State Diction

May 6, 2008

It is amazing to me how different states use *almost* the same words to describe child welfare. The first example is what they call their respective departments. A sampling:

  • Oregon: Dept. of Human Services, DHS
  • Massachusetts: Dept. of Social Services, DSS
  • Washington: Dept. of Social & Health Services, DSHS
  • Illinois: Dept. of Children & Family Services, DCFS
  • Texas: Dept. of Family & Protective Services, DFPS
  • New York: Office of Children & Family Services, OCFS
  • Florida: Dept. of Children & Families, DCF

Of course this is not limited to the name of the dept (or office). In Washington a report of child maltreatment is called a referral and the person making it is a referrer. In Massachusetts, it is known as “filing a 51A.”

So what is the point of all this? Well, I get the lovely task of *almost* knowing what people are talking about while I am learning a new state’s system. I feel like I am constantly translating terms and comparing and contrasting so that I am grasping how this system works. I wonder if it gets easier as I learn more states’ systems (I am on my third now) or if gets harder as there is more to decipher through. (I am leaning towards that it gets easier, but maybe I am just telling myself that). But it definitely makes me want to be a little less transient.