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.


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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Child and Family Services promote child and family well-being, protect children’s safety, stablilize and strengthen families, and ensure permanency.


The Child and Family Services Standards reflect an essential array of services intended to ensure the safety, permanency, and well-being of children and promote the stability and resiliency of families.  Agency functions typically include the following:

  • Reports of suspected child maltreatment are received, screened, and investigated or assessed.
  • When a case is opened and children are able to remain at home with their families, the agency monitors the safety of children and helps parents stabilize their families and fulfill their parental roles and responsibilities.
  • When necessary, the agency separates children from their families as a protective intervention, and arranges for appropriate out-of-home care. Out-of-home care settings include:
    • Family foster care, which is provided by foster parents who volunteer to bring children into their families and give them opportunities for family and community living. Foster parents always care for children in the custody of the agency.
    • Kinship care, which is the full-time care of children by relatives, members of tribes or clans, or anyone to whom a family relationship is ascribed. Kinship caregivers may provide care through arrangements made privately or informally in the family, or through arrangements made with the involvement and oversight of the agency.  In some jurisdictions or circumstances kin may serve as foster parents.  
    • Treatment foster care, which provides a therapeutic family environment and intensive clinical services for children whose medical, developmental, or psychiatric needs cannot be met by their families or in traditional family foster care. With the support of a multidisciplinary treatment team, specially trained foster parents provide nurturing care and treatment-based intervention.  
    • Residential treatment settings, when children are in need of short- or long-term structured medical or behavioral/mental health treatment and no other appropriate and more family-like setting is possible.
  • While children are separated from their homes and families, the agency provides services, supports, and monitoring to ensure that children’s needs are met, and facilitate family reunification and stability.
  • When children are separated from their families and reunification is no longer an option, the agency collaborates with children, their families, and resource families to facilitate permanency through adoption or guardianship.

Research Note: The disproportional representation of some groups of children and families of color within the child welfare system, and the disparity in service delivery and outcomes for children and families depending on racial and ethnic group membership, has been well documented. Research conducted by the federal government identified at least four contributing factors to the overrepresentation of certain groups of children of color in child welfare: poverty, racial bias, inadequate access to services, and challenges in finding permanent families. Analyzing policies, procedures, and practices through a racial equity lens has been identified as an important step for addressing disproportionality and reducing disparities.  A racial equity lens focuses on how race and ethnicity shape access to resources, treatment, and experiences with power, from a contemporary and historical perspective.

Research Note: As referenced throughout this section of standards, the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) provides a set of “minimum federal standards” which govern child welfare proceedings involving American Indian and Alaska Native children in child welfare systems. Updates to the federal regulations and guidelines were made in 2016 and went into effect for all child custody proceedings initiated on or after December 12, 2016, irrespective of any previously initiated proceedings. Agencies must have established procedures for determining if children have American Indian or Alaska Native heritage and are members or eligible for membership in a federally recognized tribe, and determine their role in the context of tribal-state child welfare agreements, ICWA, and any relevant state laws pertaining specifically to American Indian or Alaska Native child welfare. 

Agencies should be familiar with the relevant legal requirements of ICWA and all policies, procedures, and agency documentation should be designed to ensure compliance.  ICWA requires the inclusion of tribal representatives throughout all aspects of service delivery, including, but not limited to, assessment, service planning, permanency planning, case closing, and aftercare. Specific practice standards reflect the stages of practice that require deferment to tribal jurisdiction or collaboration with tribal representatives. 

While collaboration with federally recognized tribes is required by ICWA, agencies should reach out to tribal representatives when children have heritage in tribes that are not federally recognized as well. Tribes and Indian agencies serve as an important resource to local child welfare agencies and agencies working with American Indian and Alaska Native children. Tribes can facilitate children’s connections to their culture and tribal government, inform families and agencies of culturally relevant services available to children, act as an advocate for American Indian and Alaska Native children and their families, and provide ongoing support and information as case plans are created and permanency goals are set. Actively seeking tribal involvement is particularly essential when children’s tribes do not have the infrastructure to participate formally in the court case or when the tribes are geographically distant from the children’s families or homes and their participation is somewhat limited. 

Working with tribal families also requires agencies to have a basic understanding of the historic treatment of American Indian and Alaska Native children and families by child welfare systems. This treatment has left many Native families and communities to struggle with intergenerational and historical trauma that must be considered in assessment, planning, service delivery, and aftercare. Agencies should be mindful that interventions adopted for the broader child welfare population, including evidence-based practices, may be ineffective or harmful to American Indian and Alaska Native children and families, and instead identify culturally-appropriate interventions that have been demonstrated to be effective for the population served. 

Research Note: The importance of providing trauma-informed care is reinforced by a growing body of research on the impact of adverse childhood experiences and a federal policy focus that compels child and family-serving systems to ensure children’s social and emotional well-being. 

A national network of providers, researchers, and families working collaboratively to raise the standard of care has defined a trauma-informed child and family-serving system as one in which all programs: 

  1. routinely screen for trauma exposure and related symptoms; 
  2. use culturally appropriate and evidence-based assessment and treatment for traumatic stress and associated mental health symptoms; 
  3. make resources available to children, families, and providers on trauma exposure, its impact, and treatment; 
  4. engage in efforts to strengthen the resilience and protective factors of children and families impacted by and vulnerable to trauma; 
  5. address parent and caregiver trauma and its impact on the family system; 
  6. emphasize continuity of care and collaboration across child-serving systems; and
  7. maintain an environment of care for staff that addresses, minimizes, and treats secondary traumatic stress, and increases staff resilience.

Note: The Child and Family Services (PA-CFS) standards were released in August 2016 as part of COA’s release of new Standards for Public Agencies. For more information, please refer to the CFS Standards Update Summary - Public

Note:  The following definitions apply throughout this section of standards:

  • The term “children” includes infants, toddlers, school-age children, and youth, including youth in care after age eighteen. The term “youth” is used only when standards refer directly to services for older children, generally fourteen years old and up. 
  • The terms “parent” and “family” typically refer to a child’s biological parents and/or family of origin, but can also refer to anyone who is the child’s guardian or primary caregiver prior to agency involvement.  For example, while core concepts addressing “Services for Parents” and “Family Reunification” are typically for birth parents, they can also be applicable to other primary caregivers from whom the child was separated due to maltreatment concerns. “Parent” and “family” are also used to refer to adoptive parents and families and legal guardians in the core concepts that refer to expectations and supports for these families. However, the term “family” is typically not intended to include “resource families,” which are defined separately below, except when referencing the extended family that may include related kinship caregivers. 
  • The terms “resource parent” and “resource family” refer to foster parents, kinship caregivers, and treatment foster parents, as well as prospective adoptive parents and guardians. When standards address practice requirements relevant only to certain sub-groups of resource parents (e.g., kinship caregivers, or treatment foster parents), this is indicated in the language of the standard.
  • The terms “American Indian and Alaska Native”, “Indian”, and “Native” are used interchangeably throughout the standards to refer to children or families who are members of federally recognized tribes and protected under the Indian Child Welfare Act as well as to agencies or organizations that belong to or advocate on behalf of tribes.
Note: Please note that all Administration and Management Standards and Service Delivery Administration Standards that are applicable to foster parents specifically reference foster parents within the standard. If foster parents are not specifically addressed in a standard, it does not apply to them.

Note: The PA-CFS standards reflect public agencies’ responsibility for ensuring that the safety, permanency, and well-being needs of children and families with open cases are met in relation to services provided, whether directly or by contracted service providers. 

Note: Please see CFS Reference List for a list of resources that informed the development of this standard. 

Child and Family Services Narrative

Self-Study Evidence
    • Provide an individual overview of each program or service area being accredited under this section.  The overview should describe:
      1. the approach to delivering services;
      2. eligibility criteria;
      3. any unique or special services provided to specific populations; and
      4. major funding streams.
    • If elements of the service are provided by contract with outside programs or through participation in a formal, coordinated service delivery system, provide a list that identifies the providers and the service components for which they are responsible. Do not include services provided by referral.
    • Provide any other information you would like the peer review team to know about these programs or service areas.
    • A demographic profile of children and families served by the programs or service areas being reviewed under this service section, with percentages representing the following:
      1. racial and ethnic characteristics;
      2. gender/gender identity;
      3. age;
      4. presence of mental health and emotional/behavioral conditions;
      5. medical conditions;
      6. major religious groups; and
      7. major language groups.
    • As applicable, a list of groups or classes including, for each group or class:
      1. the type of activity/group;
      2. whether the activity/group is short-term or ongoing;
      3. how often the activity/group is offered;
      4. the average number of participants per session of the activity/group, in the last month; and
      5. the total number of participants in the activity/group, in the last month.
    • A list of any programs or service areas that were opened, merged with other programs or services, or closed.
    • A list or description of outcomes and outputs being measured.
    • Reports of Suspected Child Maltreatment Data Sheet - Private, Public
    • Family Foster Care and Kinship Care Data Sheet - Private, Public, Canadian, Network (required only for Family Foster Care programs)
    • Adoption Data Sheet - Private, Public, Canadian, Network
    • Guardianship Data Sheet - Private, Public
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