A-Z Glossary

Many adoption, foster care and child welfare vocabulary are subject to interpretation. This glossary identifies commonly held definitions for terminology that can be found in the field. It defines common acronyms and provides comprehensive definitions for a broad range of terms. The glossary will be updated as new terminology emerges in the field and as new legislation is enacted.

There are 14 names in this directory beginning with the letter M.
Physical abuse, child neglect, sexual abuse and emotional abuse. Federal CAPTA legislation (P.L. 104-235) provides definitions that identify a minimum set of acts or behaviors that characterize maltreatment. Each state is responsible for providing its own definitions of child abuse and neglect within the state’s civil and criminal context.
Mandated Reporter
Individuals required by state statutes to report suspected child abuse and neglect to the proper authorities (usually CPS or law enforcement agencies). Mandated reporters typically include professionals, such as educators and other school personnel, health care and mental health professionals, social workers, childcare providers and law enforcement officers. Some states identify all citizens as mandated reporters.
The process of finding prospective families specifically suited to meet the needs of a waiting child, not to be confused with placement.
Maternity Home
Residence for pregnant women. The number of homes has decreased over the past three decades, and existing homes often have a waiting list of women. The women who live in a maternity home may pay a small fee or no fee to live in the home and they often apply for public assistance and Medicaid payments.
Mental Illness
Mental illnesses are often medical conditions that disrupt a person's thinking, feeling, mood, communication skills and overall functioning. Often people with mental illness have a hard time coping with the everyday demands of life. Serious mental illnesses include major Depression, Schizophrenia, Bipolar disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Panic disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Borderline Personality Disorder. The good news about mental illness is that treatment and sometimes recovery is possible, however the diagnosed individual must follow a treatment plan which may include medication, psychosocial or behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, support groups, and other community based services. Mental illness affects people of all ages, race, religion, or socio-economic background. Mental illnesses are not the result of personal weakness, lack of character or poor upbringing. Many mental illnesses are known to be heredity while others are exacerbated or brought on due to environment or traumatic experiences.
Mental Retardation
No longer a preferred term, this is meant to describe impaired or incomplete intellectual development characterized by an IQ of 70 or below and characterized by significant functional limitations in at least two of the following skills: communication, self-care, home living, social/interpersonal skills, use of community resources, self-direction, functional academic skills, work, leisure, health and safety. Onset usually occurs before age 18. More than 200 specific causes of mental retardation have been identified. Degrees of severity reflect the level of intellectual impairment: Mild Mental Retardation - IQ level 50-55 to approximately 70; Moderate Retardation - IQ level 35-40 to 50-55; Severe Mental Retardation - IQ level 20-25 to 35-40; Profound Mental Retardation - IQ level below 20-25. Developmental disabilities and cognitive challenges are preferred terms.
Acronym for Multi-Ethnic Placement Act of 1994. A federal law, the Multi-Ethnic Placement Act of 1994 prohibits the denial or delay of a child’s placement in a home due to the child’s or adoptive family’s race, color, or national origin. The law states that any person or government involved in adoption or foster care placements may not "deny to any person the opportunity to become an adoptive or foster parent, on the basis of the race, color, or national origin of the person or the child involved." The law also states that any person or government involved in adoption or foster care placements may not "delay or deny the placement of a child for adoption or into foster care, on the basis of race, color, or national origin of the adoptive or foster parent, or the child involved." In addition, the law requires child welfare service agencies to "provide for the diligent recruitment of potential foster and adoptive families that reflects the ethnic and racial diversity of children in the State for whom foster and adoptive homes are needed." The Multiethnic Placement Act was amended in 1996 by the addition of the Interethnic Adoption Provisions. Neither piece of legislation has any effect on the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978.
Methadone is a synthetic analgesic drug that is often used as a substitute to treat morphine and heroin addiction. Methadone is a powerful narcotic drug in the opiate family.
Often referred to as “Meth” or other street names including: Chalk, Crank, Croak, Crypto, Crystal, Fire, Glass, Meth, Tweek, and White Cross. It is a central nervous system stimulant that is highly addictive and is similar to amphetamine used as the hydrochloride salt in the treatment of ADHD. Methamphetamine is a crystal-like powdered substance that sometimes comes in large rock-like chunks. When the powder flakes off the rock, the shards look like glass. Methamphetamine can be taken orally, injected, snorted, or smoked.
Minority Children
Children of partial or full non-Caucasian parentage, or mixed Caucasian and non-Caucasian heritage.
When a foreign country temporarily closes its international adoption program for reasons such as in order to restructure their programs.
Multi-Ethnic Placement Act (MEPA)
A federal law enacted in 1994 and implemented through state policy. The Multi-Ethnic Placement Act of 1994, as amended, P.L. 103-382 [42 USC 622] prohibits the delay or denial of any adoption or placement in foster care due to the race, color or national origin of the child or of the foster or adoptive parents and requires states to provide for diligent recruitment of potential foster and adoptive families who reflect the ethnic and racial diversity of children for whom homes are needed. The 1996 amendment, Section 1808 of P.L. 104-188, Removal of Barriers to Interethnic Adoption, affirms the prohibition against delaying or denying the placement of a child for adoption or foster care on the basis of race, color or national origin of the foster or adoptive parents or of the child involved [42 USC 1996b].
Refers to a child that has heritage of two or more races.
Multidisciplinary Team
Established between agencies and professionals to discuss the best interest of a child at various stages. These terms may also be designated by different names, including child protection teams, interdisciplinary teams or case consultation teams.

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