Private Organization Accreditation

Children's Home Society of Florida delivers a unique spectrum of social services designed to protect children at risk of abuse, neglect or abandonment; to strengthen and stabilize families; to help young people break the cycle of abuse and neglect; and to find safe, loving homes for children.


The Village for Families & Children, Inc.

Galo A. Rodriguez, M.P.H., President & CEO

COA Peer Reviewers demonstrated their expertise through their knowledge of COA standards as well as experience in the behavioral health field. In addition, COA’s seminars and tools were very helpful in guiding us through the accreditation process.
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Children and youth who participate in Out-of-School Time programs gain the personal, social, emotional, and educational assets needed to support healthy development, increase well-being, and facilitate a successful transition through childhood and adolescence, and into adulthood.

OST 7: Family Connections

Personnel build relationships with family members that increase the ability of both the organization and family to support children and youth.

Note: Treating families in a respectful and culturally responsive manner and accommodating their communication needs, as addressed in CR 1, will help to facilitate family engagement.

Research Note: Literature highlights the importance of developing strong relationships and partnerships with families, and emphasizes the important role that family plays in youth development.

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 ways families are engaged 
    • Policies and/or procedures for family contact and engagement (OST 7.02, 7.03, 7.04)
    • Table of contents of handbook for families
    • Information made available for families (re: program activities and events, along with ways to support the learning and development of their children), for past quarter
    • Handbook for families
    • Documentation of collaboration with families (e.g., call logs, homework logs, notations in files of children and youth, etc.)
    • Interview:
      1. Program Administrator
      2. Site Director
      3. Program Personnel
      4. Children, youth, and families
    • Review files of children and youth
    • Observe interactions between personnel and families

  • OST 7.01

    Family members are helped to feel welcome and comfortable.

    Interpretation: Personnel should: (1) make an effort to greet family members by name; (2) use friendly voices, expressions, and gestures; (3) show interest in family members’ lives; and (4) be relaxed rather than abrupt. Personnel should also recognize that some cultures like direct communication, while others prefer indirect.

  • OST 7.02

    Personnel engage in two-way communication with families at regular intervals to:

    1. discuss the program’s goals, activities, and events;
    2. learn and share information regarding the needs and progress of children and youth;
    3. offer guidance regarding ways families can support the learning and development of their children;
    4. respond to family needs; and
    5. facilitate connections between families and school-day staff, when appropriate.

    Interpretation:  Organizations should develop policies or procedures regarding expectations for both individual and group contact that specify both how, and how frequently, contact is to occur.  Contact should ideally occur both in writing (e.g., via newsletter, e-mail, and/or text) and in-person (e.g., via meetings or conferences, as well as during informal interactions with family members).  

    Interpretation: Guidance regarding the ways families can support the learning and development of their children will typically be tailored to the program’s goals, as addressed in OST 1.  For example, a program striving to promote academic achievement would typically provide guidance regarding ways to support academic success, and a program striving to promote healthy eating and exercise might educate families on healthy food choices and ways to encourage physical activity at home. 

    Note: As addressed in CR 1.06, personnel should strive to accommodate the communication needs of family members by communicating, in writing and orally, in the languages of the populations served.  The organization should also support family involvement by developing a family handbook, and offering orientation sessions for the families of new program participants, as noted in OST 2.03. 

  • OST 7.03

    Family members are:

    1. provided with opportunities to become appropriately engaged with the program; and
    2. encouraged to provide input and feedback about the program.

    Interpretation: Opportunities for engagement may vary based upon both the nature and goals of the program and the ages of program participants.  For example, while organizations serving younger children may encourage family members to volunteer in the classroom, chaperone field trips, or share their skills and cultural traditions, it may be more appropriate for organizations serving older youth to involve family members by inviting them to milestone events and seeking their collaboration on an ongoing basis.  

    Note: While it is important to provide opportunities for families to engage with the program, personnel should also recognize that families who are unable or unwilling to participate in activities or events at the program can still support the learning and development of their children in other ways. This points to the importance of offering families guidance regarding the variety of ways families can support the learning and development of their children, as referenced in OST 7.02.

  • OST 7.04

    Families are provided with information about resources and services needed to address issues that pose barriers to children’s learning and development.

    Interpretation: Needed resources and services may include, but are not limited to: child care subsidies; food pantries or programs; medical or dental services; mental health services, including any services needed to promote recovery from trauma; housing or employment assistance; adult education classes; parent education classes; and financial management assistance. COA recognizes that some organizations may implement this standard by connecting families with another resource, such as a school counselor, who is responsible for connecting children and families with needed supports.

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