Private Organization Accreditation

Children's Home Society of Florida delivers a unique spectrum of social services designed to protect children at risk of abuse, neglect or abandonment; to strengthen and stabilize families; to help young people break the cycle of abuse and neglect; and to find safe, loving homes for children.


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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Family Preservation and Stabilisation Services improve family functioning, increase child and family well-being, ensure child safety, reduce the need for CPS intervention and the separation of children from their families, and ease the transition to reunification following a separation.

CA-FPS 4: Assessment

Children and families participate in a comprehensive, individualized, strengths-based, family-focused, culturally- responsive, and trauma-informed assessment.

Interpretation: The Assessment Matrix - Private, Public, Canadian, Network determines which level of assessment is required for COA’s Service Sections. The assessment elements of the Matrix can be tailored according to the needs of specific individuals or service design.

Research Note: For an assessment to be trauma-informed, it assumes that every individual has likely been exposed to experiences that are traumatic, including abuse (physical, psychological, or sexual), neglect, out-of-home placements, exposure to community or familial violence, or persistent stress. Adopting this assumption in all levels of treatment ensures the organization actively avoids instances that can re-traumatize service recipients.

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
  • Culturally responsive assessments are the norm and any issues with individual staff members are being addressed through performance evaluations (CA-HR 6.02) and training (CA-TS 2.05); or
  • Active client participation occurs to a considerable extent; or
  • Diagnostic tests are consistently and appropriately used, but interviews with staff indicate a need for more training (CA-TS 2.08).
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
  • Assessment and reassessment timeframes are often missed; or
  • Assessment are sometimes not sufficiently individualized;
  • Culturally responsive assessments are not the norm and this is not being addressed in supervision or training; or
  • Staff are not competent to administer diagnostic tests, or tests are not being used when clinically indicated; or
  • Client participation is inconsistent; or
  • Assessments are done by referral source and no documentation and/or summary of required information present in case record; 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.,
  • There are 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
    • Assessment procedures
    • Assessment tools and/or criteria included in assessment
    • Qualifications of personnel who conduct assessments
    • Interview:
      1. Program director
      2. Relevant personnel
      3. Families served
    • Review case records

  • CA-FPS 4.01

    Personnel who conduct assessments are qualified by relevant training, skill, and experience and can recognize children and families with special needs.

  • CA-FPS 4.02

    When personnel conduct assessments, family members are considered the primary source of information.

    Interpretation: Collateral sources of information can be sought to help confirm and/or enhance information for assessment purposes. When services are mandated by a referring public authority/agency with statutory responsibility, that authority/agency may supply additional information about the need for service.

  • CA-FPS 4.03

    The information gathered for assessments is comprehensive, directed at concerns identified in the initial screening, and limited to material pertinent for meeting service requests, objectives, and desired outcomes.

    Interpretation: Strengths, challenges, functional status, and capacity to recognize and meet a child’s strengths and needs are to be included in the assessment.

    Interpretation: Assessments made by the public authority/agency or another service provider prior to the referral are to be included in the initial assessment. 

  • CA-FPS 4.04

    Assessments are conducted in a strengths-based and culturally responsive manner and are focused on:

    1. increasing family engagement in the process; 
    2. gaining a better understanding of children’s and families’ experiences;
    3. learning about times families managed challenging situations successfully; and 
    4. identifying competencies and resources that each family member can utilize and leverage to promote change and reduce the risks that precipitated the need for service.

    Interpretation: All children and families have areas of strength and resilience. Staff should engage all family members involved in the case in an open and safe dialogue about their strengths, struggles, fears, and experiences during the assessment process, especially to inform treatment efforts. A comprehensive assessment that guides effective service planning is best achieved when families are engaged as partners in identifying their strengths and needs.

    Research Note: It may be especially important to identify strengths related to the protective factors that have been shown to support effective parenting and promote child and family well-being, even under stress. Research has shown that protective factors including nurturing and attachment, knowledge of parenting and child and youth development, parental resilience, social connections, and concrete supports for parents are linked to lower incidence of child abuse and neglect and family dysfunction.

  • CA-FPS 4.05

    Assessments are designed to explore, as appropriate, each family member’s strengths, needs, and functioning related to the following areas: 

    1. physical health, including any chronic health problems;
    2. emotional stability, mental health, and adjustment and coping skills;
    3. behavior;
    4. educational readiness, attainment and cognitive development;
    5. family relationships, family dynamics, and any history or presence of domestic violence; 
    6. informal and social supports, including relationships with adults and peers in the extended family and community, as well as connections to community and cultural resources;
    7. substance use;
    8. trauma exposure and related symptoms;
    9. parenting skills and disciplinary practices;
    10. gender identity and sexual orientation; and
    11. any history of human trafficking.

    Research Note: Research on suicide prevention shows that behavioural health conditions, such as mental illness and/or substance use disorders, and traumatic or violent life events can heighten suicide risk. Identifying risks, warning signs, and protective factors during the assessment process can facilitate prompt access to necessary services and interventions. 

  • CA-FPS 4.06

    Assessments are completed within timeframes established by the organization.

    Interpretation: If the timelines are not specified by legislation, regulations, and/or contracts, assessments are to be completed no longer than 90 days after intake.

  • CA-FPS 4.07

    Providers continually evaluate progress, needs, risks, impediments to service, and the continued need for service, and document the results of their ongoing evaluations once a month.

    Interpretation: Consistently applied criteria should be used to evaluate risks or needs that may inhibit resolution of pressing issues. The organization can develop its own criteria or use an established risk assessment tool.

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