Private Organization Accreditation

Catholic Charities alleviates human suffering and improves the quality of life of 100,000 people annually, regardless of religious background. A staff of 600 provides support and services related to housing, food, mental health, children's services, addiction treatment, and domestic violence services.


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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Individuals who receive guardianship services maintain a level of independence and self-determination appropriate to their functional capacity, and are at minimized risk of abuse, neglect, or exploitation.

PA-AG 9: Guardian of the Estate

The individual’s estate is managed in an open and transparent manner that:

  1. is consistent with service goals and the individual’s values;
  2. encourages the individual’s involvement to the greatest extent possible;
  3. protects the individual’s assets; and
  4. maintains or improves the individual’s financial standing as appropriate.

Note: The terminology used may vary; however, any agency court-ordered to manage an individual’s finances is expected to meet the standards outlined in this section. That includes guardians of the destitute who may only be responsible for managing the individual’s public benefits. Guardian of the estate may also be responsible for managing the individual’s stocks and bonds, paying bills, income and property taxes, real estate, insurance, and maintaining eligibility for public benefits.

NA The agency only acts as guardian of the person.

Rating Indicators
Full Implementation, Outstanding Performance
A rating of (1) indicates that the agency's practices fully meet the standard and reflect a high level of capacity.  
  • All elements or requirements outlined in the standard are evident in practice, with rare or no exceptions; exceptions do not impact service quality or agency performance. 
Substantial Implementation, Good Performance
A rating of (2) indicates that an agency's infrastructure and practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement. 
  • The majority of the standards requirements have been met and the basic framework required by the standard has been implemented.  
  • Minor inconsistencies and not yet fully developed practices are noted; however, these do not significantly impact service quality or agency performance.  
Partial Implementation, Concerning Performance
A rating of (3) indicates that the agency's observed infrastructure and/or practices require significant improvement.  
  • The agency has not implemented the basic framework of the standard but instead has in place only part of this framework.   
  • Omissions or exceptions to the practices outlined in the standard occur regularly, or practices are implemented in a cursory or haphazard manner. 
  • Service quality or agency functioning may be compromised.   
  • Capacity is at a basic level.
Unsatisfactory Implementation or Performance
A rating of (4) indicates that implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all.  
  • The agency’s observed service delivery infrastructure and practices are weak or non-existent; or show signs of neglect, stagnation, or deterioration.  
Please see Rating Guidance for additional rating examples. 

Table of Evidence

Self-Study Evidence On-Site Evidence On-Site Activities
    • A description of services provided
    • Procedures for conducting inventory of client assets
    • Procedures for sharing financial information with service recipient
    • Guardian of the Estate financial management procedures
    • Documentation of coordination with Guardian of the Person as applicable
    • Informational material on maintaining eligibility for public benefits
    • Interview:
      1. Program director
      2. Relevant personnel
    • Review case records

  • PA-AG 9.01

    The individual participates in estate planning and financial decision-making to the greatest extent possible given his or her assessed capacity for decision-making and subject to state law and court order

  • PA-AG 9.02

    Upon initiation of guardianship, a thorough inventory of the individual’s assets is conducted to determine:

    1. the type and value of the individual’s assets;
    2. how assets are held, owned or managed;
    3. areas of risk or potential loss; and
    4. what assets should be maintained.

    Interpretation: Assets include real estate such as residential or commercial property and personal properties such as investments, insurance, vehicles and other valuables.

  • PA-AG 9.03

    The guardian of the estate communicates regularly with the guardian of the person, or any other health care decision-maker, to ensure the financial plan is consistent with service goals.

    Interpretation: This may include communication within the agency or with outside providers. Some organizations have successfully implemented a checklist system, or similar protocol, for ensuring everyone involved with a particular case is aware of decisions made or work done on behalf of the individual.

  • PA-AG 9.04

    Financial information is available to the individual upon request, as appropriate to their assessed capacity to handle such information and in accordance with state law or the court order.

  • PA-AG 9.05

    The individual’s income is used to meet his or her identified needs and can include:

    1. food, clothing, shelter, and utilities;
    2. health care and prescriptions;
    3. home care, aide services, and housekeeping;
    4. transportation;
    5. insurance;
    6. legal or other professional fees, with court approval;
    7. pre-paid burial arrangements;
    8. social and recreational needs; and
    9. savings.

  • FP
    PA-AG 9.06

    The agency has procedures governing the management of funds that protect the assets of individuals, including:

    1. an accounting system that accurately tracks all transactions;
    2. authorization and processing of disbursements;
    3. regular, internal audit of client accounts;
    4. an external audit of client accounts conducted at least once every three years;
    5. segregation of duties regarding cash disbursements;
    6. tracking system to notify guardians of key due dates;
    7. separate accounts for each individual; and
    8. managing funds in accordance with the Prudent Investor Rule.

    Interpretation: Authorities that may require regular accounting reports include the courts, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Social Security Administration when the guardian has been appointed by the Social Security Administration to serve as a representative payee who manages the individual’s Social Security payments. A growing number of social service agencies are being appointed by the Social Security Administration to serve as representative payees for beneficiaries who lack the capacity to make financial decisions.

    Interpretation: Key due dates can include billing due dates, tax deadlines, legal notifications, contractual deadlines or expirations, expiration dates for public benefits; and due dates for submitting accounting reports to regulatory bodies and oversight entities, including the court.

    Interpretation:Money can be pooled into one bank account when accounting software has the capacity to manage each account separately, provide adequate documentation of income and expenditures, protect the holdings of each individual, and complies with all applicable laws and contractual obligations.

    p>Research Note: The Social Security Administration recommends that a record for all disbursements be retained for at least two years as documentation of how money is being spent.

  • PA-AG 9.07

    Guardianship workers are familiar with state and federal regulations governing eligibility for public benefits, and take appropriate steps to maintain the individual’s eligibility.

    Interpretation: Guardianship workers should be aware of income and resource limitations and transactions or assistance from family members that may disqualify the individual from continuing to receive public benefits. They should also be aware of tools that can be used to spend down assets to within limits, such as the establishment of a special needs trust, or pre-payment of funeral or burial plans. Examples of assistance from family members that may disqualify beneficiaries from continuing to receive benefits can include rent payment, groceries, or cash. However, family members may be able to provide payments directly to vendors for items other than food or housing such as phone or cable. Specific allowances will vary by state.

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