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 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 7: Training for Prospective Adoptive Parents

Prospective adoptive parents complete required training to prepare them for adoption.

Note: Training must meet all applicable state requirements and for international adoptions training must also meet all requirements of 22 CFR Part 96.48 and the child’s country of origin.

NA The organization provides home study services only.
NA The organization provides post-placement and/or post-adoption 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
  • 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.
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.
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
    • Procedures for the provision of training and preparation of prospective adoptive parents including procedures for child specific training and preparation 
    • Table of contents or outline of training provided directly by the organization and/or a list of trainings provided by third parties
    • Informational materials that can be provided to prospective adoptive parents
    • Training curriculum for any training provided directly by the organization
    • Interviews may include:
      1. Program director
      2. Relevant personnel
      3. Clients
    • Review case records

  • AS 7.01

    Suitable training methods and standardized and individualized curricula are used by the program to ensure each prospective adoptive parent is adequately prepared for placement.

    Interpretation: The program may customize their training methods and curricula based on the types of adoptions they are involved with or the unique characteristics of clients served.  For example, relatives, foster parents or prospective adoptive parents who have already adopted another child through the program may not training in all areas as new prospective adoptive parents.     

    Interpretation: Examples of training methods found to be effective or commonly used include:
    1. in-person, group seminars;
    2. online training through webinars and self-paced trainings;
    3. recorded trainings and podcasts;
    4. reading and writing assignments; and
    5. individual counseling and training.

  • AS 7.02

    Prospective adoptive parents receive training and demonstrate competence in:

    1. the adoption process and significant provisions of laws and regulations;
    2. the availability of and application process for subsidies or other financial benefits;
    3. options for openness in adoption;
    4. the importance of legally finalizing the adoption and for obtaining and maintaining documentation of citizenship for children adopted internationally; and
    5. long term impacts of adoption on the child and the family; and
    6. the availability and importance of post adoption supports and services.

  • AS 7.03

    Prospective adoptive parents receive training and demonstrate competence in common experiences and needs of waiting and adopted children, including: 

    1. the general characteristics and needs of waiting children;
    2. separation, grief, and loss;
    3. the frequency and impact of physical, psychological and sexual abuse; neglect; and child trafficking;
    4. the impact of institutionalization and living in out of home care;
    5. the impact of malnutrition, maternal substance abuse, and any other common factors that impact on health and development; and
    6. attachment and bonding.

  • AS 7.04

    Prospective adoptive parents receive training and demonstrate competence in skills and strategies for helping children heal and thrive throughout their lives, including:

    1. coping with separation, loss and grief and supporting healthy attachments and relationships;
    2. navigating changing roles and relationships;
    3. supporting the child’s identity development;
    4. raising a child of a different race, ethnicity, culture, or religion and strategies for maintaining connections with the child’s culture, community, tribe, and/or country;
    5. responding effectively and safely to children’s behavior and unknown or unexpected issues, and adapting parenting strategies and discipline techniques to fit the child’s needs;
    6. recognizing signs of unknown or undisclosed abuse, effective strategies to support safe disclosure, and reporting abuse allegations to appropriate authorities;
    7. strategies for maintaining safety when there is a history of sexual abuse, trafficking, self-harming behavior, or other unsafe behavior; and
    8. overcoming barriers to seeking or obtaining help and support.

    Interpretation: Training on discipline techniques should include training on the risks associated with the use of interventions that can be harmful to children, especially children with a history of trauma. Some examples of interventions which can be harmful include but are not limited to:

    1. corporal punishment;
    2. interventions that involve withholding nutrition or hydration or that inflict physical or psychological pain;
    3. the use of demeaning, shaming, or degrading language or activities; and
    4. forced physical exercise as punishment or in excess.
    Interpretation: Having strategies and skills to navigate changing roles and relationships is especially important when the child and prospective adoptive parents are relatives, already know each other, or when some level of oppenness is being considered.

  • AS 7.05

    Prospective adoptive parents receive specialized training and demonstrate competency in parenting a child with a history of trauma.

    Interpretation: Training can include:

    1. recognizing trauma triggers and conditioned responses;
    2. developing skills to avoid actions or reactions that may trigger the child;
    3. providing emotional support in ways the child can accept and normalizing their feelings;
    4. strategies for relaxation;
    5. providing positive experiences to encourage self-esteem;
    6. providing age appropriate information and education about trauma to the child;
    7. providing age appropriate opportunities for choice and control; and
    8. recognizing, preventing, and addressing secondary trauma.

  • AS 7.06

    Prospective adoptive parents are provided or referred to needed customized education, counseling or support specific to their unique needs or experiences which may impact on their readiness and suitability for placement and the program reassesses the prospective adoptive parents when needed to ensure they remain ready and suitable to move forward with an adoption.

    Interpretation: Examples of unique needs and experiences can include, but are not limited to:

    1. prior history of trauma, mental illness, or substance use;
    2. experience of infertility, miscarriage, or loss of a child; and
    3. an unsuccessful adoption attempt or disruption or dissolution of an adoption.

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