WHO IS ACCREDITED?

Private Organization Accreditation

HeartShare assist individuals with developmental disabilities through education, day, residential and recreation programs, case management, and health services, and provides foster care/adoption services, counseling, after school and energy assistance programs, and programs for people with HIV/AIDS.
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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 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 3: Homestudy Practice

A collaborative homestudy process determines the interests, qualities, and abilities of prospective adoptive parents.

Note: Foster Care to Adoption programs will implement FKC 15 and AS 3.

Research Note: The Safe and Timely Interstate Placement of Foster Children Act of 2006 (H.R. 5403) requires that full faith and credit be given to any homestudy completed by another state or Indian tribe with respect to the placement of a child unless it is determined that placing the child on the basis of the contents of the report would be contrary to the child’s well-being.

NA The organization provides post placement services only.

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
    • A description of homestudy process and/or procedures
    • Homestudy tool and/or procedures
    • Procedures for background checks
No On-Site Evidence
    • Interview:
      1. Program director
      2. Relevant personnel

  • AS 3.01

    The information gathered for homestudies is limited to material pertinent to adoption.


  • AS 3.02

    The homestudy includes an assessment of:

    1. family relationships and functioning;
    2. education, employment, and financial status;
    3. parenting abilities and experiences;
    4. the home environment;
    5. physical and mental health status;
    6. cultural sensitivity and a willingness to support the child’s cultural ties; and
    7. interest in adoption.

    Interpretation: The homestudy assessment should include all adults and children living in the home, including the identification of roles and an assessment of each person’s ability to contribute positively to the child’s healthy development.

    Research Note: Research suggests that housing issues and health problems can delay kinship adoptions. Early identification of these barriers and provision of support and resources is recommended to facilitate permanency and stability.


  • AS 3.03

    Assessments are conducted in a culturally-responsive manner and identify strengths and opportunities to promote service participation and success.

    Update:

    • Revised Interpretation - 10/31/17

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

    Tribes and local Indian organizations may also be able to provide valuable support in assessing and approving adoptive families for American Indian and Alaska Native children. 


  • FP
    AS 3.04

    The homestudy is a collaborative process that helps the family decide if adoption is an appropriate goal, and includes:

    1. one or more visits to the prospective adoptive family’s home;
    2. reference checks;
    3. criminal background and child abuse and neglect registry checks for all adults living in the home according to applicable federal and state requirements; and
    4. preparation of a homestudy report with a recommendation regarding the family’s ability to meet the needs of an adopted child.

    Interpretation: The adoption worker can consider additional information offered by prospective adoptive families after they review the homestudy. The organization should develop criteria for criminal background checks that specifies if, and when, checks are conducted on a multi-state or national basis, and how the organization evaluates and responds to reports indicating criminal offenses. Prospective adoptive families should be informed at the beginning of the adoption process of the organization’s policy on criminal convictions.


  • AS 3.05

    The information gathered during the homestudy process is carefully considered, in a timely manner, to determine if:

    1. adoption services will be provided;
    2. a referral will be made to another provider when the strengths and abilities of suitable prospective adoptive families do not match the needs of the children awaiting families; or
    3. services will be terminated with explanation for persons found to be unable to meet the needs of a child who is adopted.

    Interpretation: Homestudies are completed within timeframes established by the organization.

    Research Note: Research suggests that completion of homestudies, especially in interstate adoptions, is a major factor that can delay adoptions and extend children’s stay in foster care.

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