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.


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

PA-CFS 33: Personnel

Personnel are qualified and receive adequate support to provide culturally-responsive services that ensure the safety of children and promote the well-being of children and families. 

Interpretation: This core concept standard refers to personnel only. Resource parents are not considered personnel.

Note: When the agency is unable to fully implement one or more of the practice standards within this section, intensive efforts should be made to fully implement the other standards. For example, if the agency is unable to recruit workers with specific qualifications, it can ensure that appropriate supervision and workload standards are implemented.

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
    • Staffing chart that includes lines of supervision
    • List of program personnel that includes:
      • name;
      • title;
      • degree held and/or other credentials;
      • FTE or volunteer;
      • length of service at the agency;
      • time in current position
    • Job descriptions
    • Description of average workload per worker, including the average caseload size for the last four quarters
    • Training curricula
    • A description of: 
      1. Strategies for preventing and countering secondary traumatic stress
      2. Parent mentor program, if applicable
    • Procedures for:
      1. Assigning and evaluating workload, including criteria used
      2. Overtime compensation
      3. Case transfer
      4. Parent mentor program, as applicable, including for: 
        • Recruiting
        • Screening
        • Training
        • Supervising
    • Supervisory schedule for 24-hour coverage
    • Information and/or data describing staff turnover, from the previous year
    • Training attendance records
    • Interview:
      1. Agency leadership
      2. Supervisors
      3. Personnel
    • Review personnel files
    • Review case records as needed

  • PA-CFS 33.01

    Workers are qualified by:

    1. an advanced degree in social work or a comparable human service field; or
    2. a bachelor’s degree in social work or a comparable human service field with two years of related experience.

    Interpretation: The agency should have a specific plan for increasing the educational credentials of existing personnel and hiring relevantly credentialed personnel; however, exceptions may be made on a case-by-case basis when a worker has an unrelated bachelor’s degree but has directly relevant experience and/or competencies.

  • PA-CFS 33.02

    Supervisors are qualified by an advanced degree in social work or a comparable human service field and two years of experience working with children and families, preferably in child welfare.

    Interpretation: If Treatment Foster Care supervisors do not meet these qualifications additional regular clinical consultation must be provided at least monthly.

  • PA-CFS 33.03

    Workers have the competencies and support needed to: 

    1. build positive, engaged relationships with parents that motivate them for change, help them identify their strengths and needs, and support family success;
    2. build trusting, engaged relationships with children to be a source of support, help them identify their strengths and needs, and advocate for their wishes; 
    3. recognize and understand the impact of trauma, and work with both children and parents in a trauma-informed manner; and
    4. work with all children and families in an empowering, equitable, and culturally-responsive manner.

    Interpretation: Competency can be demonstrated through education, training, or experience. Support can be provided through supervision or other learning activities to improve understanding or skill development in specific areas.

    Research Note: Training that focuses on anti-racism and addresses individual and institutional racism has been identified as a promising strategy for reducing the disproportionality of children of color in the child welfare system by addressing implicit bias that impacts decision-making around such areas as investigation, separating children from their families, and permanency. 

    Research Note: While immigration policy and law supports family reunification whether or not parents are deported, and child welfare policy prioritizes reunification whenever possible, practice shows that when parents are detained or deported family separation often lasts for extended periods and too often juvenile dependency courts terminate parental rights because of the length of separation.  Caseworkers and all other relevant personnel should receive training on immigration law and enforcement policies in order to best advocate for the children of immigrants and immigrant families.
    Research Note: In surveys of child welfare workers, many caseworkers reported challenges with discussing issues of sexual and reproductive health and pregnancy prevention with youth in their care due to the absence of defined roles, clear policies, or training in this area. Given the prevalence of youth pregnancy in the child welfare system, a formal agency-wide policy, protocol, or training curriculum on adolescent sexuality and preventing pregnancy could empower caseworkers to more actively engage with youth on reproductive health, sexuality, and pregnancy prevention.

  • PA-CFS 33.04

    Workers have the competencies and support needed to:

    1. assess risk and safety;
    2. conduct comprehensive assessments of strengths, needs, and protective factors;
    3. identify children and families with special needs;
    4. collaborate with families to develop effective service plans;
    5. conduct well-planned, quality home visits that focus on issues pertinent to safety and service planning;
    6. collaborate with other service providers, units, and systems, including the mental health, health, educational, and judicial systems;
    7. evaluate progress on identified goals and the continued need for services;
    8. facilitate permanency, family connections, and community supports; and
    9. follow agency protocols for responding to allegations of maltreatment in resource homes or residential treatment programs.

    Interpretation: Competency can be demonstrated through education, training, or experience. Support can be provided through supervision or other learning activities to improve understanding or skill development in specific areas.

  • PA-CFS 33.05

    Workers who collaborate with resource families have the competencies and support needed to:

    1. recruit, assess, and engage with resource parents;
    2. work with resource parents in a culturally competent manner;
    3. help resource families provide a safe, nurturing environment and meet the needs of the children in their care; 
    4. provide timely and responsive support to resource families; and
    5. facilitate relationships between birth parents and resource families, when appropriate.

    Interpretation: Competency can be demonstrated through education, training, or experience. Support can be provided through supervision or other learning activities to improve understanding or skill development in specific areas.

  • PA-CFS 33.06

    Workers who support expectant and parenting youth have the competencies and support needed to:

    1. present information in a manner that will resonate with parenting youth;
    2. understand adolescent development, including adolescent brain development;
    3. understand child development, including early brain development;
    4. address the dual developmental needs of adolescents and young children;
    5. promote youths’ transition to adulthood while parenting; and
    6. facilitate father involvement when appropriate and feasible.

  • PA-CFS 33.07

    Workers who arrange adoptions have the competencies and support needed to:

    1. facilitate adoptions that meet applicable legal requirements;
    2. provide support to persons affected by adoption to cope with social and emotional issues;
    3. facilitate adoptions for children with special needs; and
    4. maintain and protect confidential information and assist persons served to access information, as outlined by applicable law.

    Interpretation: Competency can be demonstrated through education, training, or experience. Support can be provided through supervision or other learning activities to improve understanding or skill development in specific areas.

  • FP
    PA-CFS 33.08

    Workers and supervisors, depending on job responsibilities, are knowledgeable about relevant provisions of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), including: 

    1. the importance of ICWA and special considerations for working with American Indian and Alaska Native children; 
    2. the identification of American Indian and Alaska Native children; 
    3. determination of jurisdiction; 
    4. appropriate notice and collaboration with children’s tribes; 
    5. placement preferences that support children’s connections to their native culture and heritage; 
    6. active efforts requirements to prevent separation or reunify families;
    7. processes for, and alternatives to, terminating parental rights; and 
    8. court procedures.

    Interpretation: All child welfare personnel should be trained in the basic requirements of ICWA with additional specialized training for staff in specialized service units, such as intake or permanency planning. All screening personnel must be trained on how to identify children with American Indian or Alaska Native heritage.  Workers should also be informed of the cultural norms and historical trauma associated with Indian tribes. 

    Research Note: Training resources on the Indian Child Welfare Act are available from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the National Indian Child Welfare Association, and the California Social Work Education Center.  

  • PA-CFS 33.09

    Workers demonstrate a belief that parents can safely care for their children, a commitment to children’s right to be part of a family, and dedication to achieving permanency for all children.

  • PA-CFS 33.10

    Supervisory personnel are involved in all decisions related to child safety and permanency, and workers have access to a supervisor by telephone 24 hours a day. 

  • PA-CFS 33.11

    The agency prevents and counters the development of secondary traumatic stress by:

    1. educating both workers and supervisors about secondary trauma, its symptoms, and its potential effects on children, families, and the agency as a whole;
    2. helping personnel develop the skills and behaviors needed to manage and cope with work-related stressors;
    3. encouraging respectful collaboration and support among co-workers;
    4. using assessment strategies to determine when personnel have been impacted by secondary trauma;
    5. connecting personnel to the supports and services needed to address concerns; and
    6. considering how the agency’s culture and policies may contribute to or prevent the development of secondary traumatic stress.

    Interpretation: Regarding element (b), personnel should be helped to develop the skills and behaviors that will enable them to engage in positive thinking; increase their self-awareness; know their limits and needs; establish healthy boundaries; monitor and regulate their emotions and behaviors; identify and manage emotional triggers; and take time for self-care.  Regarding element (f), it may make sense to consider the agency’s culture and policies in areas including, but not limited to, supervision, caseload assignment, scheduling, and crisis response.

    Research Note: Given that child welfare workers routinely work with traumatized individuals, agencies should acknowledge and accept responsibility for addressing the risks and ramifications of secondary trauma.  In addition to diminishing a worker’s quality of life, secondary trauma can also negatively impact both the agency and its clients by compromising workers’ ability to serve clients effectively and by increasing turnover, which in turn can lead to both negative repercussions for clients and economic costs for the agency.

  • PA-CFS 33.12

    Employee workloads support the achievement of positive outcomes for families, are regularly reviewed, and are based on an assessment of the following: 

    1. the qualifications, competencies, and experiences of the worker including the level of supervision needed; 
    2. the work and time required to accomplish assigned tasks and meet practice requirements, including those associated with individual caseloads and other organizational responsibilities; 
    3. service elements provided by other team members or collaborating providers; and 
    4. service volume, accounting for the complexity and status of each case.

    Interpretation: Case complexity can take into account: intensity of child and family needs, size of the family, and the goal of the case.  Generally, caseloads should not exceed:

    • 12 active investigations at a time, including no more than 8 new investigations per month;
    • 15-17 families receiving ongoing in-home services;
    • 12-15 children in out-of-home care, and their families;
    • 8 children in treatment foster care, and their families; and
    • 12-25 families when arranging adoptions or guardianships.
    When workers manage a blend of case types, caseloads should be weighted and adjusted accordingly.  For example, a worker conducting 4 active investigations would not simultaneously be responsible for more than 10-11 families receiving ongoing in-home services, and a worker for both children in out-of-home care and intact families would have no more than 15 total families with no more than 10 children in out-of-home care.
    Caseloads may be higher when agencies are faced with temporary staff vacancies.  New personnel should not carry independent caseloads prior to the completion of training.

    Note: The evaluation of this standard will focus on whether the assigned workload is manageable for personnel, taking into account the factors cited in the standard and interpretation. Each agency should determine what caseload size is appropriate, and reviewers will evaluate: (1) whether the agency’s designated caseload size reflects a manageable workload, and (2) whether the agency maintains caseloads of the size it deems appropriate.

    Research Note: Child welfare research shows that manageable workloads enable workers to conduct home visits where they can build positive relationships, which are necessary for achieving outcomes. Staff retention literature indicates that high caseloads and time-consuming paperwork are primary factors in child welfare workforce turnover. Research and literature also suggest that high turnover rates impact timeliness of reunification and resource parent retention. 
    Research Note: Research on special needs adoptions suggests that high caseloads can make it difficult to recruit prospective adoptive families, and can delay the processing of resource family assessments and background checks. Additionally, high caseloads may lead to infrequent contact by adoption workers, which can cause some prospective adoptive parents to seek services from other organizations or agencies.

  • PA-CFS 33.13

    The agency takes steps to minimize the number of times a case is transferred from one worker to another.

    Interpretation: In addition to addressing factors that may contribute to turnover by enforcing reasonable caseloads and providing appropriate training, supervision, and support, the agency should also examine any policies or procedures that require families to be passed from one specialty worker to another as they move through the system, and consider whether families would be better served by fewer transfers.

    Note: See PA-CFS 2.03 for expectations regarding information sharing when cases are transferred.

  • PA-CFS 33.14

    When parents who have successfully exited the child welfare system provide support to birth parents with open cases, the agency:

    1. clearly defines the role and responsibilities of the parent mentors;
    2. establishes guidelines for recruitment of prospective mentors, including how much time must elapse before a former client is eligible to participate;
    3. carefully screens prospective mentors to ensure they are a good fit for the program;
    4. trains mentors to work in a professional setting and fulfill the roles they are expected to perform; and
    5. provides ongoing support and supervision to ensure that mentors have the skills they need and address any issues that arise.

    Interpretation: Parent mentors are typically expected to provide social and emotional support, facilitate family engagement in services, help families better understand and navigate the child welfare system, connect families to needed resources, and help families advocate appropriately for themselves. 

    Research Note: While caseworkers are also expected to provide the type of support offered by parent mentors, parents who have similar backgrounds and firsthand experience with the child welfare system may be better positioned to empathize and build trusting relationships with family members. In addition to potentially benefiting families currently involved with the system, research suggests that programs such as these may also help the parent mentors by enabling them to build their job skills and resumes and increase their self-confidence and sense of self-efficacy.  However, literature also emphasizes the importance of ensuring that mentors are appropriately screened, trained, and supervised, noting that some may lack appropriate skills or be motivated by their own agendas. For example, while social support may be most effective when offered by someone with a similar background, some mentors may be motivated to downplay their similarities with families in order to boost their own identities and meet their own needs.  Similarly, while a mentor’s own experience may help the mentor empathize and connect with parents currently involved in the system, it will not necessarily provide the mentor with the skills or understanding needed to guide families through the process and help them access services.

    NA The agency does not use parent mentors to provide services.

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