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.


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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Group Living Services allow individuals who need additional support to regain, maintain, and improve life skills and functioning in a safe, stable, community-based living arrangement.

PA-GLS 14: Residential Facilities

Residential facilities contribute to a physically and psychologically safe, healthy, non-institutional, homelike environment.

Interpretation: “Homelike” settings are assessed within the context of agencies location and environment.

Note: Please see Facility Observation Checklist - Private, Public, Canadian for additional assistance with this standard.

Research Note: Physical environments convey symbolic and concrete messages. The way in which agencies maintain, design, and decorate their residential facilities can greatly impact residents’ perception of safety and security. For example, facilities that are warm and inviting, and incorporate age, developmentally, and culturally appropriate decor into the aesthetic impart a sense of belonging to residents.

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 establishing a homelike environment 
    • Procedures for maintaining a clean and safe environment
No On-Site Evidence
    • Interview:
      1. Program director
      2. Relevant personnel
      3. Residents
    • Observe facility and outdoor area/grounds

  • PA-GLS 14.01

    Living quarters are age, developmentally, gender, and culturally appropriate and consist of separate cottages or units in a residential building that include:
    1. a common room, dining and/or kitchen area, and space for indoor recreation;
    2. private areas where residents can meet with family and friends;
    3. private facilities for bathing, toileting, and personal hygiene; and
    4. ready access to a telephone and other technology, as permitted, for use by residents and personnel.

    Interpretation: Programs must have gender-specific sleeping areas and facilities for bathing, toileting, and personal hygiene to ensure a residents’ privacy from residents of the opposite gender.

    Programs serving children should have facilities that are developmentally appropriate and culturally responsive, including separate bathrooms and shower areas, and outdoor and indoor play spaces with adequate toys, books, and other recreational supplies. 

    Interpretation: The agency is responsible for developing policies or procedures addressing the use of cellphones and types of technology in the program. See evidence at PA-GLS 12.

    Research Note: Literature emphasizes the importance of creating a sensitive and nonjudgmental service environment for LGBTQ individuals. Agencies can create and maintain a safe environment by posting a nondiscrimination policy that explicitly includes sexual orientation and gender identity, and by allowing transgender residents to use bathrooms and showers based on their gender self-identity and gender role.

  • PA-GLS 14.02

    Personal accommodations for residents are age, developmentally, gender, and culturally appropriate and include:
    1. adequately and attractively furnished rooms with a separate bed for each resident, including a clean, comfortable, covered mattress, pillow, sufficient linens, and blankets; 
    2. a non-stacking crib for each infant and toddler that is 24 months or younger that meets federal safety regulations; and
    3. a safe place such as a locker to keep personal belongings and valuables.

    Interpretation: Bedroom space should, at a minimum, meet state requirements and accommodate the basic furnishings the standard mentions. National advocacy standards suggest that single rooms have at least 100 square feet of floor space and rooms housing more than one individual have at least 80 square feet per person. Group assignments and room accommodations may be adjusted as appropriate to the service provided, therapeutic considerations, level of risk, or developmental appropriateness.

    Interpretation: All cribs, including portable cribs that can be folded or collapsed without being disassembled, must meet current Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) full-size and non-full size crib standards per Sections 1219 and 1220 of Title 16 of the Code of Federal Regulations to ensure safety for children. 

    The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that cribs are used by children under 90 centimeters (35 inches) tall.

    Note: Element (b) will not apply to agencies that do not allow residents to bring their children to the treatment program.

  • PA-GLS 14.03

    Agencies that serve families house families as a unit and keep sibling or family groups together, when possible.

    Interpretation: The agency may use direct care workers or counselors to provide supervision to residents. Care ratios may exceed the standard if the group is transitional or stable and long-term. Personnel must be awake at all times unless convincing evidence demonstrates the resident group does not need awake supervision during sleeping hours. Examples of reasons certain homes or programs might not have awake personnel are: care for a long-term, stable population; majority of unit residents are ready to move to a less restrictive setting; low runaway rates; and low rates of night-time incidents. Electronic supervision is not an acceptable alternative to supervision by personnel.

    NA The program does not serve family units, or housing families as a unit is not possible or prohibited by law.

  • PA-GLS 14.04

    Residents participate actively in:
    1. decorating and personalizing their sleeping area; 
    2. choosing clothing preferences; 
    3. food preparation and meal planning; and
    4. contributing to decisions about how to make living areas inviting, comfortable, and reflective of the their interests and diversity.

  • PA-GLS 14.05

    Residential facilities provide:
    1. adequate space for storage and maintenance needs;
    2. sufficient and culturally appropriate supplies and equipment to meet residents’ needs;
    3. access to a computer and the internet;
    4. rooms for providing on-site services, as applicable;
    5. accommodations for informal gathering of residents including during inclement weather;
    6. at least one room suitably furnished for the use of on-duty personnel; and
    7. private sleeping accommodations for personnel who sleep at the facility, if applicable.

  • PA-GLS 14.06

    The agency has adequate facilities for administrative support functions, food preparation, housekeeping, laundry, maintenance, and storage.

  • PA-GLS 14.07

    The residential facility and outdoor space should be clean and maintained in good condition to promote the health and safety of personnel and residents.

    Interpretation: The facility’s outdoor area should be inviting and contain sufficient space for recreational activities. Outdoor equipment must meet all playground equipment safety standards and be appropriate for the number, age, and developmental level of residents.

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