WHO IS ACCREDITED?

Private Organization Accreditation

Lutheran Social Services of New England is a high-performing nonprofit organization. LSS is a powerful difference maker and go-to resource, driving ourselves to constantly anticipate futures that are different from the past. For 140 years, LSS has been caring for people in need in New England.
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ORGANIZATION TESTIMONIAL

Family Services of the North Shore

Kathleen Whyte, Manager of Human Resources / Accreditation Coordinator

Family Services of the North Shore is about to enter our third accreditation cycle with COA. Accreditation has provided us with a framework that enables us to demonstrate accountability to our clients, our funders and our donors. There is no question that the accreditation process and COA have benefited our agency.
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Purpose

Adoption programs establish permanent family relationships for children in need of permanency, and increase the well-being, functioning, and stability of children, birth parents, adoptive families, and adopted individuals.

Definition

Adoption programs provide services which may include: providing information about adoption, assessments, home studies, training, counseling, support, preparation, matching, placement, and post placement/post-adoption services to facilitate permanent caring relationships within families for children and youth.

Update:

  • Revised Standard - 11/30/18
    The AS standards were significantly revised to reflect current best practice and incorporate intercountry adoption programs. 

Note: COA’s standards are written to encompass best practices associated with all types of adoption and include standards for services provided to all members of the adoption triad. COA’s standards are designed to be used by programs that provide some or all of the services in an adoption and programs that provide services to some or all members of the adoption triad. In particular, COA recognizes that some programs focus primarily on providing home studies, training, and/or post-adoption services, and that the services foster care adoptions can be limited based on the service delivery model structured by the public agency. Some standards include an option of “not-applicable” but many standards are written to be inclusive of all types of adoption programs so that at least one or more elements of the standard are applicable.

Note: Home study programs will be reviewed under AS 1, 2, 6, 12, and 13 only.

Post-placement/Post-adoption programs will complete: AS 1, 2, 11, 12, and 13 only.

Foster-to-adopt programs will complete all of FKC and AS 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, and 12 only. 

Note:  The use of language in adoption is complex, sensitive, and evolving and COA selected language commonly in use at the time the standards were updated. Certain terms are used for broader applicability and ease of use throughout the standards.  For example: The term “children” includes infants, toddlers, school-age children, and youth. The terms “American Indian and Alaska Native”, “Indian”, and “Native” are used throughout the standards to refer to children or families who are members of federally recognized tribes and protected under the Indian Child Welfare Act as well as to agencies or organizations that belong to or advocate on behalf of tribes. The term “birth parents” includes expectant parents and parents who are considering or have made a plan for adoption, and generally includes the birth mother and birth father. COA’s standards do not further define birth father. State laws provide more specific definitions and requirements in relation to birth fathers and use terms such as legal or presumed father and alleged or putative father. The term “prospective adoptive parents” generally includes foster parents, kinship caregivers, relatives, single individuals, and couples.  

Note: When the case involves an American Indian or Alaska Native child, the organization should engage and collaborate with the child’s tribe throughout the provision of adoption services as outlined in the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), which establishes "minimum federal standards" governing state proceedings involving American Indian and Alaska Native children. Updates to the federal regulations and guidelines were made in 2016 and went into effect for all child custody proceedings initiated on or after December 12, 2016, irrespective of any previously initiated proceedings. Organizations must have established procedures for identifying and serving American Indian and Alaska native children and families that articulate their role in the context of tribal-state child welfare agreements, ICWA, and any relevant state laws pertaining specifically to Indian child welfare. 

ICWA requires the inclusion of tribal representatives throughout all aspects of service delivery including, but not limited to, assessment, service planning, permanency planning, and case closing. Additional opportunities for inclusion are identified in the standards. While collaboration with federally recognized tribes is required by ICWA, organizations should reach out to tribal representatives in cases involving federally non-recognized tribes as well, as their involvement in the case will improve access to culturally-relevant resources and help establish permanency through a heightened sense of belonging and connectivity to the child’s extended family, clan, or tribe.

While local Indian organizations are not granted the same rights as federally recognized tribes under the Indian Child Welfare Act, there may be circumstances under which their involvement is necessary and appropriate. These organizations can facilitate the child’s connection to his or her tribe, inform the family and the organization of services available to the child, act as an advocate for the Indian child and his or her family, and provide ongoing support and information. This involvement is particularly important when the child’s tribe does not have the infrastructure to participate formally in the case.


Note: The Adoption Services (AS) standards were revised in November 2018 to reflect current best practice. For more information, please see the AS Standards Updates Summary

Adoption Services Narrative

Self-Study Evidence
    • Provide an overview of the different services being accredited under this section. The overview should describe:
      1. eligibility criteria;
      2. any unique or special services provided to specific populations; and
      3. major funding streams.
    • If elements of the service (e.g., assessments) are provided by contract with outside programs or through participation in a formal, coordinated service delivery system, provide a list that identifies the providers and the service components for which they are responsible. Do not include services provided by referral.
    • Provide any other information you would like the peer review team to know about these programs.
    • A demographic profile of clients served by the programs being reviewed under this service section with percentages representing the following:
      1. racial and ethnic characteristics;
      2. gender/gender identity;
      3. age;
      4. major religious groups; and
      5. major language groups
    • As applicable, a list of support groups or training provided directly by the program including, for each group or class:
      1. the type and name of support group/training;
      2. whether the support group/training is short-term or ongoing;
      3. how often the support group/training is offered or a description of the frequency of activity in online support groups;
      4. name of the model used if the support group or training is based on an established, standardized, or national model; and
      5. the average number of participants per session of the support group/training, in the last quarter and/or number of participants enrolled in the most recent training series/session.
    • A list of any programs that were opened, merged with other programs or services, or closed
    • A list or description of program outcomes and outputs being measured
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