WHO IS ACCREDITED?

Private Organization Accreditation

Debt Education and Certification Foundation (DECAF), a private non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, provides high-quality financial education and counseling, with nationwide outreach throughout the U.S. DECAF is HUD-approved, and recognized as one of the 100 Best Companies to Work for in Texas.
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VOLUNTEER TESTIMONIAL

Harry Hunter, MSW, MBA, Ph.D.

Volunteer Roles: Peer Reviewer; Team Leader

Peer Reviewer for the month of January 2013, Dr. Hunter has been volunteering for COA since 2005, conducting five site reviews.
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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.

AS 12: Adoption Program Administration

The program has administrative policies, procedures and systems in place to ensure that adoption services are provided ethically and to ensure:

  1. adoptions take place in the best interests of children;
  2. the program has taken all appropriate actions to prevent the exploitation, sale, abduction, or trafficking of children; and
  3. persons whose consents are required give those consents freely without any undue influence; and
  4. fees and compensation paid do not inappropriately influence adoption decisions.

Note: Elements c and d might not be applicable to all programs.

Rating Indicators
1
All elements or requirements outlined in the standard are evident in practice, as indicated by full implementation of the practices outlined in the Practice standards.
2
Practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice standards; e.g.,
  • Minor inconsistencies and not yet fully developed practices are noted, however, these do not significantly impact service quality; or
  • Procedures need strengthening; or
  • With few exceptions procedures are understood by staff and are being used; or
  • For the most part, established timeframes are met; or
  • Proper documentation is the norm and any issues with individual staff members are being addressed through performance evaluations (HR 6.02) and training (TS 2.03); or
  • Active client participation occurs to a considerable extent.
3
Practice requires significant improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice standards. Service quality or program functioning may be compromised; e.g.,
  • Procedures and/or case record documentation need significant strengthening; or
  • Procedures are not well-understood or used appropriately; or
  • Timeframes are often missed; or
  • A number of client records are missing important information  or
  • Client participation is inconsistent; or
  • One of the Fundamental Practice Standards received a rating of 3 or 4.
4
Implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all, as noted in the ratings for the Practice standards; e.g.,
  • No written procedures, or procedures are clearly inadequate or not being used; or
  • Documentation is routinely incomplete and/or missing; or  
  • Two or more Fundamental Practice Standards received a rating of 3 or 4.

Table of Evidence

Self-Study Evidence On-Site Evidence On-Site Activities
    • Policy on ethical adoption practice
    • Compensation procedures
    • Procedures for donations
    • Fee policy and procedures
    • Fee schedule
    • Procedures for the collection of information, record keeping and retention, and information disclosure
    • Board minutes documenting the review and approval of policies relating to the adoption program
    • Documentation of licensure or credentials of collaborating organizations or individuals
    • Service agreements and contracts
    • Records of any complaints received in the last two years related to the adoption program
    • Interviews may include:
      1. Program director
      2. Relevant personnel
      3. Clients
    • Observe record storage area
    • Review financial records of compensation and fees paid by adoptive parents

  • AS 12.01

    The program has written policies and procedures in place which:

    1. prohibit its employees and agents from giving money or other consideration, directly or indirectly, to a child’s parent(s) or other individual(s), or entities as payment for the child or as an inducement to release the child;  
    2. prohibit compensation of any individual who locates or refers children, prospective birth mothers, or birth parents on a contingent or incentive basis; and
    3. when compensation is permitted or required to be paid directly or indirectly to individuals whose consents may be required, those payments are not excessive and are only for activities appropriately related to the adoption.

    Interpretation: Examples of activities appropriately related to the adoption include: 

    1. adoption proceedings, 
    2. pre-birth and birth medical costs, 
    3. care of the child, 
    4. care of the birth mother while pregnant and immediately following birth of the child, and 
    5. the provision of child welfare and child protection services generally. 
    Interpretation: Procedures should include provisions relating to documentation and close oversight of requested payments and actual compensation and purchase of services or goods.  The program reinforces these policies and procedures in periodic training for personnel, contractors or other agents acting on behalf of the program, and through information it provides to birth parents and prospective adoptive parents who might be involved in such payments. 


  • AS 12.02

    Compensation paid to program personnel and any other individuals directly or indirectly involved in providing adoption services:

    1. is not unreasonably high in relation to the services rendered and other appropriate factors;
    2. is on a fee-for-service, hourly wage, or salary basis rather than a contingent fee basis; and
    3. is only paid for services actually rendered or for reimbursement of appropriate expenses incurred.

    Interpretation: When the program allows for the payment of compensation in advance, the procedures detail how the advanced compensation will be returned to the program if services are not rendered.  

    This does not prohibit an organization or person from providing in-kind or other donations not intended to influence or affect a particular adoption.  


    Interpretation: Evaluation of the reasonableness of compensation can take into account, for example:

    1. norms for compensation in the region in which the adoption services are provided;
    2. norms for compensation within the adoption community;
    3. norms for compensation within the organization; 
    4. qualifications of staff; and
    5. workload requirements such as the scope and complexity of the work.


  • AS 12.03

    If it accepts or makes charitable donations, the program has safeguards in place in its policies and procedures to ensure that such donations do not influence child placement decisions in any way.

    Interpretation: Making donations to individuals or entities who are involved in obtaining or consenting to the adoption can compromise the integrity of the process.  When possible such arrangements should generally be avoided.  When such donations are made, the program should take significant steps to ensure the integrity of the process.


  • AS 12.04

    The program itemizes and discloses in writing the following information for each of the following separate category of fees and estimated expenses that the program may charge to prospective adoptive parent(s) in connection with an adoption:

    1. home study, including any fees for updates;
    2. placement or other program fee(s);
    3. fees charged by other individuals or entities in the United States;
    4. fees and expenses for the care of the child; 
    5. document and translation expenses;
    6. required donations or contributions;
    7. post-placement and post-adoption services;
    8. other third party fees; and
    9. travel and accommodation.

    Interpretation: Translation and document expenses can include costs for obtaining, translating, or copying records or documents required to complete the adoption, costs for court documents, and costs for notarizations and certifications.
     

    NA The organization does not charge prospective adoptive parents any fees for its services.


  • AS 12.05

    The program does not routinely charge additional fees and expenses beyond those disclosed in the adoption services contract and only collects and retains fees for services rendered.

    Interpretation: If the program charges fees in advance or the delivery of services, it should have procedures in place to accurately account for those funds, and must have procedures for refunding fees for services that are not rendered.

    NA The organization does not charge prospective adoptive parents any fees for its services.


  • AS 12.06

    The program returns any funds to which the prospective adoptive parent(s) may be entitled within sixty days.
     

    Interpretation: If fees are charged or paid in advance, best practice is to maintain the funds collected separately from general operating expenses so that they can be properly accounted for and refunded promptly when necessary.

    NA The program does not charge prospective adoptive parents any fees for its services.  


  • AS 12.07

    In accordance with applicable legal requirements and contractual obligations, the program makes readily available to the adoptee and the adoptive parent(s) upon request all non-identifying information in its custody about the adoptee’s health history or background and other information as appropriate.


  • AS 12.08

    The program ensures that personal data gathered or transmitted in connection with an adoption is used only for the purposes for which the information was gathered and safeguards sensitive individual information.


  • AS 12.09

    In the event that the program ceases to provide or is no longer permitted to provide adoption services, it has a plan for:

    1. transferring custody of adoption records that are subject to retention or archival requirements to an appropriate custodian and ensuring the future accessibility of those adoption records, and 
    2. transferring open cases to other programs.

    Interpretation: It can be helpful to detail transfer plans in an agreement with another adoption service provider in advance and to plan for how clients may be provided with choices in the transfer process.  The plan should also address the refunding of fees paid for services not yet rendered and expenses not yet incurred.


  • AS 12.10

    When working in collaboration with other individuals or organizations for the provision of adoption services, the program operates under a written agreement with that provider which specifies:

    1. the adoption services to be provided by each party;
    2. fees and compensation;
    3. applicable laws, regulations and standards that govern the provision of services;
    4. the lines of authority between the providers including who is responsible for oversight of the services provided
    5. terms and conditions for terminating the agreement;
    6. documentation, record keeping and confidentiality requirements; and
    7. timely communication and the exchange of information between the parties and with clients.

    Interpretation: Provisions relating to fees and compensation should articulate the amount of fees and compensation; which party will bill the client; conditions under which fees are paid and compensation is made including required documentation; and provisions for refunds.
     

    NA The organization does not collaborate with other providers.


  • AS 12.11

    The program conducts quality improvement activities appropriate to its size and circumstances and in coordination with the organization’s quality improvement program through which it makes systematic efforts to improve its adoption services as needed. 

    Interpretation: Examples can include: case record review; critical incident reviews; complaint reviews; outcomes measurement; business analytics; and client satisfaction.

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