Private Organization Accreditation

Family Services of Southeast Texas strengthens families through accessible, affordable counseling services and education for issues affecting family life, mental health and employment.  We also provide comprehensive domestic violence shelter and support services.


Advantage Credit Counseling Service

Mary Loftus, VP, Agency Service

Our agency is preparing for reaccreditation under the Eighth Edition Standards. The COA site is well organized and very easy to use. Our team of employees working on the reaccreditation process has found the tools index to be very helpful, particularly some of the templates.
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Adoption Services establish a permanent family for children and youth awaiting adoption, and increase the well-being and functioning of birth parents, adoptive families, and adopted individuals.

AS 2: Assessment

Individualized, strengths-based, family-focused, culturally-responsive assessments identify the needs of children and birth parents.

Interpretation: Assessments include the child study and the birth parent assessment.

Research Note: Tribal representatives, or individuals with knowledge of the tribe and tribal customs, should be involved in the assessment whenever possible and appropriate to improve the quality of the assessment by ensuring that it is culturally grounded and involves the family and tribal community.

NA The organization provides homestudy services only.

NA The organization provides post placement services only.

Rating Indicators
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.
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
  • Culturally responsive assessments are the norm and any issues with individual staff members are being addressed through performance evaluations (HR 6.02) and training (TS 2.05); or
  • Active client participation occurs to a considerable extent; or
  • Diagnostic tests are consistently and appropriately used, but interviews with staff indicate a need for more training (TS 2.08).
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
  • Assessment and reassessment timeframes are often missed; or
  • Assessment are sometimes not sufficiently individualized;
  • Culturally responsive assessments are not the norm and this is not being addressed in supervision or training; or
  • Staff are not competent to administer diagnostic tests , or tests are not being used when clinically indicated; or
  • Client participation is inconsistent; or
  • Assessments are done by referral source and no documentation and/or summary of required information present in case record; or
  • One of the Fundamental Practice Standards received a rating of 3 or 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.,
  • There are 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
    • Procedures for child assessments
    • Procedures for identification and collaboration in ICWA cases
    • Procedures for birth parent assessments
    • Assessment tools and/or criteria included in assessment
    • Indian Child Welfare Act information provided to families
    • Copies of tribal state agreements, when applicable
    • Interview:
      1. Program director
      2. Relevant personnel
      3. Parents
      4. Children
    • Review case records

  • AS 2.01

    The information gathered for assessments is limited to material pertinent to meeting service requests and objectives.

    NA The organization provides post placement services only.

  • AS 2.02

    Assessments are conducted in a strengths-based, culturally-responsive manner to identify resources that can increase service participation and support the achievement of agreed upon goals.

    Interpretation: Culturally-responsive assessments can include attention to geographic location, language, political status, tribal affiliation, and religious, racial, ethnic and cultural background. Other important factors that contribute to a responsive assessment include attention to age, sexual orientation, and developmental level.

  • AS 2.03

    An age-appropriate child study is conducted to assess the child’s readiness for adoption, and includes:

    1. an evaluation of the child’s ability to bond and develop relationships;
    2. history of maltreatment and prior placements;
    3. prenatal history and developmental screening of infants and young children;
    4. current medical and dental health examinations; and
    5. a psychological evaluation, if needed.

    Interpretation: The assessment is culturally grounded, reflects the child’s point of view, and considers the special needs of children and youth. Youth should be encouraged to discuss their interest in being adopted, and their understanding of adoption.

    Research Note: Research on attachment capabilities of adopted children suggests the need for service providers to be knowledgeable and sensitive when assessing the child’s ability to bond and develop ongoing relationships.

  • FP
    AS 2.04

    The organization identifies American Indian and Alaska Native children and collaborates with the tribe or Indian organization to:

    1. determine the applicability of, and ensure compliance with, the Indian Child Welfare Act;
    2. determine jurisdiction;
    3. assess the child’s needs;
    4. provide the family with information regarding their rights under the Indian Child Welfare Act;
    5. determine the most appropriate plan for the child; and
    6. maintain connections between the child, the child’s extended family, and his or her tribe.


    • Revised Standard - 10/31/17
      Element (f) was revised to include the child's extended family. The interpretation was revised and a research note was added to reflect new federal regulations and guidelines for determining ICWA applicability. 

    Interpretation: The organization should have established procedures for identifying American Indian and Alaska Native children to determine if the child or his/her biological parent(s) are members of a federally recognized Indian tribe, or if the child is eligible for membership in a federally recognized Indian tribe. Physical appearance, blood quantum, or perceived presence or absence of cultural cues within the family are not appropriate determinants of ICWA applicability. The organization should document efforts to identify and contact children’s tribes and if tribes are unknown the organization should contact the regional office of the Bureau of Indian Affairs to identify, locate, and notify the child’s tribe.

    Note: Evidence of tribal participation should be documented in the case record.

    Research Note: Early identification of American Indian and Alaska Native children is critical to ensuring that the requirements of ICWA are followed from the beginning of the case and preventing harmful placement delays or disruptions later in the proceedings. To facilitate accurate determinations of tribal membership, organizations should provide tribes with: parents’ genograms or family ancestry charts; parents’ maiden, married, and other known former names or aliases; parents’ current and former addresses; and parents’ places of birth and birthdates.

    Research Note: The Indian Child Welfare Act authorizes states and federally recognized tribes to enter into agreements governing the care and custody of American Indian and Alaska Native children and jurisdiction over child custody proceedings. Organizations should refer to tribal-state agreements and ICWA to determine what role each party should play in cases involving Indian children, and to ensure compliance with all relevant legal requirements.

  • FP
    AS 2.05

    Information is gathered from birth parents and maintained for the child’s future use, including:

    1. the child’s medical and social history;
    2. contact information for organizations, medical facilities, or others involved in services to the birth parents and the child;
    3. all available information about the medical and social history of the birth parents and the pregnancy; and
    4. photographs or a physical description of birth parents.


    • Revised Standard - 10/31/17
      An interpretation was added with additional information that should be gathered and maintained for American Indian or Alaska Native adoptees. 

    Interpretation: A birth parent’s social history can include information about: marital status, family history, tribal affiliation, employment, education, religion, interests, and talents. Provision of information by birth parents is voluntary, and necessary consent forms must be obtained. When the organization is unable to obtain this information, documentation of efforts to do so are included in the case record. The organization may consider how appropriate and necessary it is to keep identifying information in a separate record, and should seek legal consultation regarding the collection and maintenance of identifying information.

    In foster care adoptions, information from the foster care record should be obtained before the record is sealed, and appropriate information is shared with the prospective adoptive parents.

    Interpretation: In the case of an American Indian or Alaska Native child, information gathered should also include the child’s Certified Degree of Indian Blood and tribal membership card. To protect an American Indian or Alaska Native child’s rights to tribal enrollment or membership, the state agency, court, and private agency if applicable must also coordinate the preparation and maintenance of confidential records on all state adoptions of American Indian and Alaska Native children that include:

    1. a copy of the final adoption decree or order;
    2. the birth name and birthdate of the Indian child, their tribal affiliation, and the name of the child after adoption;
    3. names and addresses of the birth parents;
    4. names and addresses of the adoptive parents;
    5. name and contact information for any agency having files or information related to the adoption;</