WHO IS ACCREDITED?

Private Organization Accreditation

Heartland for Children is the not-for-profit agency responsible for the foster care system in Polk, Highlands, and Hardee Counties.
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VOLUNTEER TESTIMONIAL

Bonnie Bagley

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

I have found that being a COA Volunteer builds my professional skills and experience in ways that more traditional workshops do not. The opportunity to learn about best practices through the COA standards and then see how agencies implement them is truly a growth experience.
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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.

CA-FKC 18: Resource Family Assessment and Approval

The resource family assessment process ensures that prospective resource families are willing and able to meet the needs of children and their families.

Interpretation: Resource family assessments should be conducted in accordance with all applicable legal, regulatory, and contractual requirements.

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.

Research Note: Tribes and local Aboriginal organizations may be able to provide valuable support in assessing and approving resource families for Aboriginal children.  

NA The organization has no role in resource family assessment or approval. 

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: 
      1. Resource family assessment
      2. Reference and background, child abuse/neglect, and sex offender registry checks
      3. Resource family home and vehicle safety assessment
    • Resource family assessment tool and/or included criteria
No On-Site Evidence
    • Interview:
      1. Program director
      2. Relevant personnel
      3. Resource parents
    • Review resource parent records 
  •  

  • FP
    CA-FKC 18.01

    The resource family assessment is a standardized, collaborative process that is conducted in a culturally-responsive manner and:

    1. engages families as active partners in deciding whether they wish to become resource parents;
    2. includes one or more visits to prospective resource families’ homes; and
    3. involves individual consultation with all adults and children living in the home.

    Interpretation: The worker should meet with each household member separately to ensure each person feels comfortable to share freely.

    Research Note: Research on family foster care has demonstrated the efficacy of using a standardized questionnaire or inventory as a tool to assist agencies and prospective resource parents in assessing strengths and areas for development in the primary domains linked to fostering successfully.


  • FP
    CA-FKC 18.02

    The resource family assessment process includes:

    1. reference checks; and
    2. criminal background, child abuse and neglect, and sex offender registry checks for all adults living in the home according to applicable legal, regulatory, and contractual requirements.

    Interpretation: The organization should develop criteria for the review of criminal background checks that specifies if, and when, checks are conducted on a multi-province or national basis, and how the organization evaluates and responds to reports indicating criminal offenses. Prospective resource families should be informed at the beginning of the process about the organization’s policy regarding criminal convictions. Organizations may have more flexibility to make exceptions around certain non-violent criminal or civil background histories for kin who are otherwise determined to be appropriate caregivers. Each situation should be assessed on a case-by-case basis.


  • FP
    CA-FKC 18.03

    Workers collaborate with prospective resource families to explore factors that may impact their willingess and ability to provide effective care and offer experiences that enhance healthy development, including: 

    1. motivation and expectations for providing resource family care and interest in adoption, if applicable; 
    2. family relationships and family functioning, including reflections on how resource parents’ upbringing may inform their work with children in care, as well as how they may need to modify their approach to parenting in order to meet the needs of children in care;
    3. strategies for managing challenges, coping with conflict or adversity, and keeping commitments, including reflection on the extent to which the family has worked through adversity and how it has impacted them;
    4. willingness and ability to to provide responsive, nurturing care for children whose characteristics and needs match those of the children in care; 
    5. willingness to collaborate with birth parents and support children’s ties to culture, family, peers, and community, as appropriate; 
    6. willingness and ability to work as a member of a team to support and facilitate permanency for children in care; and
    7. the potential of having a new child join the family, including the potential impact on any other children in the family.

    Interpretation: With regard to element (d), workers should also explore with prospective resource families the possibility of caring for youth who are pregnant or parenting, as organizations often struggle to place pregnant or parenting youth together with their children in family settings due to the lack of available appropriate resource homes for this population. 


  • CA-FKC 18.04

    The resource family assessment considers concrete factors and resources that may impact the ability of resource parents to meet children’s needs, including:

    1. mental and physical health;
    2. social support networks; and
    3. education, employment, and financial status.

    Interpretation: Regarding element (a), the resource family assessment should also address past or current substance use conditions. Prospective resource parents who are undergoing appropriate treatment or in recovery should not automatically be excluded from consideration or approval.


  • FP
    CA-FKC 18.05

    Resource families’ homes are assessed for potential concerns related to safety, health, and space, including:

    1. inadequate or unsafe heat, light, water, refrigeration, cooking, and toilet facilities;
    2. malfunctioning smoke detectors;
    3. unsanitary conditions;
    4. lack of phone service;
    5. unsafe doors, steps, and windows, or missing window guards where necessary;
    6. exposed wiring;
    7. access to hazardous substances, materials, or equipment;
    8. unsecured weapons;
    9. rodent or insect infestation;
    10. walls and ceilings with holes or lead; and
    11. insufficient space.

    Note: Resource family home reassessment is addressed in CA-FKC 21.06.

    NA The organization provides kinship care services only.


  • FP
    CA-FKC 18.06

    The organization ensures that resource parents who will transport children in their own vehicles: 

    1. use age-appropriate passenger restraint systems; 
    2. provide adequate passenger supervision, as required by statute or regulation; 
    3. properly maintain vehicles and obtain required registration and inspection; 
    4. provide the organization with annual validation of their driving records; and 
    5. provide the organization with regular validation of their licenses and appropriate insurance coverage.

    Interpretation: Regarding element (e), this information should be provided as frequently as necessary, based on the amount of time licences and insurance are valid. For example, if licences are valid for two years, license validation can occur every two years. Regarding validation of appropriate insurance coverage, it is suggested that the organization maintain a copy of each resource parent’s auto policy declaration. The organization is responsible for determining what level of insurance coverage is considered appropriate. 

    NA The organization provides kinship care services only.


  • CA-FKC 18.07

    When the prospective resource family is known to the child, an assessment is conducted to evaluate:

    1. the relationship between the prospective resource family and the child;
    2. the child’s relationship to individuals already living in the home; and
    3. the prospective resource family’s commitment to the child.


  • CA-FKC 18.08

    During the assessment process kinship caregivers have the opportunity to:

    1. discuss their families’ stories and the experiences that brought them to caring for or planning to care for a kin child;
    2. discuss their concerns with becoming licensed resource parents; and
    3. learn how the program collaborates with kinship caregivers and supports relationships between kinship families, parents and extended families.

    NA The Family Foster Care program does not work with kinship caregivers.


  • CA-FKC 18.09

    Based on the information obtained during the assessment of a prospective resource family, the organization prepares a report:

    1. with a recommendation that indicates whether the prospective resource family has the ability, willingness, and resources to meet the needs of children in care; and
    2. within timeframes established by the organization, and prior to a child joining the resource family.

    Interpretation: The worker can consider additional information offered by a prospective resource family after reviewing the assessment.
     

    Interpretation: Children may be placed with kin on an emergent basis, including the same day as separation from their homes, in order to facilitate family connections and minimize disruptions. Criminal and CPS background checks and same day preliminary safety assessments are required prior to placement. Issues that may be revealed on these checks do not necessarily preclude placement of children in relatives’ homes but should be one component of an overall assessment of relatives’ capacity and appropriateness to care for children.


  • FP
    CA-FKC 18.10

    To ensure resource families can provide safe and consistent care, all adult caregivers in the home receive health assessments prior to placement, or within 45 days after the first placement, and again when licences are renewed.
     

    Interpretation: Special circumstances, including the health needs of the resource parent, warrant more frequent assessment. The organization should consult with the local public health authority to determine if a skin tuberculin test should be included in the assessment. A written statement from a physician or other qualified health professional regarding the person’s health is acceptable to meet the intent of the standard. If the assessment indicates a mental health concern, the individual must also obtain a formal evaluation from a mental health professional.

    Note: This standard is not applicable for unlicensed kinship caregivers.


  • FP
    CA-FKC 18.11

    All resource family homes are licensed, approved, or certified according to provincial, tribal, or local regulation.

    Interpretation: When children are placed with kin on an emergent basis, the local child welfare agency may allow eligible kin a period of time to work towards certification or licensing as a resource family home. However, criminal and child abuse background checks and preliminary safety assessments should still be conducted prior to placement. When the local child welfare agency is not assuming custody of a child, the kinship caregiver’s home may be approved as a temporary placement option while the family works towards stabilization.


  • FP
    CA-FKC 18.12

    Resource family assessments are updated: 

    1. within two weeks of a reported change in the home composition; and 
    2. at least once annually.

    Interpretation: Changes that warrant a follow-up assessment include but are not limited to: individuals who move in or out of the home; death or debilitating illness of a caregiver; structural defects in the home related to fire, flood, or natural disaster; or legal proceedings affecting the resource family such as eviction or divorce. The annual assessment update can occur in conjunction with the annual resource parent evaluation.

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