Private Organization Accreditation

Consumer Credit Counseling Service of the Savannah Area's mission is to provide the best non-profit community service, dedicated to delivering professional and confidential counseling, debt management, housing counseling and consumer education to all segments of the community regardless of ability to pay.


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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Individuals and families who receive Disaster Recovery Case Management Services access and use resources and support that build on their strengths and meet their service needs.

DRCM 8: Personnel

Disaster Recovery Case Management employees and volunteers are qualified by life experience, education, and training to access and coordinate services for the populations served.

Interpretation: Volunteers are a critical, dynamic, and spontaneous resource in disaster recovery efforts. Organizations that deploy volunteer personnel seek to maximize volunteer contributions and experience by selecting, training, and supporting volunteers consistent with their personnel policies and procedures.

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., 
  • With some exceptions, staff (direct service providers, supervisors, and program managers) possess the required qualifications, including: education, experience, training, skills, temperament, etc., but the integrity of the service is not compromised.
    • Supervisors provide additional support and oversight, as needed, to staff without the listed qualifications.
    • Most staff who do not meet educational requirements are seeking to obtain them.
  • With some exceptions staff have received required training, including applicable specialized training.
    • Training curricula are not fully developed or lack depth.
    • A few personnel have not yet received required training.
    • Training documentation is consistently maintained and kept up-to-date with some exceptions.
  • A substantial number of supervisors meet the requirements of the standard, and the organization provides training and/or consultation to improve competencies.
    • Supervisors provide structure and support in relation to service outcomes, organizational culture and staff retention.
  • With a few exceptions caseload sizes are consistently maintained as required by the standards.
  • Workloads are such that staff can effectively accomplish their assigned tasks and provide quality services, and are adjusted as necessary in accord with established workload procedures.
    • Procedures need strengthening.
    • With few exceptions procedures are understood by staff and are being used.
  • With a few exceptions specialized staff are retained as required and possess the required qualifications.
  • Specialized services are obtained as required by the standards.
Practice requires significant improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice standards.  Service quality or program functioning may be compromised; e.g.,
  • One of the Fundamental Practice Standards received a rating of 3 or 4.
  • A significant number of staff, e.g., direct service providers, supervisors, and program managers, do not possess the required qualifications, including: education, experience, training, skills, temperament, etc.; and as a result the integrity of the service may be compromised.
    • Job descriptions typically do not reflect the requirements of the standards, and/or hiring practices do not document efforts to hire staff with required qualifications when vacancies occur.
    • Supervisors do not typically provide additional support and oversight to staff without the listed qualifications.
  • A significant number of staff have not received required training, including applicable specialized training.
    • Training documentation is poorly maintained.
  • A significant number of supervisors do not meet the requirements of the standard, and the organization makes little effort to provide training and/or consultation to improve competencies.
  • There are numerous instances where caseload sizes exceed the standards' requirements.
  • Workloads are excessive and the integrity of the service may be compromised. 
    • Procedures need significant strengthening; or
    • Procedures are not well-understood or used appropriately; or
  • Specialized staff are typically not retained as required and/or many do not possess the required qualifications; or
  • Specialized services are infrequently obtained as required by the standards.
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.,

?For example:
  • 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
    • Program staffing chart that includes lines of supervision
    • List of program personnel that includes:
      1. name;
      2. title;
      3. degree held and/or other credentials;
      4. FTE or volunteer;
      5. length of service at the organization;
      6. time in current position
    • Table of contents of training curricula
    • Caseload size, per worker, for the past six months, and procedures or criteria used to assign and evaluate caseloads
    • Training curricula
    • Documentation of training
    • Job descriptions
    • Interview:
      1. Supervisors
      2. Personnel
    • Review personnel files

  • DRCM 8.01

    Case managers are qualified by completion of a disaster recovery case management specific curriculum and have the experience, personal qualities, case management skills, and current competencies to work effectively with the populations served.

    Interpretation: Individuals with a broad range of experience, education, and training are deployed as disaster recovery case managers, as determined by the organization’s mission, programs, and requirements. Organizations can determine satisfactory preparation and level of qualification through a combination of training and education, for example, case management certification or a bachelor’s degree with sufficient, appropriate experience.

    Interpretation: Direct service providers should be selected for their ability to handle stressful situations and for qualities such as empathy, maturity, judgment, and alertness to warning signs of potential crisis. 

  • DRCM 8.02

    Case managers are respectful of the individuals, families, and communities served, and their autonomy, and are:

    1. supportive;
    2. able to recognize strengths;
    3. sensitive to the needs of individuals and families in crisis;
    4. aware of the impact of the disaster on the community; and
    5. culturally and linguistically competent relative to the population served.

    Interpretation: Several proprietary disaster case management training curricula have been developed and are being utilized in the field. These curricula provide in depth material on qualities and skills of effective case managers, and the traits organizations value in disaster recovery case managers. Currently, these materials typically are available and provided through a skilled trainer, only.

    Interpretation: A culturally-sensitive response to the disaster impacted area is critical for effective, efficient, and equitable use of recovery resources. DRCM organizations identify and directly address or seek collaborations to address the needs of those populations. Examples of culturally-sensitive responses include engagement of the community’s formal or informal leaders, translation of forms into the population’s first language, learning about and working with the community’s structure, providing interpretation services, and seeking volunteers from the community to assist in case management and supplemental activities.

    Note: Organizations should refer to the Ethical Practice (ETH) standards for more information regarding professional conduct and personnel knowing and following their codes of ethics.

  • DRCM 8.03

    Case managers receive training on the following topics:

    1. establishing rapport and a professional relationship with clients;
    2. cultural competency;
    3. methods of engaging individuals and families;
    4. special issues related to working with the identified service population;
    5. coordinating services as part of a team;
    6. linking clients and making referrals to community services;
    7. knowledge of community programs and how to access services;
    8. case advocacy and case presentation;
    9. confidentiality, conflict of interest, and professional ethics;
    10. knowledge of public assistance programs, eligibility requirements, and benefits; and
    11. the organization’s emergency plan, and disaster relief resources, planning, and procedures.

  • DRCM 8.04

    Case managers receive training on the following disaster recovery related topics:

    1. role of case management in a disaster;
    2. disaster terminology;
    3. stages of disaster response and recovery;
    4. the disaster declaration process;
    5. local, state and federal responses to disaster to include the “sequence of delivery” for governmental assistance;
    6. long-term recovery groups;
    7. methods to promote empowering client recovery efforts;
    8. conducting disaster-related screening and needs assessments;
    9. developing disaster recovery plans;
    10. record keeping and data management for emergency situations; and
    11. self care.

    Interpretation: Regarding element (j), shared data base technologies have been, and are being, developed among collaborating recovery organizations as a partial solution for improved monitoring of client goal attainment and increasingly efficient and effective use of disaster-related resources.

  • DRCM 8.05

    Supervisors of case managers are qualified by completion of a disaster recovery case management curriculum for supervisors, and human services experience, including at least four years of supervised experience providing case management or disaster recovery case management services.

    Interpretation: Individuals with a broad range of experience, education, and training are deployed as supervisors of disaster recovery case managers as determined by the organization’s mission, programs and requirements; however, supervisors should be able to support, monitor, and advocate for case managers and clients, and meet program administration and training responsibilities. Satisfactory preparation and level of qualification can be determined through a combination of training and education, for example, case management certification, a bachelor’s degree, or an advanced degree, with appropriate experience.

  • DRCM 8.06

    Supervisors prevent, identify, and address stress, anxiety, secondary traumatic stress, and vicarious trauma among direct service staff by: 

    1. processing and debriefing with staff following a crisis or traumatic event;
    2. creating an atmosphere of problem-solving and learning;
    3. providing constructive ways to approach difficult situations with service recipients; and
    4. facilitating regular feedback, growth opportunities, and a structure for ongoing communication and collaboration. 

    Interpretation: Supervision is an important determinant of service recipient outcomes, organizational culture, and staff retention.

    Interpretation: In order to promote workforce well-being, organizations should implement policies that address and help prevent stress-related problems. Strategies to reduce the adverse effects of secondary traumatic stress and vicarious trauma include: helping staff identify and manage the difficulties associated with their respective positions; promoting self-care and well-being through policies and communications with personnel; offering positive coping skills and stress management training; and providing adequate supervision and staff coverage. 

    Interpretation: Before a crisis or traumatic event occurs, the organization’s leadership should establish a coordinated plan detailing its organization-wide response strategy (see also ASE 7), in accordance with all applicable confidentiality laws and regulations. For example, response plans in the event of a suicide can include: procedures for managing information about the death, coordination of internal or external resources, supports for those affected by the death, commemoration of the deceased, and follow-up with anyone at elevated risk for suicide. 

    Interpretation: The suicide attempt or death by a service recipient can be a traumatic experience for staff and appropriate supports and avenues for grief are often not provided. Staff may feel responsible for the individual’s death, professionally inadequate, blamed by colleagues, and ashamed. To help staff process the loss of a service recipient to suicide, voluntary non-judgmental support services should be made available to help the affected staff and other personnel grieve and prepare for future contact with individuals at risk for suicide. 

    Research Note: Secondary traumatic stress (STS) – distress that results from being exposed to the traumatic stories of others – and vicarious trauma (VT) – internal changes in the perception of self that are due to chronic exposure to traumatic material – have a significant impact on direct care workers and supervisors. STS has been linked to increased absenteeism among employees, high staff turnover, and decreased compliance with organizational requirements. The impact of VT can impede organizational function and negatively influence an individual’s sense of trust, safety, control, and esteem. 

  • DRCM 8.07

    Case management supervisors monitor, communicate, and take action regarding:

    1. the support and training needs and effectiveness of case management staff;
    2. the prioritization of client needs, and status and support of recovery plan goals;
    3. the development and processes of disaster specific resources; and
    4. the need for networking and collaboration with agencies and community providers.

    Interpretation: The overall impact of a disaster on a community can have an effect on case managers regardless of direct involvement. Supervisors should be aware of any negative effects and intervene and provide support, as appropriate.

  • DRCM 8.08

    A supervisor or case manager is available to provide case consultation whenever services are provided.

  • DRCM 8.09

    Caseload size is sufficiently small to permit case managers to respond to differing service needs of individuals and families, including frequency of contact.

  • DRCM 8.10

    Employee workloads support the achievement of client outcomes, are regularly reviewed, and are based on an assessment of the following:

    1. the qualifications, competencies, and experience of the worker, including the level of supervision needed;
    2. the work and time required to accomplish assigned tasks and job responsibilities; and
    3. service volume, accounting for assessed level of needs of new and current clients and referrals.
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