Private Organization Accreditation

Southeastern Regional Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services is a Local Management Entity, covering the geographic areas of Bladen, Columbus, Robeson, and Scotland counties. SER ensures continuity of care to consumers through access to a quality of care system available 24/7/365 days a year through management of our network provider services.


Barry Gourley

Volunteer Roles: Endorser; Peer Reviewer

It is an honor to be a COA volunteer. I’ve had a great opportunity to work with fabulous COA volunteers, I’ve grown professionally in the COA accreditation process and I’ve met some wonderful people across this nation who are working hard to help and support children and families.
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Guardianship Services for Minors support the establishment of a court-appointed, long-term, living arrangement with a committed caregiver that ensures safety and increases stability and child well-being.


Guardianship Services for Minors provide assessment, information, and service planning to birth parents, children, and prospective guardians to determine if legal guardianship is a viable permanency option. Guardianship services also provide the child and their guardian with referrals, support, and other post-placement services to maintain the court-appointed placement.


  • Revised Note - 10/31/17
    The Note was revised to reflect changes to the Indian Child Welfare Act. 

Research Note: Guardianship refers to the transfer of legal responsibility for a minor from the state or tribe to a private caregiver or guardian. Guardianship is often appointed by the tribal or state juvenile or probate court and can include responsibility for the child, their estate, or both. Generally, the guardian has custody of the child, but parental rights have not been terminated. There are a variety of cultural, social, and ethical circumstances where guardianship may be the most appropriate option if family reunification has been ruled out including: when terminating parental rights goes against cultural norms; when adolescents do not wish to be adopted; or when a parent’s physical, emotional, or cognitive disabilities prevent him or her from being a permanent caregiver, but the termination of parental rights is unjustifiable.

In some states and tribes, guardianship is considered as a way to prevent the need for foster care placement altogether. In these cases, caregivers are granted legal custody without the child ever having been in custody of the state or tribe.

Note: The term “minor” refers to an individual who has not reached the age of majority. The age of majority will vary from state to state and can range from 18 to 25 years of age depending on identified special needs. “Minor” may be substituted by the term “child” or “youth” throughout the section. The term “birth parents” refers to the child’s biological parents. “Prospective guardian” refers to any adult seeking to become the legal, long-term, guardian of the minor, and the term “guardian” refers to an individual who has been granted legal custody of the minor.

The terms “American Indian and Alaska Native”, “Indian”, and “Native” are used interchangeably throughout the standards to refer to children or families who are members of federally recognized tribes and protected under the Indian Child Welfare Act as well as to agencies or organizations that belong to or advocate on behalf of tribes.

Note: When the case involves an American Indian or Alaska Native child, the organization should engage and collaborate with the child’s tribe throughout the provision of guardianship services as outlined in the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), which governs state proceedings involving Indian children. Updates to the federal regulations and guidelines were made in 2016 and went into effect for all child custody proceedings initiated on or after December 12, 2016, irrespective of any previously initiated proceedings. Organizations must have established procedures for identifying and serving American Indian and Alaska Native children and families that articulate their role in the context of tribal-state child welfare agreements, ICWA, and any relevant state laws pertaining specifically to Indian child welfare. 

ICWA requires the inclusion of tribal representatives throughout all aspects of service delivery, including, but not limited to, permanency planning, assessment, service planning, and case closing. Additional opportunities for inclusion are identified in the standards. While collaboration with federally recognized tribes is required by ICWA, organizations should reach out to tribal representatives in cases involving federally non-recognized tribes as well, as their involvement in the case will improve access to culturally-relevant resources and help establish permanency through a heightened sense of belonging and connectivity to the child’s extended family, clan, or tribe.

While local Indian organizations are not granted the same rights as federally recognized tribes under the Indian Child Welfare Act, there may be circumstances under which their involvement is necessary and appropriate. These organizations can facilitate the child’s connection to his or her tribe, inform the family and the organization of services available to the child, act as an advocate for the American Indian or Alaska Native  child and his or her family, and provide ongoing support and information. This involvement is particularly important when the child’s tribe does not have the infrastructure to participate formally in the case.

Note: Please see GSM Reference List for a list of resources that informed the development of these standards.

Guardianship Services for Minors Narrative

Self-Study Evidence
    • Provide an overview of the different programs being accredited under this section. The overview should describe:
      1. the program's service philosophy and 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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