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

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

Child Protective Services protect children from abuse and neglect and increase child well-being and family stability.

CPS 12: Child and Youth Permanency

The organization participates in or facilitates permanency planning with families to promote stability and permanency.

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 permanency planning
No On-Site Evidence
    • Interview:
      1. Program director
      2. Supervisors
      3. Relevant personnel
    • Review case records

  • CPS 12.01

    Service providers, foster parents, the public authority, and the court work with the child, youth, and family to develop a permanency plan within 60 days of placement, which specifies:

    1. the permanency goal(s);
    2. a timeframe for achieving permanency; and
    3. activities that support permanency.

    Update:

    • Revised Interpretation - 10/31/17
      The interpretation was revised to require tribal participation and norms in permanency planning for American Indian and Alaska Native children

    Interpretation: Intensive efforts should be made to locate family members who can be involved in permanency planning and who may wish to (re)establish positive relationships with the child. The permanency planning process for American Indian and Alaska Native children and families must always involve tribal representatives and service providers to ensure compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act’s placement preferences and support culturally responsive planning that recognizes and incorporates tribal definitions of permanency and tribal perspectives of the best interest of the child into the permanency plan.

    Interpretation: The age of a youth should not limit the consideration of all permanency options. 

    Interpretation: The timeframe for achieving permanency is consistent with state and federal regulations, and in most cases the permanency hearing should take place within 12 months. Whenever possible, the permanency timeline for parents with substance use conditions reflects the time needed to receive substance use treatment services and make progress towards recovery.

    Research Note: Tribal definitions of permanency can vary by tribe but generally focus on the concept of belonging through the identification and enhancement of the child’s support networks including their extended family, clan, and tribe. Thus, permanency is the result of continuity and a sustained sense of belonging.


  • CPS 12.02

    Concurrent planning is undertaken when appropriate and includes:

    1. early assessment of the potential for reunification;
    2. full disclosure of options, expectations, and timelines;
    3. early identification of potential family resources;
    4. early placement with a permanent family resource; and
    5. counseling parents about relinquishment and permanency options when reunification seems unlikely.

    Interpretation: Federal and state statutes or administrative rules may provide guidance about when concurrent planning is appropriate and how concurrent planning is to be conducted.

    Interpretation: As appropriate, the child’s extended family and other community members should be considered when identifying potential family resources.


  • CPS 12.03

    The child, parents, caregivers, foster parents, and relevant professionals participate in a court or administrative case review at least every six months to assess:

    1. the safety and appropriateness of continued placement;
    2. constructive parent, child, and sibling visitation;
    3. efforts to reunify the family and progress toward permanency;
    4. possible placement resources and best options; and
    5. appropriateness of services.

    Interpretation: Federal and state statutes or administrative rules may provide guidance about when and how administrative reviews are to be conducted. The review is scheduled at times when appropriate parties can attend.

    Interpretation: When the case involves an American Indian or Alaska Native child, a representative from the tribe or a local Indian organization must receive timely notification of court or administrative case review to ensure their involvement, particularly when any changes are made to the permanency plan.


  • CPS 12.04

    Youth are actively involved in permanency planning, and receive information about progress toward permanency as appropriate to their age, cultural needs, and developmental level.


  • CPS 12.05

    The case record documents opportunities provided to parents in support of reunification, including:

    1. involvement in service planning and access to needed services;
    2. constructive visitation and on-going contact with the child;
    3. reduction of barriers to contact, visitation, and involvement in the child’s care; and
    4. use of formal and informal resources to prepare the family for reunification.

    Update:

    • Added Interpretation - 10/31/17
      An interpretation was added regarding the active efforts requirements of the Indian Child Welfare Act. 

    Interpretation: Resources can include support from extended family members or the tribal community when one has been identified.

    Interpretation: When the organization is working with American Indian and Alaska Native children and families, the Indian Child Welfare act requires active efforts be provided to prevent family breakup. Active efforts require affirmative, thorough, timely, and culturally responsive engagement with families to satisfy the case plan by accessing resources and services and partnering with the tribe. Early consultation with the child’s tribe is critical to ensuring that a full range of resources have been made available to the family and that active effort requirements are fulfilled. Organizations may work with tribal leadership, elders, religious figures, or professionals with expertise concerning the given tribe to determine culturally responsive active efforts and identify culturally appropriate services for the family. 

    Note: The documentation must be in a format legally admissible as evidence to facilitate court proceedings.


  • CPS 12.06

    The organization recommends or files a petition to terminate parental rights for children who have been in care for 15 of the most recent 22 months, unless case-specific information legally exempts a child.

    Update:

    • Revised Research Note - 10/31/17
      Additional information was added to the research note to address circumstances that preclude termination of parental rights for American Indian or Alaska Native families. 

    Interpretation: The reason submitted for termination of parental rights cannot be the length of time a child has been in care. When the decision is made not to return the child home, the justification and alternative permanency goal are entered into the case record.

    Interpretation: When the case involves an American Indian or Alaska Native child, the organization should collaborate with the tribe to ensure compliance with Indian Child Welfare Act requirements governing the termination of parental rights.

    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.

    Other circumstances that preclude termination of parental rights when the case involves an American Indian or Alaska Native child include: placement with extended family per ICWA placement preferences; transfer of jurisdiction to the tribal court; insufficient provision of “active efforts” to support reunification; and inability to satisfy the legal requirements for termination of parental rights under ICWA. 

    Research Note: The Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) outlines three legal exemptions to the termination of parental rights requirement outlined in CPS 12.06, including if: (1) the child is being cared for by a relative; (2) the case record contains documentation of a compelling reason why the termination of parental rights would not be in the best interest of the child, including failure to meet federal statutory requirements such as active or reasonable efforts; and (3) the organization hasn’t provided the family with services identified by the state to be necessary for the safe return of the child. ASFA does not override, amend, or repeal the requirements of the Indian Child Welfare Act.


  • CPS 12.07

    The organization is diligent in identifying and notifying all adult relatives of a child’s separation from her or his family within 30 days of placement.

    Interpretation: Organizations should have established procedures for identification of kin that involves a combination of engaging children and family members in identification and the use of technological resources for family-finding. Notification should be provided in multiple forms, including written form in order to ensure accountability and maintain a record of efforts to notify.

    Research Note: Family-finding efforts support the increased identification and involvement of incarcerated parents and their families in the permanency plan. Unless the court has determined that reasonable efforts to support reunification are suspended, public agencies are mandated to work with incarcerated parents as with other parents. This involvement is important for children’s well-being and may increase motivation for incarcerated parents to work for reunification or participate in the development of an alternative plan.


  • CPS 12.08

    To support permanency goals kinship caregivers are informed about, and assisted in, pursuing permanency options such as adoption or guardianship, as appropriate.

    Interpretation:  Tribal customary adoption should be considered as a permanency option for American Indian and Alaska Native children.

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