Private Organization Accreditation

Stillwater-based FamilyMeans provides services in budget and credit counseling, mental health, collaborative divorce, caregiver support, youth programming, and an employee assistance program. 


Barry Gourley

Volunteer Roles: Endorser; Peer Reviewer

It is an honor to be a COA volunteer. I’ve had a great opportunity to work with fabulous COA volunteers, I’ve grown professionally in the COA accreditation process and I’ve met some wonderful people across this nation who are working hard to help and support children and families.
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The agency’s administrative and service environments contribute to agency effectiveness and are respectful, safe, and accessible.

PA-ASE 6: Safety and Security

The agency ensures the safety of its premises, personnel, service recipients, and visitors.

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 administration and management 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
    County/Municipality Administered Agency, State Administered Agency (Central Office), or other Public Entity 
    • Policies/Procedures: 
      1. On- and off-site safety procedures and communication protocols (PA-ASE 6.01)
      2. Procedures for vehicle use including annual validation of licenses and driving records (PA-ASE 6.02)
      3. Procedures for preventing and responding to missing and runaway children and youth (PA-ASE 6.01)
    • Copy of most recent safety assessment (PA-ASE 6.01)
    • Motor vehicle insurance coverage expectations (PA-ASE 6.02)
    • Description of how the agency promotes the physical, psychological and emotional health and safety of service recipients (PA-ASE 6.03)
    State Administered Agency (Regional Office)
    • Regional safety procedures/protocols specific to office locations, services provided, and staffing patterns (PA-AE 6.01)
    • Description of how the agency promotes the physical, psychological and emotional health and safety of service recipients (PA-ASE 6.03)
    All Agencies
    • Improvement plans and documentation of actions taken in response to most recent safety assessment (PA-ASE 6.01)
    • Training files, database, or personnel files that demonstrate attendance at safety training (PA-ASE 6.01)
    • Copies of licenses, driving records, and insurance documentation (PA-AS 6.02)
    • Contracts, including safety expectations, with any outside transportation providers (PA-AS 6.02)
    All Agencies
    • Interview:
      1. Vehicle maintenance personnel
      2. Personnel 
    • Observe vehicles
    • Observe facilities

  • FP
    PA-ASE 6.01

    The agency assesses its safety and security needs and:

    1. takes appropriate measures to protect the safety of all persons who are in its facilities or on its grounds;
    2. develops safety and communication protocols for staff that work off-site, as applicable;
    3. trains staff on potential risks they may encounter on-site, in the community, or in service recipients’ homes;
    4. trains staff on self-protection techniques, as necessary; and
    5. has security systems to deter facility break-ins.

    Interpretation: Such measures can include bars on windows and alarm systems, and written policies prohibiting the possession of weapons on the premises except by qualified security and law enforcement personnel. Staff safety measures should include protocols for staff that work off-site, and methods for maintaining contact with them. Working “off-site” is also commonly known as working “in the field.” Off-site workers may also be telecommuters. Additionally, the standard requires the agency to have a readily accessible telephone in each major service area.

    Interpretation: Element (d) does not apply to credit counseling agencies.

  • FP
    PA-ASE 6.02

    An agency that permits or requires the use of agency- or privately-owned vehicles to transport service recipients requires:
    1. the use of age-appropriate passenger restraint systems; 
    2. adequate passenger supervision, as mandated by statute or regulation; 
    3. proper maintenance of agency-owned vehicles; 
    4. current registration and inspection of vehicles; 
    5. annual validation of licenses and driving records; and 
    6. motor vehicle insurance.

    Interpretation: This standard applies to vehicles owned by the agency as well as those owned by its personnel, volunteers, and contractors that are used for transporting service recipients. This standard does not apply to vehicles owned by resource families, which are covered by PA-FKC 17.06, PA-AS 8.08, and PA-CFS 24.06. Risk associated with using vehicles for job related tasks other than transporting service recipients, such as home visits, traveling between sites, attending meetings, etc. should be reviewed as part of the agency’s annual risk management review in PA-RPM 2.

    When state inspection is not available (d), the agency should establish alternate procedures for verifying proper maintenance of both privately- and agency-owned vehicles. 

    Interpretation: An agency can receive a rating of 2 on PA-ASE 6.02 if one or two elements of the standard are not fully implemented, e.g., copies of licenses and driving records are not available or out of date for no more than 20% of personnel; or registration and vehicle inspection records are out of date for no more than 20% of privately-owned vehicles. However, if any one element of the standard needs significant improvement, the agency will receive a rating of 3. 

    Interpretation: Regarding element (a), United States federal law requires school buses weighing under 10,000 pounds to have lap-shoulder (three-point) passenger restraint systems in place. States have the authority to implement more stringent seat belt regulations, especially for school buses weighing over 10,000 pounds. Agencies should refer to state and local regulations to determine if retrofitting is necessary. 

    Interpretation: Children weighing less than 50 pounds should be secured in a child safety restraint system (car or booster seat) which meets federal motor vehicle safety standards (See FMVSS No. 213). Please also refer to state and local regulations for more stringent weight requirements, and specific age and seat requirements. 

    Interpretation: When the agency has a contract with an outside transportation provider, it must include relevant safety expectations in the contract. 

    NA The agency does not permit or require transporting service recipients in agency- or privately-owned vehicles.

  • FP
    PA-ASE 6.03

    The agency promotes the physical, psychological, and emotional safety of service recipients by: 

    1. screening service recipients for histories involving violence or other trauma;
    2. monitoring the service population for emerging physical, psychological, and emotional safety needs; and
    3. making changes to the service environment or procedures as necessary to respond to the safety needs of the population. 

    Interpretation: Regarding element (c), mechanisms that can be used to respond to the safety needs of the population include using staggered scheduling and separate entrances to ensure safety and anonymity; monitoring interactions among service recipients and staff to ensure they remain respectful, calming, and empowering; establishing and enforcing rules  for the service environment; and soliciting and responding to feedback from service recipients regarding their perceived safety in the service environment.

    Research Note: The National Council for Behavioral Health and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration identify a physical environment that promotes a sense of safety and collaboration as one of the key domains for implementing a trauma-informed approach to care, and a fundamental component of service accessibility for service recipients who have experienced trauma.

    NA The agency only provides Financial Education and Counseling services, Early Childhood Education, Youth Development Services, or other services where screening for histories involving violence or other trauma would be inappropriate for the service model.  

  • PA-ASE 6.04

    The agency establishes procedures for preventing and responding to missing and runaway children and youth that address: 

    1. creating an environment that provides a sense of safety, support, and community;
    2. identifying risks or triggers that may indicate likeliness to run away from programs;
    3. communication and reporting to relevant staff, authorities, and parents or legal guardians; and
    4. welcoming, screening, and debriefing when youth return to the program.

    Interpretation: Programs serving families experiencing homelessness should use a family-centered approach to address elements (b) - (d), including:

    1. developing a safety plan and response protocol in collaboration with the family if a risk or safety need is identified for a child/youth;
    2. collaborating closely with the parent(s) in the event a child/youth goes missing or runs away; and 
    3. debriefing with the family once the child/youth returns, including revising the safety plan if needed.

    Research Note: Evidence indicates that youth who become pregnant may run away once their pregnancy is discovered, which can delay the delivery of essential prenatal care or hinder the youth’s ability to terminate a pregnancy within the legally allowable timeframes. Agencies should take measures to ensure that pregnancy is not stigmatized by caseworkers or resource families in order to discourage running away, and encourage youth to disclose their pregnancies and gain timely access to needed services. 

    NA The agency does not provide residential programs that serve children and youth or families with children. 

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