WHO IS ACCREDITED?

Private Organization Accreditation

Consumer Credit Counseling Service of the Savannah Area's mission is to provide the best non-profit community service, dedicated to delivering professional and confidential counseling, debt management, housing counseling and consumer education to all segments of the community regardless of ability to pay.
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ORGANIZATION TESTIMONIAL

Holy Family Institute

Sister Linda Yankoski, President/CEO

The Council On Accreditation provides all stakeholders involved in the delivery of social services the assurance that the organization is credible, effective, and is committed to quality improvement. The COA process is an important tool for anyone involved in leading an organization to establish best practices and maintaining and updating these practices over time.
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Purpose

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

PA-CFS 14: Child Permanency

The agency facilitates permanency planning to promote physical, emotional, and legal permanence for children. 
 

Interpretation: Permanency planning is a child-centered process that aims to ensure children of all ages, including older youth, have enduring relationships that are intended to last a lifetime, offer the social and legal status of family membership, and support their connections with extended family and cultures and communities of origin. It is important to note that youth should be connected with committed, caring adults even if they do not wish to be adopted. See PA-CFS 17 for more information about helping children build and sustain relationships with caring individuals of their choosing, and PA-CFS 22 for more information about connecting youth transitioning to adulthood to lifelong supports. 

Note: As noted in PA-CFS 8, permanency planning often occurs in conjunction with service planning. 

Table of Evidence

Self-Study Evidence On-Site Evidence On-Site Activities
    • Procedures for:
      1. Permanency planning
      2. Finding and notifying kin
    • Reports or other aggregate data regarding the length of stay in out-of-home care, from the previous year
No On-Site Evidence
    • Interview:
      1. Agency leadership
      2. Relevant personnel
      3. Children and families served
      4. Resource parents
      5. Residential treatment providers
    • Review case records

  • PA-CFS 14.01

    Permanency planning:

    1. occurs with families and the team of people that support them, including out-of-home care providers, service providers, and extended family members or other supportive individuals identified by the family, as appropriate; and
    2. is child-driven, with children actively involved in the process as appropriate to their age and developmental level.

    Update:

    • Revised Standard - 10/31/17
      The interpretation has been revised with greater guidance for facilitating tribal involvement in permanency planning for American Indian and Alaska Native children, and a note was added to address state versus federal ICWA requirements for child consent to guardianship and adoption. 

    Interpretation: Child-driven permanency planning involves children at every stage of the process including conversations about what permanency means to them, the discovery of extended family and other significant adults, and the formation of a permanency team that will support their desired outcomes and have an ongoing role in their lives. 
     
    Interpretation: The permanency planning process for American Indian and Alaska Native children and families must always involve tribal representatives and service providers to ensure compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act’s placement preferences and support culturally responsive planning that recognizes and incorporates tribal definitions of permanency and tribal perspectives of the best interests of the child into the permanency plan. To facilitate full tribal participation, the child welfare agency must ensure that the tribe or local Indian organization receives timely notification of court or administrative case reviews and is informed of any changes made to the permanency plan.

    Note: State regulations may require obtaining the child’s consent when guardianship or adoption is pursued. However, when the case involves an American Indian or Alaska Native child, such regulations may also be superceded by the Indian Child Welfare Act, wherein consent is not required.

    Note: See PA-CFS 14.02 for more information regarding the identification and involvement of potential family resources who can be involved in permanency planning.


  • PA-CFS 14.02

    The agency facilitates family connections and engagement by:

    1. exercising due diligence in identifying and notifying all adult relatives of a child’s separation from his or her family within 30 days; and
    2. supporting the involvement of potential family resources in permanency planning.

    Interpretation: The agency should have established procedures for identification of kin that involve a combination of engaging children and family members, conducting a thorough review of the case record, and using technological resources for family-finding. Notification should be provided in family members’ preferred languages and in multiple forms, including written form, in order to ensure accountability and maintain a record of efforts to notify.  Intensive efforts should be made to identify and notify at least relatives up to the third degree, and ideally relatives up to the fifth degree, including non-custodial parents and their relatives, relatives of incarcerated parents, and family members outside of the country. While federal law does not require it, the agency should ideally also identify and involve other family-like supports, including non-related adults with a connection to the child. As indicated in the Interpretation to PA-CFS 14, it is also important to note the necessity of finding life-long connections for youth even when they do not currently wish to be adopted. See PA-CFS 17 for more information about helping children build and sustain relationships with caring individuals of their choosing, and PA-CFS 22 for more information about connecting youth transitioning to adulthood to lifelong supports.

    Note: Element (a) of this standard does not apply to cases in which kinship care does not involve an exchange of custody that requires legal permanency planning.
     
    Note: See PA-CFS 23.02 for more information regarding child-specific recruitment. See PA-CR 2 for standards regarding confidentiality and privacy protections and the release of confidential information. 

    Research Note: Family-finding efforts support the increased identification and involvement of incarcerated parents and their families in the permanency plan. Unless the court has determined that reasonable efforts to support reunification are suspended, public agencies are mandated to work with incarcerated parents as with other parents. This involvement is important for children’s well-being and may increase motivation for incarcerated parents to work for reunification or participate in the development of an alternative plan.


  • PA-CFS 14.03

    Concurrent planning is documented and includes: 

    1. early, preliminary, and reasoned assessment of the potential for reunification, the best interests of the child, and the need for an alternative plan; 
    2. full disclosure to all involved parties of all permanency options, including expectations, implications, available supports, and legal timelines; 
    3. joining a resource family that is prepared to develop a life-long relationship with the child; and 
    4. counseling parents about relinquishment and alternative permanency options if needed.

    Interpretation: Children’s ages should not limit the consideration of all permanency options and, as noted in the Interpretation to PA-CFS 14, the agency should strive to connect children of all ages with life-long familial connections, regardless of their permanency goals.
     
    Interpretation: Tribal customary adoptions, which are arranged through custom and tradition and adjudicated or approved by the tribal court, and allow for the transfer of custody while preserving parental rights, should be considered as a permanency option for American Indian and Alaska Native children.
     
    Interpretation: Federal and state statutes or administrative rules may provide guidance about when concurrent planning is required, and how concurrent planning is to be conducted. When concurrent planning is not formalized, workers can be proactive with regard to the early identification of different permanency options for children, as is the intention of concurrent planning. 

    Research Note: Rather than considering alternative options for permanency only after family reunification has been ruled out, concurrent planning seeks to eliminate delays in achieving permanence by pursuing all reasonable options at the earliest possible point following a child’s separation from his or her family.


  • PA-CFS 14.04

    Permanency plans document:

    1. permanency goals;
    2. why goals are in the best interest of children and their well-being;
    3. why other permanency options are not appropriate; and
    4. how service plans and identified interventions support permanency and child well-being.


  • PA-CFS 14.05

    In compliance with applicable law and regulation, legal permanency planning occurs according to the following standard timeframes:

    1. within 60 days of placement a court-determined permanency plan is developed;
    2. at least every 6 months a court or administrative review of progress towards permanency occurs;
    3. within 12 months of placement, and every 12 months thereafter, a permanency hearing evaluates the permanency goal and determines the need for an alternative goal; and
    4. after a child has been in placement for 15 of the most recent 22 months, a legally-exempted permanency decision is made or proceedings are initiated for the termination of parental rights.

    Update:

    • Revised Research Note - 10/31/17
      The research note was revised to address circumstances that preclude termination of parental rights for ICWA cases.

    Interpretation: Reviews should be scheduled at times when appropriate parties can attend. Resource parents and residential treatment providers should be notified of and are entitled to participate in any review or hearing.

    The length of time a child has been in care cannot be the only justification for terminating parental rights. In order to support parents that are actively making progress towards reunification but need more time, the agency can determine a compelling reason for not filing for the termination of parental rights. Whenever possible, the permanency timeline for parents with substance use conditions should reflect the time needed to receive substance use treatment services and make progress towards recovery.

    Note: This standard does not apply to cases in which kinship care does not involve an exchange of custody that requires legal permanency planning.

    Research Note: When sanctioned by a state or tribal court, federal law permits American Indian and Alaska Native families to move forward with a customary adoption without terminating parental rights. 

    Other circumstances that preclude termination of parental rights when the case involves an American Indian or Alaska Native child include: placement with extended family per ICWA placement preferences; transfer of jurisdiction to the tribal court; insufficient provision of “active efforts” to support reunification; and inability to satisfy the legal requirements for termination of parental rights under ICWA. 


    Research Note: The Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) outlines three legal exemptions to the termination of parental rights requirement outlined in PA-CFS 14.05, including if: 

    1. the child is being cared for by a relative; 
    2. the case record contains documentation of a compelling reason why the termination of parental rights would not be in the best interest of the child, including failure to meet federal statutory requirements such as active or reasonable efforts; and 
    3. the agency has not provided the family with services identified by the state to be necessary for the safe return of the child. 
    ASFA does not override, amend, or repeal the requirements of the Indian Child Welfare Act.


  • PA-CFS 14.06

    Case records document efforts made to support parents towards reunification, including: 

    1. involvement in assessment, service planning, and service selection;
    2. access to needed services and supports, including both formal and informal community resources; 
    3. ongoing, constructive, and progressive contact with their children; and
    4. reduction of barriers to contact and involvement in their children’s care.

    Update:

    • Revised Interpretation - 10/31/17
      The interpretation was revised to align with the active efforts requirements of ICWA.

    Interpretation: When the agency is working with American Indian or Alaska Native children and families, the Indian Child Welfare Act requires active efforts be provided to support reunification. Active efforts require affirmative, thorough, timely, and culturally responsive engagement with families to satisfy the case plan by accessing resources and services and partnering with the tribe. Early consultation with tribes is critical to ensuring that a full range of resources have been made available to the family and that active effort requirements are fulfilled.

    Agencies may work with tribal leadership, elders, religious figures, or professionals with expertise concerning the given tribe to determine culturally-responsive active efforts and identify culturally appropriate services for the family. 

    Note: The documentation must be in a format legally admissible as evidence to facilitate court proceedings.


  • PA-CFS 14.07

    To support permanency goals resource families are assisted in pursuing permanency options such as adoption or guardianship, as appropriate.

    Note: See PA-CFS 27, 28, and 29 for more information regarding adoption and guardianship.
     

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