Private Organization Accreditation

Sweetser, a Maine non-profit agency operating since 1828, provides comprehensive mental and behavioral health and substance abuse treatment services. Statewide, it serves around 15,000 consumers a year, including children, adults, and families in outpatient, office-based, and residential settings.


Bonnie Bagley

Volunteer Roles: Evaluator; Lead Evaluator; Peer Reviewer; Team Leader

I have found that being a COA Volunteer builds my professional skills and experience in ways that more traditional workshops do not. The opportunity to learn about best practices through the COA standards and then see how agencies implement them is truly a growth experience.
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Juvenile Justice Residential Services promote public safety by providing youth with a supportive, structured setting that helps them address their needs and develop the attitudes and skills needed to make responsible choices, avoid negative behaviors, and become productive, connected, and law-abiding citizens.

JJR 13: Service Culture

The service culture and daily living experiences support personal growth, rehabilitation, and positive behavior.

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
    • A description of services
    • Procedures regarding visits, phone calls, and mail
    • Program rules and expectations
    • Program schedule
    • Interview:
      1. Program director
      2. Relevant personnel
      3. Youth served
    • Review case records
    • Observe site

  • FP
    JJR 13.01

    Rules and expectations are:

    1. clearly conveyed to youth and personnel; and
    2. enforced in a fair and consistent manner.

  • JJR 13.02

    The organization maintains a therapeutic culture that encourages positive, respectful, and supportive interactions between:

    1. youth and personnel; and
    2. youth and their peers.

    Interpretation: Personnel should also strive to anticipate, manage, and reduce the incidence of bullying and other unsafe, negative, or anti-social peer interactions.

    Note: The training and activities addressed in JJR 10 should support the development of the positive, pro-social culture described in this standard.

  • JJR 13.03

    The organization maintains an accurate and readily-accessible schedule of services, and youth spend their days engaged in meaningful programming and activities.

  • JJR 13.04

    Treatment, services, and activities are appropriate for and sensitive to youths’ age, developmental level, language, gender and gender identity, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and past experiences of trauma.

    Note: See the Research Note to JJR 7.06.

  • JJR 13.05

    Youth have opportunities to participate in activities appropriate to their skills and interests, including:

    1. sports and athletic activities;
    2. cultural enrichment activities;
    3. social activities; and
    4. religious services.

  • FP
    JJR 13.06

    The organization evaluates youth for their ability to participate in recreational activities, and obtains a medical records release, or a signed document from a qualified medical professional stating that a youth is physically capable of participating in sports and athletic activities.

  • FP
    JJR 13.07

    Youth have the right to:

    1. receive visits;
    2. make telephone calls; and
    3. send and receive mail.

    Interpretation: The organization should allow for privacy in visits, phone calls, and correspondence to the extent possible and appropriate. Mail may be screened for contraband, but should not be read for content without due cause. All mail inspections should be done in the youth’s presence. Correspondence with attorneys may be inspected for contraband but should not be read, and phone calls and meetings with attorneys should not be monitored. Youth should be informed of the organization’s policies and procedures regarding visits, phone calls, and correspondence, and advised of any limitations on privacy.

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