5 day pay or quit notice

  • A five-day notice that can be given if one does not pay rent on time. The notice is required for eviction but can be sent as early as the day after rent is due. After receiving a five-day notice, the tenant has five days to pay the rent or the landlord has the right to begin court proceedings for eviction and payment of back rent.

Ad litem

  • Translates to “for the lawsuit.” A “Guardian Ad Litem,” or GAL, is an attorney who is appointed to act in a court case on behalf of a child or other person incapable of representing themselves.

Administrative panel review

  • Much like a court hearing, these reviews are heard every 6 months after a judge has approved a foster care goal of adoption, permanent foster care, or independent living. It is a forum for discussion and recommendations in regards to your service plan. The panel usually consists of your social worker, GAL, foster parents or current caregiver, important relatives and even the child himself or herself, if attendance is not to their detriment.


  • When adults become the legal parents of a child who was not born to them.


  • The process of requesting a change to a decision that has been made by a school or court official.  An appeal enables a new person to review the evidence and situation and decide what action should be taken.

“As is” sale

  • There are no express or implied warranties on the vehicle meaning that if there is a vehicle defect or a malfunction the buyer is responsible for any and all repairs

Bank Statement

  • A printed or electronic record of an individual’s account balance; usually shows withdraws and deposits as well.

Best Interests

  • The legal standard a judge must use when deciding what is best for a child. The judge may think your “best interests” are different from what you think they are.

Birth Parents

  • The persons who were the parents of a child at birth.

Buyers Guide

  • A used car is required to have this visible when purchasing the car. It must contain warranty information (if applicable) and basic vehicle information. If there is no warranty then the guide will state whether the car is being sold “as is.” The buyer receives the original buyers guide or an accurate copy at time of sale.


  • (Court Appointed Special Advocate): a volunteer who gets to know the child and makes recommendations to the court regarding the needs of that child.


  • The private office of a judge. You can request to speak to a judge in “chambers” about your case; just ask your GAL.


  • An individual or institution that signs onto a loan or lease with the primary borrower in order to ensure that the loan or lease will be paid if the primary borrower cannot pay the amount owed. A co-signer should be reliable and someone that you know well.

Code of Student Conduct

  • A book or pamphlet given to a student when they enroll in school listing the rules and appropriate behavior expected of students. It is a guide to what a student should or should not do at their specific school.

Community College

  • Type of post-secondary institution that offers one and two year programs for students interested in immediate employment or the ability to transfer to a four year college or university.

Community College Tuition Grant Program

  • Provides financial assistance for tuition and fees to students who were adopted out of foster care when they graduated from high school or received their GED.


  • An agreement between two or more persons and companies, to do a particular thing. You cannot legally sign a contract until you are 18 years old.  Most contracts can be verbal but it is always better to have a written agreement. Changes to a contract must be made prior to signing; once signed there is usually no right to cancel except under certain circumstances.

Court Appointed Special Advocate

  • (CASA) A specially trained volunteer assigned by the court to independently gather information on your case to ensure that the voice of the child is fully represented.

Court Hearing

  • A court action where evidence is provided, usually in the form of live testimony, in front of a judge so that a decision can be reached. Hearings are held at least once every 6 months but it depends on your foster care goal and service plan. Typically, your parents, social worker, and GAL attend every hearing. If you are 12 years or older you have the right to attend your hearings. If you are under 12 years old and would still like to attend, just let your GAL know.


  • Refers to an individual’s reputation as a borrower of money. Possessing good credit implies that one is able to repay a loan while having bad credit can imply the opposite.

Credit card

  • A card issued by a bank or a private company that allows you to make purchases and pay for them later. Credit cards charge interest rates on these purchases, which make them more expensive in the long run. However, it is usually wise to have at least one credit card for emergencies. You must be 18 years or older to receive a credit card.

Credit report

  • Contains information about your history of loans and repayment of those loans. The report gives you a credit score, which indicates how good your credit is on a numerical scale. When renting an apartment or signing a lease, a credit check or report will often be performed to assess how reliable you are as a rental candidate.


  • There are two kinds of custody: physical custody (refers to a person or persons with whom a child lives) and legal custody (refers to people with legal responsibility for making decisions about a child). Children in foster care are usually in the physical custody of a foster parent but the legal custody of DSS.


  • A youth who has been found by a court to have broken the law or code of conduct.

Department of Social Services (DSS)

  • Provides administration and oversight of programs for foster children and youth while also bearing responsibility for the management of multiple support services for children and adults.


  • A list of documents that you may need to provide for a variety of government services such as getting a drivers license, receiving housing assistance, signing up for school etc.

Education and Training Voucher (ETV)

  • Assists eligible foster care and adopted youth with post-secondary education and training expenses. It is designed to help youth aging out of foster care with the education, training and services needed for employment. Youth ages 16-23 can apply with the possibility of receiving up to $5000 in program vouchers. These vouchers are meant to assist in the payment of tuition, room and board, books and supplies, child-care etc.

Employment certificate

  • Any child ages 14-15 must have this certificate if they wish to work in the state of Virginia; also known as a work permit.


  • The act of removing a tenant from a rental property; forcing them to move out. There are several laws and requirements that must be met before you can be evicted; see “five day pay or quit notice,” above.


  • When a student is forced to leave school permanently having committed a serious violation of student conduct such as bringing a weapon to campus, purposely damaging school property, or having alcohol or drugs on school property etc. The principal must send a letter home (to the appropriate person) discussing the expulsion. The student has a right to appeal.

FAMIS (Family Access to Medical Insurance Security)

  • A state run health insurance program for children and foster youth. This along with Medicaid helps to provide healthcare coverage for youth in foster care.

Family foster home placement

  • Placement of a child with a family that has been approved by the Department of Social Services to provide substitute care for children until a permanent placement can be achieved.

Family Unification Vouchers (FUP)

  • A certificate that can be used to gain housing assistance if you are a family without adequate housing for your children or you are a foster youth aging out of the foster care system between the ages of 16-18. The voucher can be used by foster youth for up to 18 months.

Financial aid

  • Funding provided through a variety of sources meant to help youth pay educational expenses.


  • Borrowing money to purchase property (i.e. car). This costs more than paying for the property in full. Financing includes interest and fees that increase the total cost of the car over time. Make sure you understand the terms of your financing very well.

Food stamps/Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

  • A government issued voucher for low-income individuals and families that is exchangeable for food; you must meet a certain criteria to qualify for this program.

Foster Care Plan

  • Each child has a Foster Care Plan (FCP) which details why the child is in foster care, and what the plan is for that child to achieve permanency (sometimes called a Permanency Plan). If you are 12 or over, you must receive a copy of this plan; if you are 14 or older, you should be included in developing this plan.

Foster family

  • A family providing temporary care and supervision for a child placed in their home. The foster family provides parental care and supervision and works with agency staff to help achieve permanence for the child.

Four-year college or university

  • Type of post-secondary institution that offers four-year degrees in a variety of areas. Students can learn a trade and receive a bachelor’s degree.


  • Refers to the General Equivalency Degree, an examination that can be taken in place of physical completion of high school; required by many jobs.

Good academic standing

  • A student that has met or gone beyond the expectations of the student code of conduct; a student that has received good grades and has demonstrated good behavior.

Great Expectations Program

  • A program offered at several Virginia community colleges that helps foster youth gain access to a college education. The program supports students in academic as well as fundamental life skills and helps older foster youth transition into independent living.

Group home

  • Type of foster care placement where several children live in a home-like facility with staff and counselors that provide a variety of services. These placements are usually more restrictive than other options and are typically reserved for adolescents.

Guardian ad litem (GAL)

  • A court appointed guardian. In Virginia these are lawyers, although in other states they can also be specially trained adults. Their job is to represent the child during court hearings and review panels advocating what they believe is the best interest of the child.

Implied warranty

  • Unspoken and/or unwritten promise that a product (i.e. car) will do what it is supposed to do. This is sometimes referred to as a “warranty of fitness for a particular purpose” or a “warranty of merchantability.”

Independent Living arrangement

  • May be an apartment, a group of apartments, or even a small home where older youth (at least 16) can live without daily adult supervision.

Independent Living coordinator

  • Coordinates assistance for youth ages 14-21 in developing the life skills necessary for transitioning from foster care to independent living. These independent living services include activities that focus on personal development skills like self-esteem, communication skills, decision-making, conflict resolution and anger management.

Independent Living grant

  • A financial assistance program that provides support for foster youth transitioning into independent living. It provides educational training, counseling, and job training.

Interest rate (APR)

  • A fee established by a credit card or a loan on a borrowed sum of money. The interest rate is a percentage of the total amount owed that is added to the sum monthly or annually. These can vary drastically depending on the type of loan and the amount.

Kinship Guardian

  • A relative (or family friend) who takes on the care of a child in foster care. The relative becomes the child’s legal guardian, so the child is no longer in foster care–but the parent’s rights do not have to be terminated. In some instances, a kinship guardian may be eligible to receive some support for caring for the child (called Kinship Guardian Assistance Program, or KinGAP).


  • An individual that rents out properties to potential tenants.

Learner’s permit

  • An official document that allows an individual aged at least 15 years and 3 months to operate a motor vehicle; restrictions apply.


  • A contract between a landlord and a tenant that outlines the conditions for renting a property; these are usually very long but are extremely important as they define the terms of your living arrangement.

Legal Custody

  • Term given to a person or agency that has been given legal right to make major decisions affecting the best interest of a minor child. Includes the right to supervise and determine the care of the child.

Life skills

  • Counseling, education, housing, employment, and money management skills development, access to essential documents, and other appropriate services to help children or adolescents prepare for self-sufficiency.


  • A federally state funded healthcare program for foster care youth and others that cannot afford medical care. Youth who age out of foster care and do not have health insurance through their employer may stay on Medicaid till age 26.


  • Usually an experienced adult who counsels and advises youth.


  • Necessary paperwork that must be filed in court on the child’s behalf.

Payday lending

  • A small, short term loan often accompanied by a very high interest rate for repayment. These loans go by many names: payday loans, cash advance, post dated check loans. In order to get a payday loan you write a personal check to the lender for the amount you wish to borrow plus a small fee. The borrower gives you the amount of the check minus the fee. Interest rates are extremely high on these types of loans (i.e. up to 700%!) so these are never a good idea.

Payroll Stub

  • A part of a paycheck that one can use to provide proof of employment and income; especially useful when applying for a lease or credit card.

Permanent foster care

  • Long-term placement with a foster family usually in the case of children that have not yet been adopted.

Planned Parenthood

  • A non-profit organization that educates and offers advice to youth on issues like contraception and reproductive health.

Post Adoption Contact and Communication Agreement (PACCA)

  • An agreement between the adoptive parent(s) and birth parent(s) as to how much communication there will be between the child and his or her biological parent(s). This especially applies if you 14 or older.

Proof of Legal Presence

  • Providing documentation that one is legal US citizen or authorized to be in the US; necessary for obtaining a drivers license.

Public Assistance

  • Government benefits and assistance programs provided for those who cannot take care of these expenses themselves.

Public housing authority

  • A government agency that controls rental assistance programs for foster youth.


  • A person or persons that know you well enough to write a recommendation on your behalf. Rental applications and job applications are some examples of where a reference may be necessary.

Rental application

  • A form filled out by a potential tenant prior to moving into a rental property. There is usually a small fee associated with processing your application and may require a credit check, proof of employment. It is used to determine if the potential tenant is a good fit for the rental property.

Residential Facility

  • A 24-hour care facility for youth with special medical and/or behavioral health needs. Counselors and staff provide a variety of mental health services to foster youth with behavioral or emotional issues.

School Resource Officers

  • Police officers located in your public school. When questioned by a Resource Officer you have the right to request your lawyer be present.

Security deposit

  • A certain amount of money that the renter must pay up front when renting an apartment. It acts as collateral if the renter damages the property or breaks the lease. It can be no more than two months rent and is usually given back to the renter within 45 days of the end of the lease. Some of your deposit may be retained.

Service plan

  • Sometimes referred to as a Foster Care plan or permanency plan, these are designed to identify services necessary for accomplishing the foster care goal approved by the court while addressing the educational, mental and physical well-being of the child. See “Foster Care Plan,” above.

Special welfare account

  • State funds intended for the foster youth are placed in these accounts until the child turns 18. These monies can be used to help pay for expenses not covered by Social Services.

Social worker

  • An individual who has been trained to provide and coordinate emotional, physical, and behavioral support for those in foster care.

Summons for unlawful detainer

  • A notice that you must appear in court to face possible eviction from your property. This summons will list the total amount you owe if the eviction is based on non-payment of rent. It is wise to go to court even if you do not feel as though you have broken any rules or owe any money. Always try to talk to a lawyer before going to court on an unlawful detainer.

Supplemental Security Income

  • Cash assistance program for low-income disabled people that can help pay for basic living expenses.


  • When a student is temporarily restricted from attending school. This can happen for a variety of reasons included but not limited to unexcused absences, fighting, spitting etc. Depending on the offense, the student’s suspension can be a long term (10 days or longer) or short term (10 days or less) suspension. Long term suspension is accompanied by a letter home and the right to appeal.

Termination of Parental Rights

  • A legal process by which a court decides that a parent should no longer have a legal right to be the parent to their child. A parent’s rights must be terminated before a child can be adopted (have new legal parents). A child 14 or older has the right to veto termination (tell the court the parents’ rights should not be terminated). In some circumstances, children 14 or older whose parents’ rights have been terminated for more than two years but have not been adopted may also tell the court they’d like to have their parents rights restored.

Transition Plan

  • A plan completed by you and your social worker at least 90 days before you leave foster care if you are going to be 18 or older when you leave. This plan should assist foster youth in their transition from foster care to independent living and includes information on housing, health insurance, education, employment, and possible mentors.


  • These are public services like gas, electricity, water, and trash that are not typically included in the price of the rent. You are expected to pay for these services throughout the term of your lease.

Sexually-Transmitted Infection (or Disease)

  • An STI (sometimes called an STD) is an infection spread through sexual contact. Use of a condom in every sexual encounter can minimize the likelihood of gaining an STI.

Vocational school

  • An institution that trains students for specific careers and trades. One can attend a vocational school in order to learn a skilled trade like auto mechanics or nursing.


  • A tax form one receives showing one’s income and earnings. These are reported to the government by your employer, and one is needed from each employer for filing your taxes. If you work as a contract worker, you may receive a different form called a 1099.


  • Refers to a person giving testimony in a court case. This person usually has firsthand knowledge about the case. They can be an expert in a field or even a neighbor. In some cases, the child can serve as a witness.

Written warranty

  • Can be limited, meaning that the dealer as agreed to cover some of the costs of repairs for a limited amount of time or miles or full, meaning that the dealer will repair the car at no charge for a certain amount of time or miles.