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.


Family Services of the North Shore

Kathleen Whyte, Manager of Human Resources / Accreditation Coordinator

Family Services of the North Shore is about to enter our third accreditation cycle with COA. Accreditation has provided us with a framework that enables us to demonstrate accountability to our clients, our funders and our donors. There is no question that the accreditation process and COA have benefited our agency.
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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 4: Screening

Reports of child maltreatment are screened and evaluated in a prompt and consistent manner.

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
    • A description of the access line and how it is publicized
    • Procedures for:
      1. Screening
      2. Identification of children with American Indian/Alaska Native heritage
      3. Collaboration with tribes on ICWA cases
    • Tools/criteria for decision-making 
    • Coverage schedule for personnel that screen reports, for previous quarter
    • ICWA information provided to families
    • Copies of tribal-state agreements, when applicable
    • Interview:
      1. Agency leadership
      2. Relevant personnel
    • Review case records

  • FP
    PA-CFS 4.01

    The agency maintains a well-publicized, 24-hour access line to receive reports of suspected abuse and neglect. 

    Interpretation: The agency must keep the community informed about how to report suspected abuse and neglect, as noted in PA-CFS 2.01, including in jurisdictions where police have the initial responsibility to respond to reports. When multiple access numbers are used the agency should provide a clear description of the appropriate means of reporting. 

  • FP
    PA-CFS 4.02

    When a report of suspected abuse or neglect is received, the agency obtains:

    1. information needed to identify and locate the child and family;
    2. an account of the alleged maltreatment;
    3. a description of the child, including condition, behavior, and functioning;
    4. a description of the alleged perpetrator, including condition, behavior, functioning, and history;
    5. a description of the family as a whole, including family members, dynamics, functioning, and supports; and
    6. information regarding any other safety concerns or hazards.

    Interpretation: The description of the alleged perpetrator and the family should include attention to both general parenting skills and disciplinary practices, as well as any presence or history of domestic violence.

  • PA-CFS 4.03

    Reporters of abuse and neglect are informed about:

    1. the agency’s responsibilities, including protection of reporters’ identities;
    2. the process for screening and investigation;
    3. whether reporters can have any ongoing role in the screening or investigation process; and
    4. the result of the screening or investigation, unless prohibited by law or court order.

    Interpretation: Procedures for informing reporters about the result of the screening or investigation may vary. For example, while some jurisdictions may require active follow-up with reporters, others may expect reporters to call back to the hotline if they wish to find out about the results of the process.

  • FP
    PA-CFS 4.04

    Within 24 hours of receiving a report, standardized decision-making criteria and supervisory/clinical consultation are used to determine if a report meets the state’s statutory definition of child maltreatment, and if it will be:

    1. accepted for agency response;
    2. screened out; and/or
    3. reported to other authorities.

    Interpretation: The agency should ensure it has appropriate staffing to meet these timeframes. 

    Interpretation: States should examine existing statutory definitions of child abuse, neglect, and/or abandonment to identify if and how unregulated custody transfer fits within established definitions, and ensure that staff understand how to apply those protocols to cases of unregulated custody transfer, as appropriate.

    Note: Some agencies may establish differential response systems whereby they employ two different pathways for responding to reports of child abuse and neglect based on the severity of the allegation – a traditional “investigation” track for more serious maltreatment allegations, or an alternative “assessment” track for lower-risk cases.

  • FP
    PA-CFS 4.05

    When reports are accepted for CPS response, standardized decision-making criteria are used to establish how quickly the agency should respond to the referral, based on the family’s situation and the nature of the alleged maltreatment.

    Interpretation: As with PA-CFS 4.04, supervisory personnel should be involved in the determination of response time.

    Note: See PA-CFS 5.01 for more information regarding timeframes for agency response.

  • FP
    PA-CFS 4.06

    The agency identifies American Indian and Alaska Native children during screening and has a process to ensure outreach and collaboration with the tribe or Indian agency to: 

    1. determine jurisdiction; 
    2. ensure compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act; 
    3. provide families with information regarding their rights under the Indian Child Welfare Act; 
    4. participate in assessment and service planning to determine the most appropriate plans for children and families; and 
    5. maintain connections between children, their extended family, and their tribes.

    Interpretation: The agency should have established procedures for identifying American Indian and Alaska Native children to determine if the child or his/her biological parent(s) are members of a federally recognized tribe, or if the child is eligible for membership in a federally recognized tribe. Physical appearance, blood quantum, and perceived presence or absence of cultural cues within the family are not appropriate determinants of ICWA applicability. The agency should document efforts to identify and contact children’s tribes and if tribes are unknown the agency should contact the regional office of the Bureau of Indian Affairs to identify, locate, and notify the child’s tribe. Notification procedures must meet the requirements specified in the Indian Child Welfare Act and the Indian Child Protection and Family Violence Prevention Act.

    Research Note: Early identification of American Indian and Alaska Native children is critical to ensuring that the requirements of ICWA are followed from the beginning of the case and preventing harmful placement delays or disruptions later in the proceedings. To facilitate accurate determinations of tribal membership, agencies should provide tribes with: parents’ genograms or family ancestry charts; parents’ maiden, married, and other known former names or aliases; parents’ current and former addresses; and parents’ places of birth and birthdates.

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