WHO IS ACCREDITED?

Private Organization Accreditation

White's Residential & Family Services is Indiana's largest social services agency offering accredited and comprehensive residential, foster care, independent living, adoption, and home-based services.
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ORGANIZATION TESTIMONIAL

Domestic Violence Intervention Services, Inc.

Donna Mathews, Associate Director

Becoming accredited and maintaining our accreditation through COA has helped us increase our professionalism and thereby provide better services to domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and dating violence survivors.
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Purpose

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 5: Child Permanency

The organization participates in or facilitates permanency planning to promote physical, emotional, and legal permanence for children.

Interpretation: Permanency planning is a child-centered process that aims to ensure children of all ages, including older youth, have enduring relationships that are intended to last a lifetime, offer the social and legal status of family membership, and support their connections with extended family and cultures and communities of origin. See FKC 7 for more information about helping children build and sustain relationships with caring individuals of their choosing, and FKC 15 for more information about connecting youth transitioning to adulthood to lifelong supports.

When the organization is not responsible for facilitating permanency planning, it documents all participation in the process and any efforts to connect children to positive relationships with significant adults. 

In addition, organizations demonstrate their role in supporting timely permanency planning through regular case record documentation and official reports provided to the local child welfare agency or the court which comment on children’s and/or families’ progress towards permanency goal(s).

Note: As noted in FKC 4, permanency planning often occurs in conjunction with service planning.

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
    • Permanency planning procedures
    • Procedures for identifying and engaging kin
    • Reports or other aggregate data regarding the length of stay in foster care for the organization, from the previous year 
No On-Site Evidence
    • Interview:
      1. Program director
      2. Relevant personnel
      3. Parents
      4. Resource parents
      5. Children and youth
    • Review case records

  • FP
    FKC 5.01

    In compliance with applicable law and regulation, legal permanency planning occurs with children and families according to the following standard timeframes:
    1. within 60 days of placement a court-determined permanency plan is developed;
    2. at least every 6 months a court or administrative review of progress towards permanency occurs;
    3. within 12 months of placement, and every 12 months thereafter, a permanency hearing evaluates the permanency goal and  determines the need for an alternative goal; and
    4. after a child has been in placement for 15 of the most recent 22 months, a legally-exempted permanency decision is made or proceedings are initiated for the termination of parental rights.

    Update:

    • Revised Standard - 10/31/17
      The interpretation was revised to strengthen expectations around tribal involvement in permanency planning for American Indian and Alaska Native children. The research note was broadened to include circumstances the preclude termination of parental rights for American Indian and Alaska Native families. 

    Interpretation: Permanency planning should occur with the team of people that support and provide services for the family, and reviews should be scheduled at times when appropriate parties can attend. This planning often occurs in conjunction with service planning. Resource parents should be notified of and are entitled to participate in any review or hearing. 

    The length of time a child has been in care cannot be the only justification for terminating parental rights. In order to support parents that are actively making progress towards reunification but need more time, the organization can work with the public authority to determine a compelling reason for not filing for the termination of parental rights. Whenever possible, the permanency timeline for parents with substance use conditions should reflect the time needed to receive substance use treatment services and make progress towards recovery.

    Interpretation: 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 interests of the child into the permenancy plan. To facilitate full participation, the organization must ensure that the tribe or local Indian organization receives timely notification of court or administrative case reviews, and is informed of any changes made to the permanency plan. 

    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 FKC 5.01, 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.

    NA The organization only provides services to children in which there is no dependency/family court involvement, such as in many kinship care programs or foster care programs for unaccompanied minors.


  • FKC 5.02

    Permanency planning:

    1. occurs with families and the team of people that support them, including resource families, service providers, and extended family members or other supportive individuals identified by the family, as appropriate;
    2. is child-driven, with children actively involved in the process as appropriate to their age and developmental level.

    Interpretation: Child-driven permanency planning involves children at every stage of the process including conversations about what permanency means to them, the discovery of extended family and other significant adults and the formation of a permanency team that will support their desired outcomes and have an ongoing role in their lives. 

    Children’s ages should not limit the consideration of all permanency options. 


  • FKC 5.03

    Permanency plans document:

    1. permanency goals;
    2. why goals are in the best interest of children and their well-being;
    3. why other permanency options are not appropriate; and
    4. how service plans and identified interventions support permanency and child well-being.


  • FKC 5.04

    The organization facilitates family connections and engagement by collaborating with children, parents, and the local child welfare agency to identify, notify, and engage relatives and other close, supportive adults that can be resources or supports for placement and permanency.

    Interpretation: The organization is expected to be diligent and purposeful in identifying supportive resources. As appropriate to their role, organizations should have established procedures for identification of kin that involves a combination of engaging children and family members in identification, conducting a thorough review of the case record, and using technological resources for family-finding. Notification should be provided in family members’ preferred languages and in multiple forms, including written form in order to ensure accountability and maintain a record of efforts to notify. Intensive efforts should be made to identify and notify at least relatives up to the third degree, and ideally relatives up to the fifth degree, including non-custodial parents and their relatives, relatives of incarcerated parents, and family members outside of the country. While federal law does not require it, the organization should ideally also identify and involve other family-like supports, including non-related adults with a connection to the child. It is also important to note the necessity of finding life-long connections for youth even when they do not currently wish to be adopted. 

    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.


  • FKC 5.05

    Concurrent planning is documented and includes: 
    1. early, preliminary, and reasoned assessment of the potential for reunification, the best interests of the child, and the need for an alternative plan; 
    2. full disclosure to all involved parties of all permanency options, including expectations, implications, available supports, and legal timelines; 
    3. early placement with a permanent family resource or pre-adoptive resource family; and 
    4. counseling parents about relinquishment and alternative permanency options if needed. 

    Interpretation: Federal and state statutes or administrative rules may provide guidance about when concurrent planning is required, and how concurrent planning is to be conducted. When concurrent planning is not formalized, workers can be proactive with regard to the early identification of different permanency options for children, as is the intention of concurrent planning.

    Research Note: Rather than considering alternative options for permanency only after family reunification has been ruled out, concurrent planning seeks to eliminate delays in achieving permanence by pursuing all reasonable options at the earliest possible point following a child’s separation from his or her family.


  • FKC 5.06

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

    Update:

    • Revised Interpretation - 10/31/17
      Additional guidance was added to the interpretation regarding the active efforts requirements of the Indian Child Welfare Act. 

  • FKC 5.07

    Case records document efforts made to support parents towards reunification, including: 
    1. involvement in assessment, service planning, and service selection;
    2. access to needed services and supports, including both formal and informal community resources; 
    3. ongoing, constructive, and progressive contact with their children; and
    4. reduction of barriers to contact and involvement in their children’s care.

    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 support reunification. 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 tribes 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. 

    NA The organization, by virtue of law or contract, does not provide services to parents.

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