Private Organization Accreditation

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


Anita Paukovits

Volunteer Roles: Peer Reviewer

Being a COA peer reviewer has clearly played a role in my professional development and has made me a better administrator at my own agency as a result!  To be part of a professional network that is on the cutting edge of program, practice, fiscal responsibility, and insuring Best Practice across the field is an amazing opportunity.
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Child Protective Services protect children from abuse and neglect and increase child well-being and family stability.

PA-CPS 12: Child and Youth Permanency

The agency participates in or facilitates permanency planning with families to promote stability and permanency.

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 permanency planning
No On-Site Evidence
    • Interview:
      1. Program director
      2. Supervisors
      3. Relevant personnel
    • Review case records

  • PA-CPS 12.01

    Service providers, foster parents, the public authority, and the court work with the child, youth, and family to develop a permanency plan within 60 days of placement, which specifies:

    1. the permanency goal(s);
    2. a timeframe for achieving permanency; and
    3. activities that support permanency.

    Interpretation: Intensive efforts should be made to locate family members who can be involved in permanency planning and who may wish to (re)establish positive relationships with the child. Tribal representatives and service providers should be involved in the permanency planning process when the Indian Child Welfare Act applies.

    Interpretation: The age of a youth should not limit the consideration of all permanency options. Tribal definitions of permanency should be recognized and incorporated into the permanency plan.

    Interpretation: The timeframe for achieving permanency is consistent with state and federal regulations, and in most cases the permanency hearing should take place within 12 months. Whenever possible, the permanency timeline for parents with substance use conditions reflects the time needed to receive substance use treatment services and make progress towards recovery.

    Research Note: Tribal definitions of permanency can vary by tribe but generally focus on the concept of belonging through the identification and enhancement of the child’s support networks including their extended family, clan, and tribe. Thus, permanency is the result of continuity and a sustained sense of belonging.

  • PA-CPS 12.02

    Concurrent planning is undertaken when appropriate and includes:

    1. early assessment of the potential for reunification;
    2. full disclosure of options, expectations, and timelines;
    3. early identification of potential family resources;
    4. early placement with a permanent family resource; and
    5. counseling parents about relinquishment and permanency options when reunification seems unlikely.

    Interpretation: Federal and state statutes or administrative rules may provide guidance about when concurrent planning is appropriate and how concurrent planning is to be conducted.

    Interpretation: As appropriate, the child’s extended family and other community members should be considered when identifying potential family resources.

  • PA-CPS 12.03

    The child, parents, caregivers, foster parents, and relevant professionals participate in a court or administrative case review at least every six months to assess:

    1. the safety and appropriateness of continued placement;
    2. constructive parent, child, and sibling visitation;
    3. efforts to reunify the family and progress toward permanency;
    4. possible placement resources and best options; and
    5. appropriateness of services.

    Interpretation: Federal and state statutes or administrative rules may provide guidance about when and how administrative reviews are to be conducted. The review is scheduled at times when appropriate parties can attend.

    Interpretation: When the case involves an Indian child, a representative from the tribe or a local Indian agency should receive timely notification of court or administrative case review, be given an opportunity to participate, and be informed of any changes made to the permanency plan.

  • PA-CPS 12.04

    Youth are actively involved in permanency planning, and receive information about progress toward permanency as appropriate to their age, cultural needs, and developmental level.

  • PA-CPS 12.05

    The case record documents opportunities provided to parents in support of reunification, including:

    1. involvement in service planning and access to needed services;
    2. constructive visitation and on-going contact with the child;
    3. reduction of barriers to contact, visitation, and involvement in the child’s care; and
    4. use of formal and informal resources to prepare the family for reunification.

    Interpretation: Resources can include support from extended family members or the tribal community when one has been identified.

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

  • PA-CPS 12.06

    The agency recommends or files a petition to terminate parental rights for children who have been in care for 15 of the most recent 22 months, unless case-specific information legally exempts a child.

    Interpretation: The reason submitted for termination of parental rights cannot be the length of time a child has been in care. When the decision is made not to return the child home, the justification and alternative permanency goal are entered into the case record.

    Interpretation: When the case involves an Indian child, the agency should collaborate with the tribe to ensure compliance with Indian Child Welfare Act requirements governing the termination of parental rights.

    Research Note: Federal law permits Indian families to move forward with a customary adoption, without terminating parental rights. Customary adoptions are arranged through custom and tradition and allow for the transfer of custody while preserving parental rights.

    Research Note: The Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) outlines three legal exemptions to the termination of parental rights requirement outlined in CPS 12.06, 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 hasn’t 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-CPS 12.07

    The agency is diligent in identifying and notifying all adult relatives of a child’s separation from her or his family within 30 days of placement.

    Interpretation: Agencies should have established procedures for identification of kin that involves a combination of engaging children and family members in identification and the use of technological resources for family-finding. Notification should be provided in multiple forms, including written form in order to ensure accountability and maintain a record of efforts to notify.

    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-CPS 12.08

    To support permanency goals kinship caregivers are informed about, and assisted in, pursuing permanency options such as adoption or guardianship, as appropriate.

    Interpretation: Customary adoption should be considered as a permanency option for Indian children.

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