WHO IS ACCREDITED?

Private Organization Accreditation

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

Audrey Coleman, RN-MSN

Volunteer Roles: Military Reviewer; Peer Reviewer; Team Leader

My first experience with COA was in 1999 with what was a NC Area Program. I started as a peer reviewer in 2005, doing two to four site visits a year. I am also a team leader and have recently been approved to be a military reviewer.
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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 6: Service Planning

Birth parents, the child, and prospective guardian participate in the development and ongoing review of service plans that are the basis for delivery of services and support.

Update:

  • Revised Interpretation - 10/31/17
    The interpretation was revised to strengthen expectations for tribal involvement in service planning. 

Interpretation: Service goals should be identified for birth parents, the child, and the prospective guardian. Generally, separate plans are developed for each involved party, but in some circumstances it may be appropriate to add the child’s goals to one of the other service plans.

Interpretation: When the case involves an American Indian or Alaska Native child and family, the tribe or local Indian organization must be included in the service planning process and culturally relevant resources available through or recommended the tribe or local Indian organizations should be considered and prioritized when developing the service plan.

The organization should recognize the value of incorporating culturally-grounded interventions into the service plan, and include traditional practices or customs of the child’s culture, tribe, or faith-based community to the greatest extent possible and appropriate. Organizations should also be mindful that interventions adopted for the broader population, including evidence-based practices, may be ineffective or harmful to American Indian and Alaska Native children and families, and should instead identify culturally appropriate interventions that have been demonstrated to be effective for the population served.  

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
  • In a few instances client or staff signatures are missing and/or not dated; 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
  • In a number of instances client or staff signatures are missing and/or not dated (RPM 7.04); or
  • Quarterly reviews are not being done consistently; or
  • Level of care for some clients is inappropriate; or
  • Service planning is often done without full client participation; or
  • Appropriate family involvement is not documented; or
  • Documentation is routinely incomplete and/or missing; or
  • Assessments are done by referral source and no documentation and/or summary of required information present in case record; 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
    • Service planning and monitoring procedures
    • Permanency planning procedures
    • Documentation of case review
    • Interview:
      1. Program director
      2. Relevant personnel
      3. Service recipients
    • Review case records

  • GSM 6.01

    A strengths-based service plan is developed, within an appropriate timeframe, with the full participation of the child, prospective guardian, and birth parent.

    Interpretation: Service planning is to be conducted so that service recipients retain as much personal responsibility and self-determination as possible and desired. Generally, children age 6 and older are to be included in service planning, unless there are clinical justifications for not doing so.

    Research Note: Research suggests that insufficient involvement of the prospective guardian and the birth parent in service planning may lead to low achievement rates of permanency. Attention to continuous parent involvement in service needs should be given until the guardianship becomes legal.


  • GSM 6.02

    Extended family members and significant others, as appropriate and with the consent of the service recipients, are advised of ongoing progress and participate in service planning.

    Interpretation: The organization facilitates participation by, for example, helping arrange transportation or including family in scheduling decisions.

    Research Note: While the efficacy of involving people who can play an effective, informal support role has not been established formally, an approach known as family group conferencing, or family team decision-making, is sometimes used to positive effect in child welfare programs.


  • GSM 6.03

    During service planning the organization and the service recipients explore:

    1. available options;
    2. how the organization can support the achievement of desired outcomes; and
    3. benefits and cultural relevance of planned services.

  • GSM 6.04

    The service plan is based on the assessment, takes into account any identified special needs, and includes:

    1. agreed upon goals, desired outcomes, and timeframes for achieving them;
    2. services, education, and supports to be provided, and by whom; and
    3. the service recipient’s signature.

    Interpretation: The organization should recognize the value of incorporating culturally-grounded interventions into the service plan, and include traditional practices or customs of the child’s culture, tribe, or faith-based community to the greatest extent possible and appropriate.

    Research Note: In many state-subsidized guardianship programs, special needs such as mental health risks, learning disabilities, or behavioral concerns must be identified in the service plan to ensure future service needs will be paid for by the subsidy program.

    Research Note: Caregivers who are unable to afford or find appropriate mental health care are often ill-advised to voluntarily relinquish custody so their child will be more likely to receive necessary services. Every year, thousands of children are unnecessarily institutionalized in this way. When children enter the system with identified mental health needs, special attention needs to be given to connecting youth to appropriate services in a way that does not necessitate the relinquishment of custody by their caregiver.


  • GSM 6.05

    When special needs have been identified, the organization:

    1. advises the family of mechanisms in their state, or by their tribe, to extend guardianship beyond age 18; and
    2. includes in the service plan connections to community resources and necessary systems that the young adult will need when they are no longer considered a minor.

    Interpretation: Connections to necessary systems can include, for example, referring young adults with special needs to the mental health system to be assessed for continuing support needs or an ongoing guardianship arrangement.


  • GSM 6.06

    The worker and a supervisor, or a service or peer team, regularly review each case to assess:

    1. service plan implementation;
    2. progress toward achieving service goals and desired outcomes; and
    3. the continuing appropriateness of agreed upon service goals.

    Update:

    • Revised Interpretation - 10/31/17
      The interpretation was revised with additional guidance for facilitating tribal involvement in service planning and case review. 

    Interpretation: The review should occur:

    1. monthly for children awaiting transfer of custody; and
    2. at least quarterly for prospective guardians and birth parents.

    Interpretation: Experienced workers may conduct reviews of their own cases. In such cases, the worker’s supervisor reviews a sample of the worker’s evaluations as per the requirements of the standard.

    Interpretation: When the case involves an American Indian or Alaska Native child, the tribe or a local Indian organization must receive timely notification of case reviews to ensure their involvement, particularly when any changes made to the service plan plan. Phone and video conferencing can be used to facilitate tribal participation. The case review should include an assessment for compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act.


  • GSM 6.07

    The worker regularly reviews progress toward achievement of goals with birth parents, the prospective guardian, the child, and extended family to the extent possible and revisions to the goals and plans are signed.


  • GSM 6.08

    The organization participates in or facilitates the development of a permanency plan for the minor that identifies:

    1. guardianship as the permanency goal;
    2. activities that support the achievement of guardianship; and
    3. a timeframe for completing the guardianship process.

    Update:

    • Revised Interpretation - 10/31/17
      The interpretation was revised to strengthen expectations around incorporating the tribe and tribal norms into permanency planning. 

    Interpretation: The permanency planning process for American Indian and Alaska Native children and families must always involve tribal representatives and service providers to ensure compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act’s placement preferences and support culturally responsive planning that recognizes and incorporates tribal definitions of permanency and tribal perspectives on the best interests of the child into the permanency plan

    Research Note: Tribal definitions of permanency can vary by tribe but generally focus on the concept of belonging through the identification and enhancement of the child’s support networks including their extended family, clan, and tribe. Thus, permanency is the result of continuity and a sustained sense of belonging.


  • GSM 6.09

    The child receives information about progress toward achieving permanency as appropriate to his or her age, cultural needs, and developmental level.

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