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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ORGANIZATION TESTIMONIAL

The Village for Families & Children, Inc.

Galo A. Rodriguez, M.P.H., President & CEO

COA Peer Reviewers demonstrated their expertise through their knowledge of COA standards as well as experience in the behavioral health field. In addition, COA’s seminars and tools were very helpful in guiding us through the accreditation process.
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Purpose

Children in Family Foster Care and Kinship Care live in safe, stable, nurturing, and typically temporary family settings that best provide the continuity of care to preserve relationships, promote well-being, and ensure permanency.

Definition

Family Foster Care and Kinship Care Programs work with parents, children, and caregivers to provide children with safe, stable, nurturing, and often temporary care in family settings, that promotes well-being and ensures strong connections with family, peers, and community. When children are separated from their families due to maltreatment or other family circumstances, services and supports are provided to facilitate reunification and stability, and ensure that all children have permanent living arrangements as well as safe and nurturing relationships that will endure over time.
 
Family Foster Care is provided by foster parents who volunteer to bring children into their families and give them opportunities for family and community living. Foster parents are recruited, assessed, selected, credentialed, trained and retained for this voluntary role. Foster parents always care for children in the custody of the local child welfare agency and serve as partners in child protection, well-being, and permanency.

Kinship Care is the full-time care of children by relatives, members of tribes or clans, or anyone to whom a family relationship is ascribed.  Kinship caregivers may provide care through arrangements made privately or informally in the family, or through arrangements made with the involvement and oversight of the local child welfare agency. In some jurisdictions or circumstances kin may serve as foster parents. Kinship care builds on the strengths of family relationships and ensures children’s continued connections to their family networks and community supports, while recognizing that the entire family (children, parents, and kinship caregivers) may need an array of services. Their natural role, the dynamics of family relationships, and the strengths and needs of kin requires that organizations form strong collaborations with kinship caregivers in order to best promote permanency and the preservation of families.
 
Treatment Foster Care Services provide a therapeutic family environment and intensive clinical services, to children whose medical, developmental or psychiatric needs cannot be met by their families or in traditional family foster care. With the support of a multidisciplinary treatment team, specially trained foster parents provide nurturing care and treatment-based interventions that promote improved functioning. Children may have: severe emotional or behavioural disturbances; physical disabilities; developmental disabilities; severe or life threatening illnesses; or conditions that require the routine use of a medical device and/or daily ongoing care or monitoring.
 
Standards Assignment Criteria
 
The Family Foster Care and Kinship Care Standards accommodate an array of programs that support and empower families when children are in need of temporary care in a family environment, including:
  • Family Foster Care Services
  • Treatment Foster Care Services
  • Foster to Adoption Services
  • Family Foster Care Case Management Services
  • Family Foster Care Home Services
  • Formal and informal Kinship Care Services
The way in which the standards are applied and implemented will depend on the type of service and targeted service recipients, as well as the organization’s role and responsibilities as defined by the local child welfare agency. Please refer to the Family Foster Care and Kinship Care (FKC) Standards Assignment Criteria Chart for a list of applicable standards by program model. 

Update:

  • Revised Standard - 05/07/18
    The Family Foster Care and Kinship Care standards were revised in May 2018 to reflect current best practice. 

Research Note: The disproportional representation of some groups of children and families of color within the child welfare system, and the disparity in service delivery and outcomes for children and families depending on racial and ethnic group membership has been well documented. Research has identified at least four contributing factors to the overrepresentation of certain groups of children of color in child welfare: poverty, racial bias, inadequate access to services, and challenges in finding permanent homes. Analyzing policies, procedures and practices through a racial equity lens has been identified as an important step for addressing disproportionality and reducing disparities.  A racial equity lens focuses on how race and ethnicity shape access to resources, treatment, and experiences with power, from a contemporary and historical perspective.

Research Note: Each province and territory governs its own child welfare proceedings involving Aboriginal children in the child welfare system. Organizations must have established procedures for determining if children have Aboriginal heritage and collaborate with Aboriginal service organizations to determine their role in the context of tribal child welfare agreements, and any relevant provincial or territorial laws pertaining specifically to Aboriginal child welfare.
 
Organizations should be familiar with the relevant legal requirements of the Aboriginal child welfare laws of the province or territory and all policies, procedures, and agency documentation should be designed to ensure compliance.  Tribal representatives should be included throughout all aspects of service delivery, including, but not limited to, assessment, service planning, permanency planning, case closing, and aftercare. 
 
Tribes serve as an important resource to child welfare agencies and organizations working with Aboriginal children. Tribes can facilitate children’s connections to their culture and tribal government, inform families and the organization of culturally relevant services available to children, act as advocates for Aboriginal children and their families, and provide ongoing support and information as case plans are created and permanency goals are set. Actively seeking tribal involvement is particularly important when children’s tribes do not have the infrastructure to participate formally in the court case or when the tribes are geographically distant from the children’s families or homes and their participation is somewhat limited.
 
Working with tribal families also requires organizations to have a basic understanding of the historic treatment of Aboriginal children and families by child welfare systems. This treatment has left many Aboriginal families and communities to struggle with intergenerational and historical trauma that must be considered in assessment, planning, service delivery, and aftercare.

Research Note: The importance of providing trauma-informed care is reinforced by a growing body of research on the impact of adverse childhood experiences and a federal policy focus that compels child and family-serving systems to ensure children’s social and emotional well-being. 
 
A national network of providers, researchers and families working collaboratively to raise the standard of care has defined a trauma-informed organization as one in which all programs: 
  1. routinely screen for trauma exposure and related symptoms; 
  2. use culturally appropriate evidence-based assessment and treatment for traumatic stress and associated mental health symptoms; 
  3. make resources available to children, families, and providers on trauma exposure, its impact, and treatment; 
  4. engage in efforts to strengthen the resilience and protective factors of children and families impacted by and vulnerable to trauma; 
  5. address parent and caregiver trauma and its impact on the family system; 
  6. emphasize continuity of care and collaboration across child-serving systems; and
  7. maintain an environment of care for staff that addresses, minimizes, and treats secondary traumatic stress, and that increases staff resilience.
Research Note: Organizations that provide Family Foster Care and Kinship Care Services should be familiar with the issue of human trafficking.  The UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children defines “trafficking in persons” as: The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring, or receipt of persons,  by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs. Any child (under the age of majority) engaged in commercial sex (including prostitution, pornography, stripping) is a victim of trafficking. Increasingly, first responders, including law enforcement and social service providers, are being trained to seek support services for human trafficking victims rather than prosecuting them for activities they may have engaged in while being trafficked, such as prostitution, theft, undocumented status, and wage/hour violations.  Recognizing that these individuals are victims rather than criminals is a paradigm shift still under way in our society. This paradigm shift is critical as trafficking victims are eligible for services and protections by law that may not be provided to them otherwise.

Note: The following definitions apply throughout this section of standards:?
  • The term “children” includes infants, toddlers, school-age children, and youth, including youth in care after age eighteen. The term “youth” is used only when standards refer directly to services for older children, generally fourteen years old and up. 
  • The terms “parent” and “family” typically refer to a child’s biological parents and/or family of origin, but can also refer to anyone who is the child’s guardian or primary caregiver prior to child welfare involvement. For example, while core concepts addressing “Services for Parents” and “Family Reunification” are typically for birth parents, they can also be applicable to other primary caregivers from whom the child was separated due to maltreatment concerns. “Parent” and “family” are also used to refer to adoptive parents and families and legal guardians in the core concepts that refer to expectations and supports for these families. However, the term “family” is typically not intended to include “resource families,” which are defined separately below, except when referencing the extended family that may include related kinship caregivers. 
  • The terms “resource parent” and “resource family” refer to foster parents, informal and formal kinship caregivers, and treatment foster parents. When standards address practice requirements relevant only to certain sub-groups of resource parents (e.g., kinship caregivers, or treatment foster parents), this is indicated in the language of the standard.

Note: Please see CA-FKC Reference List and Human Trafficking Reference List - Canadian for a list of resources that informed the development of these standards.

Note: The Family Foster Care and Kinship Care standards were revised in May 2018 to reflect current best practice. For more information, please refer to the FKC Standards Update Summary

Family Foster Care and Kinship Care Narrative

Self-Study Evidence
    • Provide an individual overview of each program being accredited under this section. The overview should describe:
      1. the program's approach to delivering services;
      2. eligibility criteria;
      3. any unique or special services provided to specific populations; and
      4. major funding streams.
    • If elements of the service (e.g., assessments) are provided by contract with outside programs or through participation in a formal, coordinated service delivery system, provide a list that identifies the providers and the service components for which they are responsible. Do not include services provided by referral.
    • Provide any other information you would like the peer review team to know about these programs.
    • A demographic profile of children and families served by the programs being reviewed under this service section with percentages representing the following:
      1. racial and ethnic characteristics;
      2. gender/gender identity;
      3. age;
      4. presence of mental health and emotional/ behavioural conditions;
      5. medical conditions;
      6. major religious groups; and
      7. major language groups
    • As applicable, a list of groups or classes including, for each group or class:
      1. the type of activity/group;
      2. whether the activity/group is short-term or ongoing;
      3. how often the activity/group is offered;
      4. the average number of participants per session of the activity/group, in the last month; and
      5. the total number of participants in the activity/group, in the last month
    • A list of any programs that were opened, merged with other programs or services, or closed
    • A list or description of program outcomes and outputs being measured
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