WHO IS ACCREDITED?

Private Organization Accreditation

Debt Education and Certification Foundation (DECAF), a private non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, provides high-quality financial education and counseling, with nationwide outreach throughout the U.S. DECAF is HUD-approved, and recognized as one of the 100 Best Companies to Work for in Texas.
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ORGANIZATION TESTIMONIAL

Catholic Charities, Diocese of Covington

Wm. R. (Bill) Jones, ACSW, MDiv, Chief Executive Officer

Catholic Charities in Covington has been COA accredited since 1996. Though the time spent in completing the self study and hosting the site visit can sometimes feel sometimes daunting, the rewards far outweigh the effort. In our agency, the self-study is a group process that involves every member of the staff from the CEO to the building maintenance staff.
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Purpose

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 6: Child and Youth Permanency

The agency participates in or facilitates permanency planning with residents and their families and/or legal guardians 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, non-custodial parents, and others identified by the child such as teachers, clergy, mentors, and to their cultures and communities of origin.

When the agency is not responsible for facilitating permanency planning, it documents all participation in the process and any efforts to connect children to positive relationships with significant adults. 

In addition, agencies demonstrate their role in supporting timely permanency planning through regular case record documentation and official reports provided to the local child welfare agency or the court which comment on children’s and/or families’ progress towards permanency goal(s).

Note: Throughout this section of standards (PA-GLS 6), the term “children” includes infants, toddlers, school-age children, and youth.

NA The agency does not provide out-of-home care for children in the custody of a public agency.

Rating Indicators
1
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. 
2
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.  
3
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.
4
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
    • Permanency planning procedures
    • Policies for finding and notifying kin
No On-Site Evidence
    • Interview:
      1. Program director
      2. Relevant personnel
      3. Residents
    • Review case records

  • PA-GLS 6.01

    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 work with the public authority to determine a compelling reason for not filing for the termination of parental rights. The mental health status and readiness of the child should also be taken into consideration when assessing permanency goal.  

    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.

    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, 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.

    NA The agency only provides services to children in which there is no dependency/family court involvement. 


  • PA-GLS 6.02

    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 youth 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-GLS 6.03

    The agency collaborates with children, parents, and the local child welfare agency to identify, notify, and engage relatives, non-custodial parents, and other close, supportive adults that can be resources or supports for placement and permanency. 

    Interpretation: The agency is expected to be diligent and purposeful in identifying and engaging supportive resources. As appropriate to their role, 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-GLS 6.04

    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 permanency options if needed.

    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. 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-GLS 6.05

    Case records document efforts made to support parents towards reunification, including:
    1. involvement in service planning, decision-making  and service selection;
    2. access to needed services; 
    3. ongoing, constructive, and progressive contact and time spent with the child;
    4. reduction of barriers to contact, time together, and involvement in the child’s care; and
    5. use of formal and informal resources, supports, and community services to prepare the family for reunification and aid in the transition process.

    Interpretation: Documentation must be in a format legally admissible as evidence to facilitate court proceedings.
     
    Interpretation: When the agency is working with American Indian and Alaska Native children and families, the Indian Child Welfare Act requires active efforts be provided to support reunification. Active efforts require affirmative, thorough, timely, and culturally responsive to satisfy the case plan by accessing resources and services and partnering with the tribe. Early consultation with 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.

    Agencies may work with tribal leadership, elders, religious figures, or professionals with expertise concerning the given tribe to determine culturally-responsive active efforts and identify culturally appropriate services for the family. 

    NA The agency does not provide services to parents. 

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