Updated Standards for Homelessness Services Now Available

Best practices in addressing homelessness are now incorporated in COA’s standards for homelessness services

Private // Public // Canadian

In 2015, an estimated 1.48 million individuals experienced sheltered homelessness in the United States, including families with children, youth, veterans, and persons with one or more disability. This number does not account for those living on the street, in cars, tent encampments, parks, hotels and motels, or doubling up with family and friends due to economic hardship. It also does not include the nearly 350,000 individuals living in permanent supportive housing.

To support the organizations serving these vulnerable children, youth, families, and adults, COA collaborated with a panel of experts from the homelessness field, as well as COA accredited organizations, to review and update the Supported Living Services (SCL), Shelter Services (SH), and Outreach Services (OS) standards. 

Renaming and restructuring:

  • SCL has been renamed Housing Stabilization and Community Living Services (HSCL) to better reflect the program models assigned this section
  • Transitional Housing programs will be reviewed under Shelter Services (SH) to provide a better program model fit

The updated standards highlight these key best practices:

  • identifying and supporting the needs of children and youth (SH 3, SH 7, HSCL 3, HSCL 4, HSCL 7)
  • supporting pregnant and parenting individuals (SH 9, HSCL 7)
  • safety and inclusiveness for individuals identifying as LGBTQ (SH 3, SH 5, SH 7, SH 8, SH 11, SH 13, HSCL 3, HSCL 6, HSCL 8, HSCL 11, OS 3, OS 5, OS 7)
  • family reconnection and reconciliation for youth (SH 3, SH 12, HSCL 4)
  • trauma-informed care (SH 1, SH 3, SH 13, HSCL 1, HSCL 3, HSCL 11, OS 1, OS 3, OS 7)
  • suicide prevention (SH 3, SH 13, HSCL 3, HSCL 11, OS 3, OS 7)
  • staff training and qualifications (SH 13, HSCL 11, OS 7)

Learn more about these updates:

Private: HSCLSH and OS
Public: PA-HSCL, PA-SH and PA-OS
Canadian: CA-HSCLCA-SH and CA-OS


Private Organization Accreditation

Germaine Lawrence is a residential treatment center for girls ages 12-18 with complex behavioral, psychological and learning challenges.   Girls live at our programs while receiving special education, individual, family and group therapy; psychiatric and primary medical care; and a wide variety of therapeutic activities and interventions.


Holy Family Institute

Sister Linda Yankoski, President/CEO

The Council On Accreditation provides all stakeholders involved in the delivery of social services the assurance that the organization is credible, effective, and is committed to quality improvement. The COA process is an important tool for anyone involved in leading an organization to establish best practices and maintaining and updating these practices over time.
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