Adoption Glossary - S

Safety - Absence of an imminent or immediate threat of moderate-to-serious harm to the child.
Safety Assessment - A part of the CPS case process in which available information is analyzed to identify whether a child is in immediate danger of moderate or serious harm.
Safety Plan - A casework document developed when it is determined that the child is in imminent or potential risk of serious harm. In the safety plan, the caseworker targets the factors that are causing or contributing to the risk of imminent serious harm to the child, and identifies, along with the family, the interventions that will control the safety factors and assure the child's protection.
Search - An attempt, usually by birthparent, adopted person or adoptive parent (but sometimes by volunteers or paid consultants) to make a connection between the birthparent and the biological child.
Search and Consent Procedures - Procedures, sanctioned in state law, that authorize a public or private agency to assist a searching party to locate another party to the adoption to determine if the second party agrees to the release of identifying information or to meeting with the requesting party. If consent is given, the disclosure of information may then be authorized by the court. In some states counseling is required before information is received.
Secondary Prevention - Activities targeted to prevent breakdowns and dysfunctions among families who have been identified as at risk for abuse and neglect.
Semi-Open (Closed) Adoption - Adoption where adoptive family and birth parents may talk, meet and have correspondence after the adoption, but no identifying information is exchanged.
Semi-Open Adoption - An adoption in which a child's birth parents and pre-adoptive parents may exchange primarily non-identifying information. After the child is placed in the adoptive home, contact with the birth family may involve letters or pictures or other communications sent through the intermediary of the adoption agency or the attorney who assisted in the placement.
Service Agreement - The casework document developed between the CPS caseworker and the family that outlines the tasks necessary to achieve goals and outcomes necessary for risk reduction.
Service Provision - The stage of the CPS casework process when CPS and other service providers provide specific services geared toward the reduction of risk of maltreatment.
Sexual Abuse - The employment, use, persuasion, inducement, enticement or coercion of any child to engage in, or assist any other person to engage in, any sexually explicit conduct or any simulation of such conduct for the purpose of producing any visual depiction of such conduct; or rape, and in cases of caretaker or inter-familial relationships, statutory rape, molestation, prostitution or other form of sexual exploitation of children; or incest with children.
Sexual Abuse Symptomology - Indicators and behaviors which suggest that a child may have been sexually abused, including: excessive masturbation, sexual interaction with peers, sexual aggression towards younger and more naive children, seductive behavior and promiscuity.
Social Marketing - The use of marketing principles and techniques to influence a target audience to voluntarily accept, reject, modify or abandon a behavior for the benefit of individuals, groups or society as a whole.
Social Worker - Person who completes home studies, works with birth parents and adoptive families in adoption situations.
Special Needs - A child with a physical handicap, mental handicap or illness often times considered hard-to-place.
Special Needs Children - Children whose emotional or physical disorders, age, race, membership in a sibling group, a history of abuse or other factors contribute to a lengthy stay in foster care. Guidelines for classifying a child as special needs vary by state. Common special needs conditions and diagnoses include: serious medical conditions, emotional and behavioral disorders, history of abuse or neglect, medical or genetic risk due to familial mental illness or parental substance abuse.
Speech and Language Disorders - Impairments of speech or receptive language. Speech disorders usually involved difficulties with articulation which can generally be improved or resolved with speech therapy, usually requiring treatment over months or years. Language disorders, on the other hand, often result in substantial learning problems, involving difficulty with language comprehension, expression, word-finding or speech discrimination. Treatment by a language therapist generally leads to improvement in functional communication skills, although treatment cannot be generally expected to eradicate the problem.
Stepparent Adoption - The adoption of a child by the new spouse of the birthparent.
Substantiated - An investigation disposition concluding that the allegation of maltreatment or risk of maltreatment was supported or founded by state law or state policy. A CPS determination means that credible evidence exists that child abuse or neglect has occurred.
Substitute Care - Any kind of care sanctioned by the court of jurisdiction in which the child does not live with the birth parent.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) - A Federally funded needs-based disability program for adults and children which provides monthly cash benefits and, in most states, automatic Medicaid eligibility.
Surrender - Voluntary termination of parental rights. An action taken by birth parents to voluntarily "make an adoption plan" for a child or "relinquishment” of child for adoption.
Surrender Papers - Legal document attesting to the signator's voluntary relinquishment of parental rights to a child.
Surrogate Mother - A woman who carries another woman's child by pre-arrangement or by legal contract.
System - Often referred to as "the public child welfare system." Refers to the network of governmental organizations providing a range of child welfare services.
Systems of Care - A system of care is a process of partnering an array of service agencies and families, working together to provide individualized care and supports designed to help children and families achieve safety, stability and permanency in their home and community.

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