WHO IS ACCREDITED?

Private Organization Accreditation

Sweetser, a Maine non-profit agency operating since 1828, provides comprehensive mental and behavioral health and substance abuse treatment services. Statewide, it serves around 15,000 consumers a year, including children, adults, and families in outpatient, office-based, and residential settings.
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VOLUNTEER TESTIMONIAL

Jane Bonk, Ph.D., LCSW

Volunteer Roles: Commissioner; Evaluator; Lead Evaluator; Peer Reviewer; Team Leader

Dr. Jane Bonk is a team leader, evaluator, and commissioner who has led over 25 site visits for COA.
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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 8: Consents, Matching, Referral, and Placement

The program ensures consents are obtained properly and makes diligent and timely efforts to match and place children with prospective adoptive parents who can meet their needs for safety, well-being, and permanency.

Note: Foster Care to Adoption programs will implement FKC 6 and AS 8.

NA The organization provides home study services only.

NA The organization provides post placement and/or post-adoption 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
    • Procedures for identifying, locating, and providing notice to individuals whose notice and consent is required
    • Procedures for obtaining consents
    • Procedures for matching and referrals
    • Tools used for providing notice, obtaining consents, matching, and referrals
    • Procedures for placement and child transfers
    • Documentation of tribal participation in placement process, when applicable 
    • Interviews may include:
      1. Program director
      2. Relevant personnel
      3. clients
    • Review case records

  • AS 8.01

    Custody status and applicable notice and consent requirements are determined as early as possible.

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


  • FP
    AS 8.02

    The program ensures timely and diligent efforts to locate and provide notice to all parties who require notification or whose consent is required and documents such efforts in the case record.

    Interpretation: The program takes steps to prevent actions or practices that could limit or otherwise compromise a party’s someone’s rights to notice and consent. 

    Examples of steps that can be taken include:
    1. implementation of procedures that articulate methods for follow up on inconsistent or incomplete information about someone whose notice or consent may be required;
    2. detailing important due dates and careful review and oversight of completion of required tasks;
    3. establishing a procedure to address determination of jurisdiction and change of jurisdiction; and
    4. verifying through careful review of relevant documentation and any other necessary steps that notice and consent requirements have been met when those steps are completed by another provider.

    NA The program only provides services in cases where birth parents rights have already been terminated.


  • FP
    AS 8.03

    When obtaining consents to adoption the program ensures all applicable legal requirements are met and verifies each individual providing consent:

    1. has read the necessary documents and had their questions about those documents answered;
    2. understands of the significance and meaning of the information in the documents;
    3. has had sufficient time to consider the decision;
    4. is not under the influence of any substances or conditions that could compromise their understanding or decision making;
    5. understands the need for their consent and any conditions under which they can revoke their consent;
    6. has not experienced any undue pressure or duress for their consent;
    7. has not received or been promised any compensation or other consideration in exchange for their consent; and
    8. is not aware of any fraud having been committed in relation to the adoption.

    NA The program only provides services in cases where birth parents rights have already been terminated.


  • AS 8.04

    The program assess all available information about the birth parents, the child, and prospective adoptive parents, including expressed preferences and determines which prospective adoptive parents may be most suitable to meet the needs of the child.

    Interpretation: Children are encouraged to participate in the matching process to the greatest extent possible given their age and developmental level.

    Interpretation: An organization that has responsibility for placing an American Indian or Alaska Native child should work closely with the child’s tribe to identify adoptive homes within the tribal community. Families from all tribes to which the child has ties should be considered as placement options, and eligibility should be consistent with the norms of the tribe.
     

    Interpretation: Some circumstances which can make transition more difficult and have been found to be factors in some disruptions and dissolutions include:
    1. placement of more than one unrelated child into a home at the same time; or
    2. placement of a child too soon after the birth or addition of another child to the family.
    The program might generally avoid matching children with prospective adoptive parents in these circumstances or take additional steps to prepare for and support such  placements.

    Note: Documentation of which prospective adoptive parents were considered and should be included in the case record.


  • AS 8.05

    The program provides information about the prospective adoptive parents who were identified as possible matches to the birth parents, the youth, and/or the individual(s) who are responsible for making the placement decision and documents the provision of this information in its records.

    Interpretation: Children are encouraged to participate in the decision-making process to the greatest extent possible given their age and developmental level.


  • AS 8.06

    The program incorporates provisions of applicable law and regulations for placement preferences and matching into its established criteria for determining or making recommendations about the best interests of the child, makes placement decisions based on this criteria, and documents the decision in its records.  

    Interpretation: In cases where expectant parents have made an adoption plan prior to the child’s birth, the program can make or support a preliminary match before the birth, and makes a final decision or recommendation on the match only after the child is born and the child study is completed and reviewed.  

    Interpretation: Programs must follow guidelines set forth in the Multi-Ethnic Placement Act and the Indian Child Welfare Act and should take into account birth parents expressed desires and the importance of keeping siblings together.  When there is any conflict in these preferences or priorities the organization engages administrative personnel and legal counsel as needed to make its decision and carefully documents its deliberations and a rationale for its decision.

    Interpretation: When the organization is working with American Indian and Alaska Native children and families, tribal representatives and service providers must be involved in placement decisions and placement changes in order to ensure compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act, which requires that preference be given to families in the following order: 

    1. a member of the child’s extended family;
    2. families who are members of the child’s tribe; and
    3. other American Indian or Alaska Native families.
    Alternative placement preferences established by the child’s tribe may apply, and the court may also take into consideration the preferences of the child or his/her birth parents. 

    Note: When the program does not have responsibility for making the decision, it provides input in the process whenever possible and/or reviews the placement decision and provides feedback when necessary to express any questions or concerns about the match.


  • AS 8.07

    The program notifies prospective adoptive parents of the match and provides a referral package which includes the child study and all non-identifying information that can be provided.

    Note: The organization must not withhold or misrepresent any information concerning the child. Intentional misrepresentation or concealment or withholding of information can put the organization at risk for litigation and can negatively impact children and families. Practices that may limit exposure to liability include: informing prospective adoptive parents in advance of any limits on information gathering and disclosure, maintaining detailed records of the collection and provision of information, providing information in writing rather than or in addition to providing it verbally, and training staff on procedures for collecting and disclosing information and documentation requirements.


  • AS 8.08

    The program allows the prospective adoptive parents at least two weeks to consider the match and provides information, counseling, training, and ongoing assessment of the suitability of the match in light of the information in the referral and the home study. 

    Interpretation: The prospective adoptive parents should have a minimum of two weeks to make a decision and should have sufficient time to give careful thought and consideration into the decision. While there may be circumstances where the child’s needs are significant and the child would benefit from a shorter timeframe, the program must still take steps to ensure the prospective parents have given careful thought and consideration into their decision.  

    Interpretation: Examples of factors which might need to be considered include:

    1. the child’s medical, developmental, mental health needs in relation to the information contained in the referral;
    2. risks of unknown or undiagnosed issues or conditions common to the child’s history or circumstances;
    3. impact on all parties when there are other children or adults living frequently in the home;
    4. adaptations that might be required to the home;
    5. alignment with expectations;
    6. access to resources the child will need; and
    7. assessment of ability to meet the child’s lifelong needs.
    Prospective adoptive parents often seek the services of skilled professionals to evaluate medical and developmental information included in the referral.


  • AS 8.09

    The program takes all appropriate measures to ensure that the transfer of the child takes place in secure and appropriate circumstances, with properly trained and qualified escorts, if used.

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