Private Organization Accreditation

Catholic Charities alleviates human suffering and improves the quality of life of 100,000 people annually, regardless of religious background. A staff of 600 provides support and services related to housing, food, mental health, children's services, addiction treatment, and domestic violence services.


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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Clients who receive Financial Education and Counseling services learn to solve financial problems and gain personal financial management skills.

FEC 4: Development of an Action Plan

The client participates in developing an action plan, based on assessment results, that identifies methods for achieving service goals.

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
  • 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
  • In a few instances client or staff signatures are missing and/or not dated; or
  • Active client participation occurs to a considerable extent.
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
  • In a number of instances client or staff signatures are missing and/or not dated (RPM 7.04); or
  • Quarterly reviews are not being done consistently; or
  • Level of care for some clients is inappropriate; or
  • Service planning is often done without full client participation; or
  • Appropriate family involvement is not documented; or
  • Documentation is routinely incomplete and/or missing; 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.,
  • 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 development of action plans
No On-Site Evidence
    • Interview:
      1. Program director
      2. Relevant personnel
      3. Clients
    • Review client files

  • FEC 4.01

    The client is the primary source of information about the need for service.

    Interpretation: Additional information from sources such as credit reports, creditor statements, utility bills, mortgage statements, or pay stubs should be sought to help confirm and enhance the accuracy of the assessment. In order to obtain a complete financial picture, the organization also may collect information related to the client’s employment, education, buying habits, significant expenditures, current and expected future income, secured and unsecured debt, health and other life issues that may affect their financial situation, and any significant changes in their earnings, assets, liabilities, and expenses, including the reason for those changes.

  • FEC 4.02

    An action plan is developed with the client based on the assessment findings that:

    1. focuses on timely resolution of the needs presented; and
    2. considers the urgency of the problem and the length of service required to achieve appropriate results.

    Interpretation: The client should receive a copy of the action plan, and the organization maintains another copy in the client’s file.

  • FEC 4.03

    The action plan contains:

    1. a preliminary evaluation of the request or need for services;
    2. a summary of the client’s financial situation including assets, liabilities, income, living expenses, debt, and housing;
    3. the client’s goals, actions necessary for achieving those goals, and their responsibilities;
    4. a statement describing the array of options available to the client, including bankruptcy, as applicable; and
    5. referrals made for other services, as applicable.

    Interpretation: Information listed above may be included in other related documents, such as the client’s budget.

  • FEC 4.04

    The organization develops a spending plan or budget with each client that prioritizes individual needs such as housing costs, utilities, food, and transportation.

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