WHO IS ACCREDITED?

Private Organization Accreditation

Northside Psychological Services is a combination of both private practice and community mental health provider. We provide services to children and adults (EAP, private insurance, private pay, etc.) in our private practice setting. In our Community Care Program, we provide services to children and adolescents in their homes.
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VOLUNTEER TESTIMONIAL

Harry Hunter, MSW, MBA, Ph.D.

Volunteer Roles: Peer Reviewer; Team Leader

Peer Reviewer for the month of January 2013, Dr. Hunter has been volunteering for COA since 2005, conducting five site reviews.
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Purpose

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.

GSM 3: Child and Youth Permanency

When reunification with birth parents has been ruled out, the organization and the family explore all permanency options to determine if guardianship is the best permanency option for the child, birth parent, and prospective guardian.

Interpretation: Consideration of all permanency options can be demonstrated through the development of a mediated agreement signed by all parties invested in the child’s future. Child welfare mediation is conducted with a neutral third-party to improve communication, maximize family participation in decision making, and expedite permanency. Another way to demonstrate consideration of permanency options is through the use of permanency charts that compare and contrast permanency options according to their legal and financial distinctions, and the roles and responsibilities of caregiver and parent.

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
    • Procedures for exploring permanency options with the family
No On-Site Evidence
    • Interview:
      1. Program director
      2. Relevant personnel
      3. Service recipients
    • Review case records

  • GSM 3.01

    The organization clearly explains the differences between adoption, guardianship, and long-term foster care to the birth parent; the prospective guardian; and the child, as appropriate to their age, cultural needs, and developmental level, including:

    1. the legal implications of each option;
    2. available support services; and
    3. financial assistance.

    Research Note: The literature suggests that misunderstanding the legal and financial differences between guardianship and adoption contributes to confusion about which option is in the best interests of the child, and in some cases, poor permanency decision making.


  • GSM 3.02

    The child is encouraged to discuss his or her interest in and understanding of guardianship, as appropriate to his or her age, cultural needs, and developmental level.

    Update:

    • Revised Interpretation - 10/31/17

    Interpretation: State regulations may require obtaining the child’s consent when guardianship is pursued. However, when the case involves an American Indian or Alaska Native child, such regulations may also be superceded by the Indian Child Welfare Act, wherein consent is not required. 


  • GSM 3.03

    The organization takes into account, whenever feasible and appropriate, birth parents’ expressed desires regarding the child’s placement, and when this consideration can delay placement, the organization:

    1. acts in accordance with applicable law, including the Indian Child Welfare Act;
    2. tries to resolve the conflict in the best interest of an expeditious and permanent placement; and
    3. promptly seeks legal counsel regarding resolution of such differences.

    Update:

    • Added Interpretation - 10/31/17
      An interpretation was added with greater guidance for placing American Indian and Alaska Native children per ICWA requirements. 

    Interpretation: Child welfare mediation with a neutral third-party can be used to resolve conflict among involved parties and expedite permanency.

    Interpretation: In cases where the birth parent may be unable to participate in the process, such as incarceration or illness, the organization works with the individual to write down their expressed desires regarding the child’s placement for consideration by the court.

    Interpretation: When the organization is working with American Indian and Alaska Native children and families, tribal representatives and service providers must be involved in placement decisions and placement changes in order to ensure compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act, which requires that preference be given to resource families in the following order: 

    1. a member of the child’s extended family;
    2. families who are members of the child’s tribe; and
    3. other American Indian or Alaska Native families.

    Alternative placement preferences established by the child’s tribe may apply, and the court may also take into consideration the preferences of the child or his/her birth parents. Organizations should work closely with the child’s tribe to identify placement options within the tribal community. Families from all tribes to which the child has ties should be considered as placement options, and eligibility criteria should be consistent with the norms of the tribe.

    Research Note: As evidence of compliance with these placement preferences, a record of each placement must be maintained by the state in which the placement was made. These records should be made available upon request of the United States Secretary of Interior or the child’s tribe.


  • GSM 3.04

    The permanency decision is based on what is in the best interests of the child and reasons for the decision are documented in the case record.

    Interpretation: If guardianship is found to be an inappropriate permanency option for the child, the organization works with the family to determine a more viable permanency option. Other viable permanency options can include adoption or guardianship with another caregiver. Continued stays in foster c