WHO IS ACCREDITED?

Private Organization Accreditation

Germaine Lawrence is a residential treatment center for girls ages 12-18 with complex behavioral, psychological and learning challenges.   Girls live at our programs while receiving special education, individual, family and group therapy; psychiatric and primary medical care; and a wide variety of therapeutic activities and interventions.
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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 7: Pre-Adoption Services

Pre-adoption services prepare children, birth families, and prospective adoptive parents for adoption.

Interpretation: When the case involves an American Indian or Alaska Native child, resources offered by the tribe or a local Indian organization should be considered and prioritized.

NA The organization provides homestudy services only.

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 Pre-Adoption Services
    • Procedures for establishing continued contact and openness in adoption
    • Informational materials provided to birth parents
    • Orientation and informational materials provided to prospective adoptive parents
    • Interview:
      1. Program director
      2. Relevant personnel
      3. Parents
      4. Children
    • Review case records

  • AS 7.01

    Custody status of the child is clearly established before the initiation of adoption services, and the organization acts in accordance with federal and state regulations for legal proceedings to terminate parental rights.

    Interpretation: The child’s custody status may be as follows: the child is in the custody of a public agency and the birth parents’ rights have been terminated; the child’s birth parents have legal custody; or another organization or individual has legal custody.

    Note: The Indian Child Welfare Act includes provisions related to the termination of parental rights that apply to both public and private adoption proceedings.

    Research Note: Research suggests that court delays can be one of the greatest challenges in completing special needs adoptions.

    Research Note: Federal law permits American Indian and Alaska Native families to move forward with a customary adoption, without terminating parental rights. Customary adoptions, approved or adjudicated by the tribal court, are arranged through custom and tradition and allow for the transfer of custody while preserving parental rights.


  • AS 7.02

    Age-appropriate services that prepare the child for adoption include:

    1. opportunities to visit prospective adoptive parents, and preparation and support for such visits;
    2. counseling to help the child understand the adoption and cope with separation, loss, and birth family loyalty issues;
    3. consideration of continued contact with the birth parents, siblings, extended family, and the child’s tribe when one has been identified; and
    4. the development of a lifebook that describes the child’s personal history.

    Interpretation: Generally, a lifebook is completed for young children, and older children are actively engaged in developing their lifebook.

    Research Note: Contact with tribal relatives is commonly practiced among tribal communities and is believed to support the child’s cultural identity and an improved sense of belonging.

    Research Note: Consideration of continued contact with the birth family may be especially important for youth, who often have strong attachments. Research suggests that the amount of visitation between children and prospective adoptive parents can have an impact on adjustment. Researchers recommend the visitation schedule take into account the individual needs of the child and the prospective adoptive parents.


  • AS 7.03

    Birth parents who are interested in the continuum of openness in adoption receive information and counseling.

    Interpretation: The continuum of openness can range from the provision of identifying information about the birth family at the time of placement, to organization-mediated ongoing written communication, to frequent, in-person contact with birth family members. Counseling helps birth parents consider whether continued contact is in the best interest of the child, with whom the child might continue contact, and the type and frequency of contact. The organization should explain limitations on confidentiality and document in the case record the birth parents’ preferences regarding the disclosure of personal information.

    Research Note: While some early research on open adoption presented conflicting conclusions, recent studies have demonstrated that most birth parents involved in open adoptions are satisfied with the arrangement.


  • FP
    AS 7.04

    Birth parents are prepared for adoption through services that include:

    1. education about their legal rights and confidentiality;
    2. planning for participation in the adoption process when it is appropriate and desired;
    3. counseling and support to cope with voluntary or involuntary termination of parental rights, grief, separation, loss, and the lifelong implications of placing a child for adoption;
    4. discussion of changing roles and relationships when the birth parents will have an ongoing relationship with the adoptive family;
    5. education on issues related to search and reunion; and
    6. planning for the immediate future and referral for needed services.

    Research Note: Consent to voluntarily terminate parental rights is not valid unless it complies with specific procedural requirements outlined in the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), including that the consent be executed in writing, recorded before a judge, and accompanied by a certificate authenticating that the terms and consequences of voluntary termination were fully explained and understood. Parents of American Indian and Alaska Native children should be informed of their right, under ICWA, to withdraw consent and the process and timeframes for doing so.


  • AS 7.05

    Prospective adoptive parents participate in an orientation that includes the following:

    1. an overview of the lifelong process of adoption and its meaning;
    2. the process for completing an adoption;
    3. the needs of children awaiting adoptive families;
    4. benefits and responsibilities of openness in adoption and the range of openness;
    5. the availability of adoption subsidies and post-adoption services; and
    6. criteria used to determine eligibility for adoptive parenthood.

    Interpretation: Prospective adoptive parents who have adopted a child through the program previously may only need a refresher orientation.

    Interpretation: When the program facilitates adoptions by older caregivers, the orientation is tailored to include information about the capacity to provide permanency over time for the child. This material can cover the need for additional support, circumstances that may adversely impact the caregiver’s ability to care for the child, and plans for the child if the caregiver is unable to provide care.

    Research Note: While some early research on open adoption presented conflicting conclusions, studies have demonstrated that most adoptive parents involved in open adoptions are satisfied with the arrangement, and some desire even greater openness in the relationship with birth family members.

    Literature suggests that prospective adoptive parents considering a special needs adoption may have concerns about the costs of providing services for the child, and these concerns can impact their decision to proceed with the adoption.


  • AS 7.06

    Prospective adoptive parents are prepared for adoption through education, training, information, and support that address the following:

    1. attachment and bonding;
    2. possible impacts of adoption on the family;
    3. changing roles and relationships when the child and prospective adoptive parents already know each other;
    4. maintaining connections with the child’s community or tribe;
    5. child development and parenting techniques;
    6. raising a child of a different race, ethnicity, culture, or religion;
    7. caring for a child with special needs; and
    8. helping a child cope with separation and loss, history of maltreatment, and identity development.

    Update:

    • Added Interpretation - 10/31/17
      An interpretation was added to address pre-adoption training around the Indian Child Welfare Act.  

    Interpretation: Pre-adoption services should be tailored to the age range, cultural background,and needs of the children awaiting adoption, and the types of adoptions facilitated, for example, private, foster care, customary, or identified. Prospective adoptive parents that have already adopted another child through the program may only need refresher training.

    Interpretation: With regards to elements (d) and (f), training must include educating adoptive parents on the Indian Child Welfare Act, its impact on placement and permanency for American Indian and Alaska Native children, and the adoptive parents’ responsibilities for supporting the child’s cultural identity and facilitating connections to his or her tribe.

    Research Note: A preliminary study suggests that the organization consider the readiness of each prospective adoptive family, rather than relying only on the completion of training or other tasks.


  • AS 7.07

    When an open adoption is being planned, birth parents, prospective adoptive parents, and the child, as appropriate, receive assistance and support to:

    1. develop positive relationships;
    2. develop and agree on plans for continued contact; and
    3. decide how to resolve conflicts that can arise, and agree on a method for renegotiating the plan when necessary.
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