Private Organization Accreditation

Lutheran Social Services of New England is a high-performing nonprofit organization. LSS is a powerful difference maker and go-to resource, driving ourselves to constantly anticipate futures that are different from the past. For 140 years, LSS has been caring for people in need in New England.


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.
read more>>


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.

GLS 16: Transition from the Service System

Residents transitioning to the community participate in planning for transition and are prepared with positive experiences and skills to make a successful move.

Interpretation: The decision to develop a plan for returning to the community is based on the service recipient’s preparedness and wishes unless the transition is mandated. Family should also be involved in the transition process to the greatest extent possible. 

Interpretation: When the organization serves young children, the parent and/or legal guardian is informed of and involved in the transition process from admission.

Research Note: Transitional periods in life are often particularly stressful for survivors of trauma who need to guide their own transition planning at a pace that feels comfortable for them and may require additional supports in order to have a safe experience of transition.

NA The service is a long-term permanent housing setting.

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
  • 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
  • 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.
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
    • Transition planning procedures
    • A description of the services provided to support residents transitioning from the service system
No On-Site Evidence
    • Interview:
      1. Program director
      2. Relevant personnel
      3. Residents
    • Review case records

  • GLS 16.01

    The organization provides residents transitioning to the community with advance notice of the cessation of any health, financial, or other benefits that may occur at transition or case closing.

  • GLS 16.02

    The organization works with the resident and their family to develop a plan for living in the community.

    Interpretation: For adolescents, the transition from the service system often coincides with their transition to adulthood. Youth should be supported during their transition to adulthood through individualized planning and preparation that promotes emotional well-being, supportive relationships, and skill development. Program personnel should also provide youth transitioning into adult systems of care with the knowledge they need to access specialized services and navigate adult-serving systems.

    Research Note: As adolescents enter adulthood, services from child-serving systems end, often abruptly, even though the need continues.  In order to maintain continuity of care, organizations should work with residents to develop a transition plan that builds on their strengths and addresses their ongoing service needs.

  • GLS 16.03

    The organization prepares residents, as appropriate to their individualized transition plan, for a successful transition by providing them with information and support regarding, as applicable:
    1. the transfer or termination of custody;
    2. rights and services to which the person may have access as a result of a disability;
    3. the availability of affordable community based healthcare and counseling;
    4. public assistance and court systems;
    5. child care services; and
    6. support through community volunteers, peers, or persons who have made a successful transition.

    Research Note: Successfully meeting the needs of victims of human trafficking depends on it being part of a continuum that includes prevention, education, outreach, and collaboration that reaches a wide array of community providers, such as schools, law enforcement, juvenile courts, child protective services, shelters, drop-in centers, parents, and the community at large.

  • GLS 16.04

    The organization works with the resident and their family and/or legal guardian to assess the independent living skills of residents 14 years and older, at regular intervals. 

    Interpretation: Organizations should use a standardized assessment instrument as soon as possible after a child’s 14th birthday to establish a benchmark for progress on the development of skills in the areas of:
    1. educational and vocational development, 
    2. interpersonal skills, 
    3. financial management, 
    4. household management, and 
    5. self-care.
    Systematic assessment normally reoccurs at six or twelve month intervals.

    NA Residents are not transitioning to an independent living situation.

  • GLS 16.05

    During the transition process, and prior to case closing, the organization explores a range of living situations with residents and engages them in an evaluation of the risks and benefits of various housing options.

    Interpretation: Options may include the full range of living situations from supported living to fully independent living environments.

    NA Residents are not transitioning to an independent living situation.  

  • GLS 16.06

    The organization ensures that an adequate living arrangement is in place for every resident transitioning to independence and, when possible, provides supervised household management practice.

    NA Residents are not transitioning to an independent living situation.

  • GLS 16.07

    For every person transitioning to independence, the organization ensures that basic resources are in place, including:
    1. a safe, stable living arrangement with basic necessities;
    2. a source of income;
    3. affordable health care;
    4. access to education and academic support; and
    5. employment and workforce support.

    Research Note: The Affordable Care Act (ACA) will require states to provide Medicaid coverage for individuals under age 26 who were in foster care at age 18 and receiving Medicaid. Youth will be eligible for full Medicaid benefits which include Early, Periodic, Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT) services. 

    It is recommended that organizations train direct service personnel on their states Medicaid eligibility requirements and healthcare options for youth transitioning out of care and conduct follow-up training as changes are implemented based on the ACA. Organizations should also work directly with state Medicaid agencies to connect eligible individuals to benefits.

    NA Residents do not transition to an independent living situation.

  • GLS 16.08

    The organization ensures that residents transition from care with social supports in place, including, as appropriate: 
    1. access to at least one committed, caring adult; 
    2. access to cultural and community supports; and 
    3. access to positive peer support, including peer advocates and peer programs.

    Research Note: Healthy interpersonal relationships are positively correlated with successful outcomes for youth transitioning from care. As adolescents move into adulthood, continued support and guidance from concerned, nurturing adults has a profound impact on youth achieving an optimal level of independence. Even if youth aren’t living with their families after they leave care, having positive relationships with family members increases the likelihood of a successful transition.  

    Research Note: Peer support is built on shared personal experience and empathy, and focuses on an individual’s strengths not weaknesses. Information provided by peers is often seen as more authentic, as peers have similar lived experience and can better relate to those they support. Peer support has demonstrated positive outcomes in the areas of substance abuse, parenting, mental health, chronic illness, anxiety, and depression. Research shows that peer-run self-help groups can improve an individual’s social support networks and enhance self-esteem and social functioning.

  • GLS 16.09

    The organization assists residents in obtaining or compiling documents necessary to function independently, including, as applicable:
    1. an identification card;
    2. a social security or social insurance number;
    3. a resume, when work experience can be described;
    4. a driver’s license, when the ability to drive is a goal;
    5. medical records and documentation, including a Medicaid card or other health eligibility documentation;
    6. an original copy of a birth certificate;
    7. religious documents and information;
    8. documentation of immigration or refugee history and status;
    9. death certificates when parents are deceased;
    10. a life book or a compilation of personal history and photographs, as appropriate;
    11. a list of known relatives, with relationships, addresses, telephone numbers, and permissions for contacting involved parties;
    12. previous placement information and health facilities used, if age-appropriate; and
    13. educational records, such as high school diploma or general equivalency diploma, and a list of schools attended, when age-appropriate.

  • GLS 16.10

    As a continuing resource for information, crisis management, referral, and support, the organization provides each resident with:
    1. a transition plan summary, including the resident’s options;
    2. a list of emergency contacts; and
    3. the organization’s contact information.

Copyright © 2019 Council on Accreditation. All Rights Reserved.  Privacy Policy and Terms of Use