Private Organization Accreditation

Family Services of Southeast Texas strengthens families through accessible, affordable counseling services and education for issues affecting family life, mental health and employment.  We also provide comprehensive domestic violence shelter and support services.


Judy Kay, LCSW

Volunteer Roles: Peer Reviewer; Team Leader

In administration for 22 of 24 years at Child Saving Institute, a COA-accredited not-for-profit child welfare agency in Omaha, Nebraska. Retired approximately two years ago, I moved to Tucson, Arizona, where I advocate for children's rights as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer to three young children.
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Group Living Services allow individuals who need additional support to regain, maintain, and improve life skills and functioning in a safe, stable, community-based living arrangement.


Group Living Services provide community-based care, treatment, rehabilitation and/or support and supervision on a short- or long-term basis to individuals living in a group setting.

Interpretation: Individuals in a group living program can include:
  • children or youth from the child welfare, juvenile justice, mental health, or education systems;
  • children or adolescents who have been victims of human trafficking;  
  • individuals who are pregnant or parenting;
  • adults or children transitioning from a more intensive setting;
  • adults or children with developmental and/or physical disabilities;
  • adults with serious and persistent mental health conditions;
  • unaccompanied alien children; 
  • adults with substance use conditions; or
  • older adults who require a structured group living situation.

Research Note: The importance of providing trauma-informed care is reinforced by a growing body of research on the impact of adverse childhood experiences.
A national network of providers, researchers and families working collaboratively to raise the standard of care has defined a trauma-informed organization as one in which all programs:
  1. routinely screen for trauma exposure and related symptoms;
  2. use culturally appropriate evidence-based assessment and treatment for traumatic stress and associated mental health symptoms;
  3. make resources available to children, families, and providers on trauma exposure, its impact, and treatment;
  4. engage in efforts to strengthen the resilience and protective factors of children and families impacted by and vulnerable to trauma;
  5. address parent and caregiver trauma and its impact on the family system;
  6. emphasize continuity of care and collaboration across child-serving systems; and
  7. maintain an environment of care for staff that addresses, minimizes, and treats secondary traumatic stress, and that increases staff resilience. 
Research Note: Within the residential care field, there is a growing national movement for strategically creating closely coordinated partnerships between families, youth, communities, and residential and community-based service providers in order to ensure that services and supports are family-driven, youth-guided, strength-based, culturally and linguistically competent, individualized, and consistent with the research on sustained positive outcomes.
Research Note: The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) defines “severe forms of human trafficking” as:
The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for 
  • sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age; or
  • labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.
Coercion includes threats of physical or psychological harm to children and/or their families. Any child (under the age of 18) engaged in commercial sex (including prostitution, pornography, stripping) is a victim of trafficking.  
Research Note: Victims of human trafficking are in need of a comprehensive array of services, including group living services. Increasingly, first responders, including law enforcement and social service providers, are being trained to seek support services for human trafficking victims rather than prosecuting them for criminal activities they may have engaged in while being trafficked, such as prostitution, theft, undocumented status, and wage/hour violations.  Recognizing that these individuals are victims rather than criminals is a paradigm shift still under way in our society. This paradigm shift is critical as trafficking victims are eligible for services and protections under federal and some state laws that may not be provided to them otherwise.
Research Note: Unaccompanied alien children (UAC), also known as undocumented minors, who are apprehended by immigration officials do not have lawful immigration status in the U.S. and are not in the care of a parent or legal guardian at the time of apprehension. As a result, these children are placed in the custody and care of the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s (ORR) Division of Children Services/Unaccompanied Alien Children program. UAC receive placement and support services through contracted providers supported by ORR that are specifically designed to meet the unique needs of this vulnerable population of children.

Note: Group Living Services (GLS) are distinct from Residential Treatment Services (RTX), which provide an interdisciplinary, 24-hour-a-day structured program and therapeutic service array. The service needs of individuals in group living are not as intensive as those in residential treatment. As such, group living programs are less restrictive in nature. 
Group Living programs with substance use as a primary focus will also complete Services for Mental Health and/or Substance Use Disorders (MHSU).
Transitional housing programs are separately reviewed under Shelter Services (SH). 
Organizations that provide adventure-based programming will also complete the Experiential Education Supplement (EES). 
Recognizing that transition planning is an essential component of all group living programs, organizations that have a separate program or department that offers targeted services to youth transitioning to independent living will complete Youth Independent Living (YIL). 

Note: The resident defines “family” based on who fulfills the role of a family member or family-like connection, including current or former foster family members, adoptive family members, legal guardians, extended family members, significant others, siblings and/or peers. As such, the term “family” as it is referred to throughout this section of standards will vary depending on each resident’s definition. 
Note: Though the language in this section often refers to the individual or resident seeking care, these standards are also supportive of families and parents with children who are in care. 

Note: Though the term trafficking is used throughout this section, there are additional terms that may be utilized, including sex trafficking, commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC), domestic minor sex trafficking, and minor prostitution. The term victim is commonly used when referring to individuals who have been trafficked to emphasize that they have been coerced and exploited, though the term survivor may also be used.

Note: The Group Living Services (GLS) standards were revised in June 2014 to reflect current best practice. For more information, please see the GLS Standards Updates Summary - Private, Public, Canadian.

Note: Please see the GLS Reference List and Human Trafficking Reference List - Private for a list of resources that informed the development of these standards.

Group Living Services Narrative

Self-Study Evidence
    • Provide an overview of the different programs being accredited under this section. The overview should describe:
      1. the program's approach to delivering services;
      2. eligibility criteria;
      3. any unique or special services provided to specific populations; and
      4. major funding streams.
    • If elements of the service (e.g., assessments) are provided by contract with outside programs or through participation in a formal, coordinated service delivery system, provide a list that identifies the providers and the service components for which they are responsible. Do not include services provided by referral.
    • Provide any other information you would like the peer review team to know about these programs.
    • A demographic profile of persons and families served by the programs being reviewed under this service section with percentages representing the following:
      1. racial and ethnic characteristics;
      2. gender/gender identity;
      3. age;
      4. major religious groups; and
      5. major language groups
    • As applicable, a list of groups or classes including, for each group or class:
      1. the type of activity/group;
      2. whether the activity/group is short-term or ongoing;
      3. how often the activity/group is offered;
      4. the average number of participants per session of the activity/group, in the last month; and
      5. the total number of participants in the activity/group, in the last month
    • A list of any programs that were opened, merged with other programs or services, or closed
    • A list or description of program outcomes and outputs being measured
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