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Group Home

Also referred to as residential or congregate care, a group home is a licensed facility that provides out-of-home care for a group of children who have physical or behavioral needs that require the structure and services of residential or group settings. 


Guardian ad Litem (GAL)

A lawyer or lay person assigned by the court to represent a child in juvenile or family court is referred to as Guardian ad Litem (GAL). Usually, this person considers the best interest of the child and may perform a variety of roles, including those of independent investigator, advocate, advisor, and guardian for the child. A lay person who serves in this role is sometimes known as a court appointed special advocate or CASA.



Also referred to as legal guardianship, guardianship is established by court order and grants custody to someone who is not the child's parent. Caregivers can assume legal guardianship of a child in out-of-home care without termination of parental rights, as is required for an adoption. The guardian is granted full custody of the child with the right to make most decisions regarding the child’s health, education, and care until the child is 18 years old. Legal guardianship is more durable but more complex than transfer of custody to caregivers. Guardianship is most frequently used by relative caregivers who wish to provide a permanent home for the child and maintain relationships with extended family members. See also subsidized guardianship and Relative Guardianship Assistance (RGAP).