WHO IS ACCREDITED?

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.
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VOLUNTEER TESTIMONIAL

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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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 have enduring relationships that last a lifetime, offer the social and legal status of family membership, and support their connections with extended family, and to their cultures and communities of origin. 

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).

NA The organization provides informal Kinship Care Services only.

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
No On-Site Evidence
    • Interview:
      1. Program director
      2. Relevant personnel
      3. Parents
      4. 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, as appropriate. This planning often occurs in conjunction with service planning. Resource parents are notified and 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. 

    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 is child-driven and children are 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

    The organization collaborates 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 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.


  • FKC 5.04

    Concurrent planning 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 permanency options, expectations, and legal timelines; 
    3. early identification and involvement of potential family resources including non-custodial parents, relatives of incarcerated parents, extended family members, family members outside of the country, and family-like supports; 
    4. early placement with a permanent family resource or pre-adoptive resource family; and 
    5. 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.


  • FKC 5.05

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

    Interpretation: Customary adoption should be considered as a permanency option for Indian children.

    NA The Family Foster Care program does not work with kinship caregivers.


  • FKC 5.06

    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; 
    3. ongoing, constructive, and progressive contact with their children; 
    4. reduction of barriers to contact and involvement in their children’s care; and 
    5. the use of formal and informal community resources and supports to prepare families for reunification.

    Update:

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

    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 does not provide services to parents.

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