Private Organization Accreditation

Heartland for Children is the not-for-profit agency responsible for the foster care system in Polk, Highlands, and Hardee Counties.


Nuevo Amanecer Latino Children's Services

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

Since Nuevo Amanecer Latino Children’s Services pursued its COA accreditation on October 14, 2004, this corporation has sustained a continuous quality improvement process by not looking whom to blame among the involved parties but improving what we have already done well… because good enough is not good enough.
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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.

PA-CFS 24: Resource Family Assessment and Approval

The resource family assessment process ensures that prospective resource families are willing and able to meet the needs of children and their families. 

Interpretation: Resource family assessments should be conducted in accordance with all applicable federal and state requirements.

Note: Appropriate training and ongoing support, as covered in PA-CFS 15, 25, 26, and 29, are also essential to ensuring that resource families can meet the needs of children and their families.

Research Note: The Safe and Timely Interstate Placement of Foster Children Act of 2006 (H.R. 5403) requires that full faith and credit be given to any homestudy completed by another state or Indian tribe with respect to the placement of a child unless it is determined that placing the child on the basis of the contents of the report would be contrary to the child’s well-being.

Research Note: Tribes and local Indian organizations may be able to provide valuable support in assessing and approving resource families for American Indian and Alaska Native children.  

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
    • Procedures for: 
      1. Resource family assessment
      2. Reference and background, child abuse/neglect, and sex offender registry checks
    • Resource family assessment tool and/or included criteria
No On-Site Evidence
    • Interview:
      1. Agency leadership
      2. Relevant personnel
      3. Resource parents
    • Review resource parent records 

  • FP
    PA-CFS 24.01

    The resource family assessment is a standardized, collaborative process that is conducted in a culturally-responsive manner and:

    1. engages families as active partners in deciding whether they wish to become resource parents;
    2. includes one or more visits to prospective resource families’ homes; and
    3. involves individual consultation with all adults and children living in the home.

    Interpretation: The worker should meet with each household member separately to ensure each person feels comfortable to share freely.

    Research Note: Research on family foster care has demonstrated the efficacy of using a standardized questionnaire or inventory as a tool to assist agencies and prospective resource parents in assessing strengths and areas for development in the primary domains linked to fostering successfully.

  • FP
    PA-CFS 24.02

    The resource family assessment process includes:

    1. reference checks; and
    2. criminal background, child abuse and neglect, and sex offender registry checks for all adults living in the home according to applicable federal and state requirements. 

    Interpretation: The agency should develop criteria for the review of criminal background checks that specifies if, and when, checks are conducted on a multi-state or national basis, and how the agency evaluates and responds to reports indicating criminal offenses. Prospective resource families should be informed at the beginning of the process about the agency’s policy regarding criminal convictions. Agencies may have more flexibility to make exceptions around certain non-violent criminal or civil background histories for kin who are otherwise determined to be appropriate caregivers. Each situation should be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

  • PA-CFS 24.03

    Workers collaborate with prospective resource families to explore factors that may impact their willingness and ability to provide effective care and offer experiences that enhance healthy development, including:  

    1. motivation and expectations for providing resource family care;
    2. family roles, relationships, and functioning;
    3. parenting skills, experiences, and beliefs, including reflections on how the resource parents’ upbringing may inform their work with children in care, as well as how they may need to modify their approach to parenting in order to meet the needs of children in care;
    4. strategies for managing challenges, coping with conflict or adversity, and keeping commitments, including reflections on the extent to which the family has worked through adversity and how it has impacted them;
    5. willingness and ability to provide responsive, nurturing care for children whose characteristics and needs match those of the children in care;
    6. willingness to collaborate with birth parents and support children’s ties to culture, family, peers, and community, as appropriate;
    7. willingness and ability to work as a member of a team to support and facilitate permanency for children in care; and
    8. the potential impact of having a new child join their family, including the potential impact on any other children in the family.

  • PA-CFS 24.04

    The resource family assessment considers concrete factors and resources that may impact the ability of resource parents to meet children’s needs, including:

    1. mental and physical health;
    2. social support networks; and
    3. education, employment, and financial status.

    Note: See PA-CFS 24.11 below for more information regarding assessments of resource parents’ physical and mental health.

  • FP
    PA-CFS 24.05

    Prospective resource families’ homes are assessed for potential concerns related to safety, health, and space, including:

    1. inadequate or unsafe heat, light, water, refrigeration, cooking, and toilet facilities; 
    2. malfunctioning smoke detectors; 
    3. unsanitary conditions; 
    4. lack of phone service; 
    5. unsafe doors, steps, and windows, or missing window guards where necessary; 
    6. exposed wiring; 
    7. access to hazardous substances, materials, or equipment; 
    8. rodent or insect infestation; 
    9. walls and ceilings with holes or lead; and
    10. insufficient space.

  • FP
    PA-CFS 24.06

    The agency ensures that resource parents who will transport children in their own vehicles: 

    1. use age-appropriate passenger restraint systems; 
    2. provide adequate passenger supervision, as required by statute or regulation; 
    3. properly maintain vehicles and obtain required registration and inspection; 
    4. provide the agency with annual validation of their driving records; and 
    5. provide the agency with regular validation of their licenses and appropriate insurance coverage.

    Interpretation: Regarding element (e), this information should be provided as frequently as necessary, based on the amount of time licenses and insurance are valid. For example, if licenses are valid for two years, license validation can occur every two years. Regarding validation of appropriate insurance coverage, it is suggested that the agency maintain a copy of each resource parent’s auto policy declaration. The agency is responsible for determining what level of insurance coverage is considered appropriate.

    Note: This standard is not applicable to unlicensed kinship caregivers. 

  • PA-CFS 24.07

    When the prospective resource family is known to the child, an assessment is conducted to evaluate:

    1. the relationship between the prospective resource family and the child;
    2. the child’s relationship to individuals already living in the home; and
    3. the prospective resource family’s commitment to the child.

  • PA-CFS 24.08

    During the assessment process kinship caregivers have the opportunity to:

    1. discuss their families’ stories and the experiences that brought them to caring for or planning to care for a kin child;
    2. discuss their concerns with becoming licensed resource parents; and
    3. learn how the program collaborates with kinship caregivers and supports relationships between kinship families, parents, and extended families.

  • PA-CFS 24.09

    Based on the information obtained during the assessment of a prospective resource family, the agency prepares a report:

    1. with a recommendation that indicates whether the prospective resource family has the ability, willingness, and resources to meet the needs of children in care; and
    2. within timeframes established by the agency, and prior to a child joining the resource family.

    Interpretation: The worker can consider additional information offered by a prospective resource family after reviewing the assessment.

    Interpretation: Children may be placed with kin on an emergent basis, including the same day as separation from their homes, in order to facilitate family connections and minimize disruptions. Consistent with the Adam Walsh Act, criminal and CPS background checks and same day preliminary safety assessments are required prior to placement. Issues that may be revealed on these checks do not necessarily preclude placement of children in relatives’ homes but should be one component of an overall assessment of relatives’ capacity and appropriateness to care for children.

  • FP
    PA-CFS 24.10

    Resource family assessments are updated: 

    1. within two weeks of a reported change in the home composition; and 
    2. at least once annually.

    Interpretation: Changes that warrant a follow-up assessment include but are not limited to: individuals who move in or out of the home; death or debilitating illness of a caregiver; structural defects in the home related to fire, flood, or natural disaster; or legal proceedings affecting the resource family such as eviction or divorce. The annual assessment update can occur in conjunction with the annual resource parent evaluation, as addressed in PA-CFS 26.05.

  • FP
    PA-CFS 24.11

    To ensure resource families can provide safe and consistent care, all adult caregivers in the home receive health assessments prior to placement, or within 45 days after the first placement, and again when licenses are renewed. 

    Interpretation: Please note that health assessments should always be completed prior to adoption.

    Interpretation: Special circumstances, including the health needs of the resource parent, warrant more frequent assessment. The agency should consult with the local public health authority to determine if a skin tuberculin test should be included in the assessment. A written statement from a physician or other qualified health professional regarding the person’s health is acceptable to meet the intent of the standard. If the assessment indicates a mental health concern, the individual must also obtain a formal evaluation from a mental health professional.

    Note: This standard is not applicable for unlicensed kinship caregivers.

  • FP
    PA-CFS 24.12

    All resource family homes are licensed, approved, or certified according to state, tribal, or local regulation.

    Interpretation: When children are placed with kin on an emergent basis, the local child welfare agency may allow eligible kin a period of time to work towards certification or licensing as a resource family home. However, criminal and child abuse background checks and preliminary safety assessments should still be conducted prior to placement, as noted in PA-CFS 24.09. When the local child welfare agency is not assuming custody of a child, the kinship caregiver’s home may be approved as a temporary placement option while the family works towards stabilization.

    Research Note: Federal legislation allows the state or county child welfare authority to waive non-safety licensing standards for kinship caregivers on a case-by-case basis. This legislation encourages agencies to be flexible in working with kinship caregivers in order to keep children with their families and to recognize that some non-safety standards that are appropriate for non-related resource parents may not be relevant to placements with kin. In addition to certain non-safety waivers, agencies may be able to grant exceptions on a time-limited basis to allow kin time to meet a requirement, especially when they are already caring for a child. 

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