Private Organization Accreditation

Heartland for Children is the not-for-profit agency responsible for the foster care system in Polk, Highlands, and Hardee Counties.


Advantage Credit Counseling Service

Mary Loftus, VP, Agency Service

Our agency is preparing for reaccreditation under the Eighth Edition Standards. The COA site is well organized and very easy to use. Our team of employees working on the reaccreditation process has found the tools index to be very helpful, particularly some of the templates.
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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.

GLS 7: Community and Social Connections

Residents cultivate and sustain connections with their community and social support network to promote positive well-being.

Note: Programs serving residents with developmental disabilities should refer to CR 4: The Rights of Persons with Developmental Disabilities.

NA The organization serves residents with developmental disabilities.

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
    • Procedures for  facilitating social and community connections 
    • Policy that prohibits exploitation of individuals in employment-related training or gainful employment
No On-Site Evidence
    • Interview:
      1. Direct service personnel
      2. Residents
    • Review case records
    • Observe a variety of activities

  • GLS 7.01

    The organization facilitates residents’ ability to access all available services and successfully reintegrate into their community by:
    1. remaining knowledgeable about local, regional, and state resources, including networking and leadership opportunities;
    2. educating the community about the assets and needs of individuals receiving support to attain self-sufficiency; and
    3. identifying and developing opportunities for residents to develop positive ties to the community based on mutual interests and abilities.

  • GLS 7.02

    Social and community connections are encouraged by providing residents opportunities to participate in:
    1. social, recreational, educational, or vocational activities in their community;
    2. religious observances in the faith group or spirituality of choice; and
    3. family and neighborhood activities consistent with his or her ethnic and cultural heritage and tribal affiliation.

  • GLS 7.03

    Residents are helped to develop social support networks and build healthy, meaningful relationships with caring individuals of their choosing.

    Interpretation: “Caring individuals” may include mentors, community members, friends, classmates, peers, siblings, cousins, grandparents, former foster parents, and extended family members.

  • GLS 7.04

    Residents have opportunities to participate in group activities where they can meet, support, and share experiences with peers.

    Interpretation: Opportunities to participate in culturally and developmentally appropriate social, cultural, recreational, and religious or spiritual activities should be designed to expand the range of life experiences.

  • GLS 7.05

    The organization encourages social and community integration through the development of life skills necessary to:
    1. navigate the surrounding environment;
    2. obtain housing;
    3. pursue educational and occupational opportunities;
    4. manage finances;
    5. access community resources such as banks, employment agencies, government offices, and recreational and educational organizations;
    6. access public assistance;
    7. communicate effectively and resolve conflicts; 
    8. participate in recreational activities and/or hobbies; and
    9. prepare for discharge and family reintegration, independent living, or another less restrictive setting, if applicable.

    Note: This standard is applicable for all residents regardless of age. Organizations should tailor life skills training to meet the age and developmental level of the service population.

  • FP
    GLS 7.06

    The organization evaluates residents for their ability to participate in athletic activities and obtains as necessary:
    1. a written, signed permission slip from the resident’s legal guardian;
    2. a medical records release; 
    3. a signed document from a qualified medical professional stating that the resident is physically capable of participating; or
    4. an adult waiver and release of liability.

    NA The organization does not offer athletic activities to residents 

  • GLS 7.07

    Policy prohibits exploitation of residents in employment-related training or gainful employment.

    Interpretation: The organization should make reasonable efforts to match training and employment opportunities to the goals and interests of individual residents.

    NA The organization does not provide employment-related training or jobs to residents.

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