Private Organization Accreditation

Debt Education and Certification Foundation (DECAF), a private non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, provides high-quality financial education and counseling, with nationwide outreach throughout the U.S. DECAF is HUD-approved, and recognized as one of the 100 Best Companies to Work for in Texas.


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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Adults and children who receive integrated care experience improved health care quality, an improved client care experience, and improved clinical and non-clinical outcomes.

ICHH 2: Assessment

The person and his or her family participate in a comprehensive, strengths-based, individualized assessment to identify service needs and goals.

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
  • Culturally responsive assessments are the norm and any issues with individual staff members are being addressed through performance evaluations (HR 6.02) and training (TS 2.05); or
  • Active client participation occurs to a considerable extent; or
  • Diagnostic tests are consistently and appropriately used, but interviews with staff indicate a need for more training (TS 2.08).
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
  • Assessment and reassessment timeframes are often missed; or
  • Assessment are sometimes not sufficiently individualized;
  • Culturally responsive assessments are not the norm and this is not being addressed in supervision or training; or
  • Staff are not competent to administer diagnostic tests , or tests are not being used when clinically indicated; or
  • Client participation is inconsistent; 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.
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.,
  • There are 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
    • Assessment procedures
    • Assessment tool
    • Procedures for making referrals for specialized screenings, assessments, or tests when needed
    • Job descriptions of personnel responsible for conducting assessments
    • Assessment training curricula 
    • Documentation of training
    • Interview:
      1. Program director
      2. Relevant personnel
      3. Persons served
    • Review case records

  • ICHH 2.01

    Personnel who conduct assessments are:

    1. appropriately qualified by training, skill and experience; and
    2. licensed or certified when required by law.

    Interpretation: For example, medical screenings that are done as part of the assessment should be conducted or reviewed by a medical professional such as a nurse.

  • ICHH 2.02

    Assessments are conducted within established timeframes using a standardized assessment tool to identify: 

    1. the person’s behavioral health, physical health, and community and social support service  needs and goals;
    2. history of trauma;
    3. individual and family strengths, risks, and protective factors;
    4. natural supports and helping networks; and
    5. the impact of the individual’s health care needs on the family unit.

    Interpretation: Basic needs such as food, clothing, and shelter should be considered when identifying the person’s service needs. For organizations serving children, the assessments should take into account systems involvement including education, child welfare and juvenile justice.

    Note: Organizations should review state Medicaid plans or other third party reimbursement requirements to ensure they are meeting required timeframes for conducting assessments.  Organizations serving children in the child welfare system should also be aware of any assessment timeframe requirements applicable to that population.

    Note: See ICHH 3.03 for more information on keeping the assessment up-to-date as part of the case review process.

  • ICHH 2.03

    The assessment incorporates applicable information from a variety of sources, which include, but are not limited to: 

    1. the person; 
    2. the person’s family;
    3. medical and/or clinical case records;  
    4. the results of screening tools; 
    5. content of assessments completed by partnering or referring providers;
    6. other providers; and 
    7. members of the care planning team.

    Interpretation: Information received through assessments completed by partnering or referring providers should be reviewed to identify:

    1. gaps in information;
    2. out-of-date information; and 
    3. information that can be used to minimize duplication of effort.

  • ICHH 2.04

    Assessments are conducted in a culturally responsive manner to identify resources that can increase service participation, support the achievement of agreed upon goals, and promote recovery and resilience.

    Interpretation: Culturally responsive assessments can include attention to geographic location, language of choice, and the person’s religious, racial, ethnic, and cultural background. Other important factors that contribute to a responsive assessment include attention to age, gender identity, sexual orientation, immigration status, and developmental level.

  • FP
    ICHH 2.05

    Assessment procedures include mechanisms to identify and respond to individuals or families in crisis including:

    1. giving priority to urgent needs and emergency situations;
    2. expedited care planning; 
    3. connecting the individual to more intensive services as needed; 
    4. facilitating the development of a safety and/or crisis plan; and
    5. contacting emergency responders as appropriate.

  • ICHH 2.06

    The organization promptly provides or makes arrangements for specialized screenings, assessments, or tests as needed based on information collected during initial and ongoing assessments.

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