Private Organization Accreditation

Germaine Lawrence is a residential treatment center for girls ages 12-18 with complex behavioral, psychological and learning challenges.   Girls live at our programs while receiving special education, individual, family and group therapy; psychiatric and primary medical care; and a wide variety of therapeutic activities and interventions.


Children's Foundation of Mid America

James W. Thurman, President/CEO

Children’s Foundation of Mid America has been accredited through COA since 1983. The process of accreditation ensures that we meet or exceed the highest standards in the industry.
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Children in Family Foster Care and Kinship Care live in safe, stable, nurturing, and often temporary family settings that best provide the continuity of care to preserve relationships, promote well-being, and ensure permanency.

FKC 3: Comprehensive Assessment

Children, parents, and resource families are engaged in an individualized, strengths-based, and culturally responsive comprehensive assessment process that guides service and permanency planning.

Interpretation: When the organization receives an assessment from another provider this assessment should contain all components identified within the standards or the organization should use a supplemental assessment that satisfies the standards and provides additional opportunities to engage with and learn about children and families.

Research Note: Personnel that conduct initial and comprehensive assessment should be aware of the indicators of a potential victim of human trafficking. Several tools are available to help identify a potential victim and determine next steps toward an appropriate course of treatment. Examples of these tools include, but are not limited to, the Rapid Screening Tool for Child Trafficking and the Comprehensive Screening and Safety Tool for Child Trafficking.

Research Note: Assessment should be an ongoing, collaborative, and functional process that tracks and analyzes child and family strengths, needs, and functioning. Assessment training and tools should be designed to equip the worker with the skills to engage children and families in dialogue about their strengths, experiences, struggles, and fears. Considering how families currently and have historically functioned helps to identify strengths and underlying needs.   Strengths and needs assessment should continue throughout the work with families and focus on the underlying causes behind behaviors and situations that put children at risk. Comprehensive assessment that guides effective service planning will be best achieved when families are engaged as partners in identifying their strengths and needs. 

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 (HR 6.02) and training (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 (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 tool(s) and/or criteria included in assessment
    • A description of strategies for family engagement (FKC 3.01, FKC 3.03)
    • Data on the timeliness of assessments
    • Interview:
      1. Program director
      2. Relevant personnel
    • Review case records

  • FKC 3.01

    All immediate family members are engaged in the assessment process, and extended family members and other supports are identified during initial assessment and involved whenever possible.

    Interpretation: The organization should have specific culturally-responsive strategies for promoting engagement with children, families, and their support systems through all stages of the intervention.

    Interpretation: It is important that strategies for family engagement account for and accommodate for the dynamics of family systems and histories particularly when kin are caring for children.

    Interpretation: Family participation in the assessment process may not be possible when the organization is serving children with limited family involvement or unaccompanied minors, however children should be actively engaged in the process. 

    Interpretation: When the organization is working with an American Indian or Alaska Native family, tribal representatives or other tribal community members must be involved in the assessment process, as determined by the tribe and the family. 

    Research Note: Identifying and engaging fathers, both custodial and non-custodial is critical to children’s well-being and may lead to the discovery of additional extended family resources. Research demonstrates that involved fathers can have an undeniably positive impact on child development. Some strategies for engaging fathers include:
    1. speaking with fathers to assess their needs, the program’s father friendliness, and program accessibility;
    2. understanding factors that impact father involvement;
    3. training staff on the impact of father involvement, the diversity of father’s roles within family systems, and ways that fathers may relate to their children;
    4. developing partnerships with community providers that are already accessible to fathers; and
    5. coordinating dads-only programming and offering multiple ways for fathers to connect with the organization.
    Research Note: Meaningfully engaging with families is at the core of effective child welfare work. Engagement begins the moment that families come into contact with the organization. Successful family engagement involves:
    1. identifying strengths, protective capacities, and resilience in parents;
    2. building relationships with parents through empathy and compassion;
    3. promoting caregivers and young people involved in the system as the experts for matters concerning their family; and
    4. supporting the use of community-based resources to achieve positive outcomes.

  • FP
    FKC 3.02

    In addition to elements required in the Assessment Matrix, the following areas are discussed and documented during the assessment process: 
    1. the child and family’s telling of their own story;
    2. the presence and impact of trauma on the child, parents, and extended family (including kinship caregivers); 
    3. child, parent, and family strengths and protective factors;
    4. child, parent, and family needs across life domains;
    5. individual and family functioning over time and historical factors that have contributed to the concerns identified in initial risk and safety assessments and  screenings; 
    6. child and family characteristics pertinent to selecting an appropriate placement or to ensuring stable placement with kin; 
    7. identification of the extended family system and the dynamics of family relationships;
    8. identification of informal supports as well as community and cultural resources and connections for the child and the parents; and
    9. exploration of contributing factors such as poverty, domestic violence, substance abuse, mental health, and chronic health problems.


    • Added Interpretation - 10/31/17
      An Interpretation was added to support giving parents multiple opportunities to tell their story. 

    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.

    Interpretation: Different assessment tools or forms may be necessary to ensure that all life domains and particular concerns such as traumatic stress, mental illness, and domestic violence are addressed. 

    Clinical trauma assessment must be provided by appropriately trained clinicians. 

    Standardized and evidence-based assessment tools are recommended to inform decision-making in a structured manner and objectively gather data across cases. 

    Tools such as ecomaps and genograms may help identify extended family and community support systems and facilitate in-depth conversations between workers and families.

    Interpretation: Given that parents will often be reluctant to tell their own story due to stigma, cultural norms, and concerns that that the information they provide will be used against them, parents should have multiple opportunities to tell their story, over time, as trust is gradually established.

    Research Note: Research has documented that trauma experienced by many members of kinship families, especially birth parents, needs particular attention in order to increase birth parent participation in kinship care arrangements.

    Research Note: Protective factors are conditions that 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.

    Research Note: Research on promoting trauma-informed care across an organization supports the use of evidence-based trauma screening tools, the incorporation of conversations around trauma into assessment tools, and the use of clinical assessment tools to further assess symptoms and identify treatment and intervention opportunities.

  • FKC 3.03

    The assessment process is strengths-based and culturally-responsive to increase family engagement and identify available resources and individualized needs.

    Interpretation: A strengths-based and culturally-responsive approach should be emphasized throughout training curricula and reflected in assessments, service plans, and other documentation. 

    Taking a culturally-responsive approach involves recognizing and valuing the varying sociocultural histories of families, taking the time to learn about families’ lived experiences, acknowledging one’s own culturally-based beliefs and norms, and adapting casework practice and service delivery to be responsive to differences. 

    Culturally-responsive assessment includes but is not limited to attention to: 
    1. age, 
    2. developmental level, 
    3. ethnicity,
    4. gender identity and expression,
    5. geographic location, 
    6. immigration/refugee history and status, 
    7. language, 
    8. political status, 
    9. race,
    10. sexual orientation, 
    11. tribal affiliation, 
    12. religion, and
    13. cultural background and tradition.

    Research Note: Strengths-based practice includes the beliefs that: 
    1. children, youth and families are experts on themselves; 
    2. children, youth, and families must be fully engaged/involved in all decisions impacting their lives;
    3. the input of children, youth, and families is vitally important and will be treated with respect and value;
    4. lifelong connections should be promoted and maintained; and
    5. children, youth, and families should drive system planning and reforms.

  • FKC 3.04

    The assessment process is initiated through individual meetings: 
    1. with children within the first 72 hours of initial placement or any subsequent placements; 
    2. with parents within the first two weeks of placement; and 
    3. with resource parents within the first two weeks of placement.

    Interpretation: The individual interview should address physical, cognitive, emotional, social, cultural and spiritual/religious development from children’s own perspectives as outlined in the Assessment Matrix.  

    If staff have demonstrated competency in working with LGBTQI children/youth, exploration of gender identity and sexual orientation should be included in the individual conversation. As opposed to asking direct questions staff should ask open-ended questions that prompt discussion and help establish rapport. Information shared is used to responsively inform placement matching and service or treatment planning and should only be included in written plans when children and youth give explicit consent.  

    Interpretation: The initial meeting with children in treatment foster care is part of the admission process and occurs on the day of placement. The initial meeting with treatment foster parents occurs within 10 days of placement.

    Research Note: Because of the positive impact on child permanency outcomes, organizations are identifying creative strategies to bring parents and resource families together early on in the child welfare intervention. For example, some have instituted an introductory or “ice breaker” meeting within 72 hours of placement that gives parents the opportunity to share information about their children and to learn about the family that will be caring for their children.

  • FKC 3.05

    Assessments are completed by qualified personnel within timeframes established by the organization, and are updated on an ongoing basis:
    1. prior to case reviews;
    2. for decision-making processes; and
    3. when child or family circumstances change.

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