider network of family members that might include grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins etc.

back to top


Faith-Based Organization (FBO)

An organization formed by people with a common religious belief. This includes community-based groups that meet regularly, as well as more formal organizations that are CBOs or non-governmental organizations with a religious basis to their work, or a coordinating body of a particular religious group (e.g. a district Muslim council or a diocesan coordinating body).

Family Based Care

The short-term or long-term placement of a child into a family environment, with at least one consistent parental caregiver, a nurturing family environment where children are part of supportive kin and community.

Family Group Conferencing

A way of fully involving a family in the planning, decision making and arrangements for the care, protection and supervision of the child, young person or vulnerable adult. The family is invited to meet as a group to discuss issues relating to the child and is encouraged by a facilitator to come up with their own solutions.

Family Support Services

A range of measures to ensure the support of children and families – similar to community based support but may be provided by external agents such as social workers and providing services such as counseling, parent education, day-care facilities, material support, etc.


The monitoring of the well-being of a child, and the identification and provision of a range of social and economic supports for children and their caregivers.

Formal Care

All care situations where the child's placement was made by order of a Competent Authority, as well as residential care, irrespective of the route by which the child entered.

Foster Care Agency

The public or private agency which recruits, approves, supervises and places children with foster families.

Foster Care/Fostering

The full-time care of a child or adolescent within a non-related family who agrees to meet the developmental, psychosocial, medical, educational and spiritual needs of a child who is not able to live with his/her own parents or extended family.

Formal foster care describes arrangements that have been ordered or authorized by an administrative body or judicial authority; it usually involves an assessment of the family for the child and the provision of some kind of continuing support and monitoring.

Informal foster care is a private arrangement made between the two families.

Specialized foster family care provides for children with special needs (a child with HIV/AIDS or psychiatric disorders, for example).

Crisis intervention foster family care is when there is an emergency and a child lives with a family until the crisis is over or another plan is made for the child.

Spontaneous fostering, where a family takes in a child without any prior arrangement. This is a frequent occurrence during emergencies and may involve families from a different community in the case of refugee children.

back to top


Gate Keeping

The prevention of inappropriate placement of a child in formal care. Placement should be preceded by some form of assessment of the child's physical, emotional, intellectual and social needs, matched to whether the placement can meet these needs based on its functions and objectives.

Gender Based Violence

An umbrella term for any harmful act that is perpetrated against a person's will, and that is based on socially ascribed (gender) differences between males and females. Examples include: Sexual violence, including sexual exploitation/abuse and forced prostitution, domestic violence, trafficking, and forced/early marriage.

Government Services

All basic services that are provided by the state including health, education, justice, social welfare, police, agriculture, water and other services.

Group/Small Family Home

A type of residential care in which 10 children or less live in a house with a care worker(s), and are cared for in an environment that is as family-like as possible, typically with 2-3 children per bedroom.


This term is used in three different ways:

  • It can be used as a legal device for conferring parental rights and responsibilities to adults who are not parents.
  • It can refer to an informal relationship whereby one or more adults assume responsibility for the care of a child.
  • It is sometimes a temporary arrangement whereby a child who is the subject of judicial proceedings is granted a guardian to look after his/her interests.

back to top



Harm is the result of the exploitation, violence, abuse and neglect of children and can take many forms, including impacts on children's physical, emotional and behavioral development, their general health, their family and social relationships, their self-esteem, their educational attainment and their aspirations.


A service provided by social or community workers or volunteers in order to provide assessment and monitoring of risk and support needs. It is also a form of support, whereby the home visitor may provide assistance directly (e.g. parenting information, advice on rights, counseling, etc).

back to top



Final or longer term changes as a result of project or program activities (e.g. changes in children's development, well-being, experience of violence, fulfillment of rights). They may sometimes only be realized after the lifetime of a project or program.

Impact Assessment

The assessment of the long-term and wide-ranging changes that a project or program brings about, including unintended and negative changes. Impact assessment focuses on changes beyond those visible or achieved during the lifetime of most projects or programs and is therefore usually undertaken some time after the project or program implementation period.


Inclusion is the process of taking necessary steps to ensure that every young person is given an equality of opportunity to develop socially, to learn and to enjoy community life. It is often associated with particular groups of young people: those with disabilities, from ethnic minority communities, with HIV or AIDS, etc. It is also associated with certain regions, cities and neighbourhoods.


An objective way of measuring that progress is being achieved. Indicators can refer to each level: input, output, outcome, objective or impact. Indicators provide an indication that something has happened, or that an objective has been achieved.


International non-governmental organization


The resources that are used (e.g. funds, staff, materials) and the activities undertaken (e.g. conducting a training workshop, meeting with communities, meeting with government officials, undertaking operational field research) to bring about a result.


The physical review of care facilities against a set of approved standards.


A large institution is characterized by having 25 or more children living together in one building. A small institution or children's home refers to a building housing 11 to 24 children.

Institutional Care

The short-term or long-term placement of a child into any non family-based care situation. Other similar terms include residential care, group care, and orphanage.

Intake Center

A short-term shelter facility that provides special care to children upon their initial arrival, as well as assessing the individual's needs.


This is the process of a child returning to daily life in a community on a long-term basis. Integration includes reintegration, which is the specific situation where a child returns to her/his family or a familiar community. Integration also includes the long-term prospects for those children or young people who settle in a different community to their home.

Interim/Emergency Care

Care arranged for a child on a temporary basis (e.g. while her/his own family is being traced where accidental separation has occurred).

Internally displaced persons (IDPs)

Persons who have been obliged to flee from their homes in particular as a result of or in order to avoid the effects of armed conflicts, situations of generalized violence, violations of human rights or natural or human-made disasters, and who have not crossed an internationally recognized State border.


The actions taken to prevent or respond to an identified issue or problem e.g. a series of counseling sessions, microfinance, medical treatment etc.

back to top


back to top



A form of family based care used in Islamic societies that does not involve a change in kinship status, but does allow an unrelated child, or a child of unknown parentage, to receive care, legal protection and inheritance.

Kinship Care

The full-time care, nurturing and protection of a child by someone other than a parent who is related to the child by family ties or by a significant prior relationship.

Informal kinship care is any private arrangement provided in a family, whereby the child is looked after by kin.

Formal kinship care describes arrangements that have been ordered or authorized by an administrative body or judicial authority; it usually involves an assessment of the family for the child and the provision of some kind of continuing support and monitoring.

back to top


Life Skills

Various skills children and young people can learn regarding social development and living and coping independently. This includes self-awareness, problem solving, learning to negotiate, decision-making, creative thinking, critical thinking, effective communication, interpersonal relationship skills, conflict resolution, empathy, coping with emotions and stress management as well as money management, raising a family and running a home.

Life Story Work

The process through which the worker helps children learn about events in the past, present and future in order make sense of their care placements. It involves a series of individual sessions with the child and a trusted worker, where they discuss negative and positive events in the child's life and collate factual information relating to the placement into care.

Livelihood Development

Efforts to improve the capacities, capital (human, social, productive and economic) and activities needed to sustain life. This definition of livelihood is broad in that it includes all types of income generation, employment, enterprise development and production that help to supply enough food, clothing and shelter to lead a healthy and dignified life.

back to top



The process of finding a caregiver whose attributes and resources in a particular placement setting meet the specific needs of an individual child who requires alternative care, as outlined in the child's care plan.


A type of small business, with 5 or fewer employees and with minimal start-up capital. Typically, micro-enterprises have no access to the commercial banking sector. Persons who found a micro-enterprise are usually referred to as entrepreneurs.


Placement monitoring: Regular contact and visits to the child in their placement in order to ensure the child is not at risk, to identify actions needed, and to provide supports to the child and/or caregivers.

Program monitoring: It is the systematic implementation of an activity that establishes whether input deliveries, work schedules, other required actions and targeted outputs have proceeded according to plan, so that timely action can be taken to correct deficiencies.

Multidisciplinary team

A small group of professionals and non-professionals who oversee and recommend activities conducted on behalf of each individual child from the time of intake through to integration. The composition of the team usually includes medical (including physical and psychosocial care), legal and social welfare professionals. The team should include all those involved in the care and protection of the child.

Multi-systemic Treatment (MST)

An intensive family- and community-based treatment that addresses the multiple determinants of serious antisocial behaviour in juvenile offenders at high risk of out-of-home placement, and their families. MST is a pragmatic and goal-oriented treatment that specifically targets those factors in each youth's social network that are contributing to his or her antisocial behavior.

back to top



Deliberately, or through carelessness or negligence, failing to provide for, or secure for the child, their rights to physical safety and development (e.g. abandonment, the failure to properly supervise and protect children from harm as much as is feasible, the deliberate failure to carry out important aspects of care which results or is likely to result in harm to the child, the deliberate failure to provide medical care or carelessly exposing a child to harm).


Non-governmental organization.

back to top



A specific, time bound and measurable goal for projects or programs which contributes to achieving the longer term aims (impact). Program or project objectives should indicate what changes the project is hoping to achieve.


Orphans are children, both of whose parents are known to be dead. In some countries, however, a child who has lost one parent is called an orphan.


This term refers to an institution providing residential care for children who have lost both parents. This term is not representative, as in practice these facilities often admit many children who are not actually orphans.


The intermediate changes as a result of project or program activities (e.g. changes in knowledge, behavior, attitudes, children's access and use of services, policy). Outcomes can usually be measured during the lifetime of a project or program.


The immediate results of project or program activities (e.g. children receive training, community mechanisms are set up).


Orphans and other vulnerable children. This term is generally avoided as it implies that all HIV- and AIDS-affected children are 'vulnerable'; second, it can isolate HIV- and AIDS-affected children from other vulnerable children in the community; and third, it ignores other vulnerable children. The terms 'vulnerable children', 'children affected by HIV and AIDS', or 'children associated with fighting forces' are preferred.

back to top


Package of Protection and Care

A cluster of measures of support for a particular child or family where the aim is the prevention of care or the support of children living in some form of alternative care.


E.g. Agency fostering panel.


A child's biological mother and father or another adult who has adopted the child.

Parenting/Parent Management Training

Individual or group training on positive parenting practices, led by a trained social or community worker. It typically includes information developing positive relationships with your children, managing expectations, non-violent discipline, managing parental stress, and communication skills.


Establishing family connections and placement options for a child in order to provide a lifetime of commitment, continuity of care, a sense of belonging and a legal and social status that goes beyond the child's temporary foster care placement.

Permanency Planning

An array of social work and legal efforts directed toward securing safe, nurturing, life-long families for children in foster care.


Person, group, or institution that directly inflicts or otherwise supports violence or other abuse inflicted on another against her/his will.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse involves the use of violent physical force so as to cause actual or likely physical injury or suffering (e.g. hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating, female genital mutilation, torture).


A social work term for the arranged out of home accommodation provided for a child or young person on a short- or long-term basis.

Prevention (of a child needing care)

A variety of approaches that support family life and help to diminish the need for a child to be separated from her/his immediate or extended family or other caregiver and be placed in alternative care.

Protective Environment

The Protective Environment Framework sets out eight broad, pivotal elements that determine children's protection from violence, exploitation, and abuse. The eight elements key to creating, or strengthening, a protective environment around children, described in greater detail below, are Government Commitment and Capacity; Legislation and Enforcement; Culture and Customs; Open Discussion; Children's Life Skills, Knowledge, and Participation; Capacity of Families and Communities; Essential Services; and Monitoring, Reporting, and Oversight.

Psychosocial Work

A component of child protection which overlaps with the term “social work”. It describes crosscutting activities which prevent and reduce negative impacts on the social and psychological well-being of affected populations. This can include advocating for improved access to basic services and security, and also community based activities which promote the ability of families and communities to support each other, resume everyday activities, and heal (e.g. via parenting groups, children's recreational and educational activities).

back to top


back to top



The formal process of requesting a service for a child, young person, or adult e.g. for psychosocial services, for a placement, for an education place etc. The request is usually made in writing using an agreed referral form.


Someone who is outside his or her country of origin and has a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion. States in Africa and Latin America have expanded this definition to include persons fleeing their country of origin for reasons of civil disturbance, war, or massive human rights violations.

Refugee status determination

Legal and administrative procedures undertaken by UNHCR and/or States to determine whether an individual should be recognized as a refugee in accordance with national and international law.


Registration of an organization or institution: The process by which an organization or institution is monitored by a competent authority, as being 'fit for purpose', set against an established criteria of quality.

Registration of a child: The compilation of key personal data: full name, date and place of birth, father's and mother's name, former address and present location. This information is collected for the purpose of establishing the identity of the child, for protection and to facilitate tracing.


The assistance offered to ex-combatants during demobilization but prior to the longer-term process of reintegration. Reinsertion is a form of transitional assistance to help cover the basic needs of ex-combatants and their families and can include transitional safety allowances, food, clothes, shelter, medical services, short-term education, training, employment and tools.


Child-centered reintegration is multi-layered and focuses on family reunification; mobilizing and enabling care systems in the community; medical screening and health care, including reproductive health services; schooling and/or vocational training; psychosocial support; and social, cultural and economic support.

Residential care

Care provided in any non-family-based group setting


The positive capacity of children, young people and adults to cope with stress and adversity.

Respite Care

Planned, short term care of a child, usually based on foster or residential care, to give the family a break from caring for a child.


The process of bringing together the child and family or previous care-provider for the purpose of establishing or re-establishing long-term care.


The process of reexamining the child's situation and needs based on ongoing assessment information gathered on the progress of the child at home or in alternative care, and any new information relating to the child, birth family or caregivers. This is typically a multi-disciplinary meeting, attended by the child or young person and the current caregivers, and/or the birth parents. Reviews should take place on a regular basis and be formally recorded.


The regular meeting of those responsible for the child's best interests and the child, during which the progress, current and future, of the care plan, is discussed.

back to top


Safe Houses

These facilities are designed to provide a secure, often “closed”, care environment for children deemed more specifically to require protection from outsiders, such as victims of trafficking or separated children who risk being drawn into exploitation or criminal activity.


The values and procedures to be upheld by those working with children and young people in order to protect them from all forms of abuse, exploitation and violence.

Separated Child

A child separated from both parents or from his/her previous legal or customary primary caregiver, but not necessarily from other relatives.

Sexual Abuse

All forms of sexual violence including incest, early and forced marriage, rape, involvement in child pornography, and sexual slavery. Child sexual abuse may also include indecent touching or exposure, using sexually explicit language towards a child and showing children pornographic material.

Sexual Exploitation of Children and Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC)

The abuse of a position of vulnerability, differential power, or trust for sexual purposes; this includes profiting monetarily, socially or politically from the exploitation of another as well as personal gratification (e.g. child prostitution, trafficking of children for sexual purpose, child pornography, sexual slavery).

Social Policy

Public policy, having to do with issues seen as 'social' e.g. family policies, housing policies, drug policies and criminal justice policies.

Social Protection

A wide range of activities undertaken by societies to alleviate hardship and respond to the risks that poor and vulnerable people face and to provide minimum standards of well-being. This includes services and financial transfers.

Social Services

Services provided by public or private organizations aimed at addressing the needs and problems of the most vulnerable populations, including those stemming from violence, family breakdown, homelessness, substance abuse, immigration, disability and old age. These can include day and residential care, income support, home visiting, and specialist services such as drug and alcohol rehabilitation, etc.

Social Welfare

Public provision for the economic security and welfare of all individuals and their families, especially in the case of income losses due to unemployment, work injury, maternity sickness, old age, and death.

Social Work

Organized work intended to advance the social condition of communities and disadvantaged individuals. Social work comprises professional activities connected with social problems, their causes, their solutions and their human impacts. Social workers work primarily with individuals, families, groups, and communities, as members of a profession which is committed to social justice and human rights.

Special Needs

The special or unique, out-of-the-ordinary concerns created by a person's medical, physical, mental, or developmental condition or disability. Additional services are usually needed to help a person in one or more of the following areas, among others, thinking, communication, movement, getting along with others, and taking care of self.

Standards in Care

A written document outlining the provisions that must be in place in a care setting, in order to ensure that a child receives an adequate level of care.

Supported Independent Living

Where a young person is supported in her/his own home, a group home, hostel, or other form of accommodation, to become independent. Support/key workers are available as needed and at planned intervals to offer assistance and support but not to provide supervision. Assistance may include timekeeping, budgeting, cooking, job seeking, and parenting.

back to top



The process of searching for family members or primary legal or customary caregivers. The term also refers to the search for children whose parents are looking for them. The objective of tracing is reunification with parents or other close relatives.


The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, the abuse of power or a position of vulnerability or the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person for the purpose of exploitation. In the case of a child, however, the entire question of the consent is irrelevant.

Transit/Crisis/Emergency Care Centre

A form of institution used to provide short-term care, until family reunification can be undertaken, or alternative care provided.

back to top


Unaccompanied Child

A child who has been separated from both parents and other relatives and is not being cared for by any adult who, by law or custom, is responsible for doing so.

back to top



The process of establishing the validity of relationships and confirming the willingness of the child and the family member to be reunited.


The intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against a child, by an individual or group, that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in actual or potential harm to the child's health, survival, development or dignity.

Vulnerable Children

Children whose rights to care and protection are being violated or who are at risk of those rights being violated. This includes children who are poor, abused, neglected, or lacking access to basic services, ill or living with disabilities, as well as children whose parents are ill, who are affected by fighting forces or who are in conflict with the law.

back to top


back to top


back to top



Within the UN system, young people are identified as those between 15 and 24 years of age. However, this can vary considerably between one context and another.

back to top




Better Care Network Brief: Institutional Care, Better Care Network, 2009
Better Care Network Brief: Kinship Care, Better Care Network, 2009
Child Protection and Care Related Definitions, Save the Children UK, 2007
Draft UN Guidelines for the Appropriate Use and Conditions of Alternative Care for Children, 18 June 2007
Guidelines for Gender-Based Violence Interventions in Humanitarian Settings, IASC, 2005
Integrated Disarmament Demobilisation and Reintegration Standards, United Nations, 2006
Inter-agency Guiding Principles on Unaccompanied and Separated Children, ICRC, 2004
Introduction to Child Protection in Emergencies, UNICEF, 2008
Manual for the Measurement of Indicators for Children in Formal Care, UNICEF and Better Care Network, January 2009
Menu of Outcome Indicators, Save the Children UK, 2008
Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime, November 2000
Save the Children and Child Protection, Save the Children Alliance, 2007
UNHCR Guidelines on Formal Determination of the Best Interests of the Child, Provisional Release, UNHCR, May 2006
World Report on Violence and Health, WHO, 2002
Youth Microenterprise and Livelihoods: State of the Field. Lessons from the 2007 Global Youth Microenterprise Conference, Making Cents International, 2008