WHO IS ACCREDITED?

Private Organization Accreditation

Stillwater-based FamilyMeans provides services in budget and credit counseling, mental health, collaborative divorce, caregiver support, youth programming, and an employee assistance program. 
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VOLUNTEER TESTIMONIAL

Harry Hunter, MSW, MBA, Ph.D.

Volunteer Roles: Peer Reviewer; Team Leader

Peer Reviewer for the month of January 2013, Dr. Hunter has been volunteering for COA since 2005, conducting five site reviews.
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Purpose

Children in Family Foster Care and Kinship Care live in safe, stable, nurturing, and typically temporary family settings that best provide the continuity of care to preserve relationships, promote well-being, and ensure permanency.

PA-FKC 5: Child Permanency

The agency participates in or 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 have enduring relationships that last a lifetime, offer the social and legal status of family membership, and support their connections with extended family, and to their cultures and communities of origin.

Table of Evidence

Self-Study Evidence On-Site Evidence On-Site Activities
    • Permanency planning procedures
    • Procedures for finding and notifying kin
No On-Site Evidence
    • Interview:
      1. Program director
      2. Relevant personnel
      3. Parents
      4. Children and youth
    • Review case records

  • FP
    PA-FKC 5.01

    In compliance with applicable law and regulation, legal permanency planning occurs with children and families 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.

    Interpretation: Permanency planning should occur with the team of people that support and provide services for the family, as appropriate.  This planning often occurs in conjunction with service planning.  Resource parents are notified and 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. 

    Interpretation: When the agency is working with Indian children and families tribal representatives and service providers must be involved in the permanency planning process to ensure compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act (in particular the placement preferences) and support culturally responsive planning. Tribal definitions of permanency and family should be recognized and incorporated into the permanency plan.

    Note: This standard does not apply to cases in which the kinship placement 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 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 PA-FKC 5.01, 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-FKC 5.02

    Permanency planning is child-driven and children are actively involved in the process as appropriate to their age and developmental level.

    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. 

    Children’s ages should not limit the consideration of all permanency options.


  • PA-FKC 5.03

    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.

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

    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-FKC 5.04

    Concurrent planning 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 permanency options, expectations, and legal timelines; 
    3. early identification and involvement of potential family resources including non-custodial parents, relatives of incarcerated parents, extended family members, family members outside of the country, and family-like supports; 
    4. early placement with a permanent family resource or pre-adoptive resource family; and 
    5. counseling parents about relinquishment and alternative permanency options if needed.

    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.


  • PA-FKC 5.05

    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.


  • PA-FKC 5.06

    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; 
    3. ongoing, constructive, and progressive contact with their children; 
    4. reduction of barriers to contact and involvement in their children’s care; and 
    5. the use of formal and informal community resources and supports to prepare families for reunification.

    Interpretation: When the agency is working with Indian children and families, the Indian Child Welfare act requires active efforts be provided to support reunification. Active efforts require full engagement with families, the provision of intensive remedial and rehabilitative services, and providing active assistance to families to ensure their access to necessary services from outside resources. Early consultation with children’s 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.

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