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.


Children's Foundation of Mid America

James W. Thurman, President/CEO

Children’s Foundation of Mid America has been accredited through COA since 1983. The process of accreditation ensures that we meet or exceed the highest standards in the industry.
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Guardianship Services for Minors support the establishment of a court-appointed, long-term, living arrangement with a committed caregiver that ensures safety and increases stability and child well-being.

PA-GSM 3: Child and Youth Permanency

When reunification with birth parents has been ruled out, the agency and the family explore all permanency options to determine if guardianship is the best permanency option for the child, birth parent, and prospective guardian.

Interpretation:Consideration of all permanency options can be demonstrated through the development of a mediated agreement signed by all parties invested in the child’s future. Child welfare mediation is conducted with a neutral third-party to improve communication, maximize family participation in decision making, and expedite permanency. Another way to demonstrate consideration of permanency options is through the use of permanency charts that compare and contrast permanency options according to their legal and financial distinctions, and the roles and responsibilities of caregiver and parent.

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 exploring permanency options with the family
No On-Site Evidence
    • Interview:
      1. Program director
      2. Relevant personnel
      3. Service recipients
    • Review case records

  • PA-GSM 3.01

    The agency clearly explains the differences between adoption, guardianship, and long-term foster care to the birth parent; the prospective guardian; and the child, as appropriate to their age, cultural needs, and developmental level, including:

    1. the legal implications of each option;
    2. available support services; and
    3. financial assistance.

    Research Note: The literature suggests that misunderstanding the legal and financial differences between guardianship and adoption contributes to confusion about which option is in the best interests of the child, and in some cases, poor permanency decision making.

  • PA-GSM 3.02

    The child is encouraged to discuss his or her interest in and understanding of guardianship, as appropriate to his or her age, cultural needs, and developmental level.

    Interpretation: Children must consent to the guardianship placement consistent with state and tribal regulations.

  • PA-GSM 3.03

    The agency takes into account, whenever feasible and appropriate, birth parents’ expressed desires regarding the child’s placement, and when this consideration can delay placement, the agency:

    1. acts in accordance with applicable law, including the Indian Child Welfare Act as appropriate;
    2. tries to resolve the conflict in the best interest of an expeditious and permanent placement; and
    3. promptly seeks legal counsel regarding resolution of such differences.

    Interpretation: Child welfare mediation with a neutral third-party can be used to resolve conflict among involved parties and expedite permanency.

    Interpretation:In cases where the birth parent may be unable to participate in the process, such as incarceration or illness, the agency works with the individual to write down their expressed desires regarding the child’s placement for consideration by the court.

    Research Note: The Indian Child Welfare Act requires that preference be given to placements in the following order: (1) a member of the child’s extended family; (2) other members of the child’s tribe; and (3) other Indian families. As evidence of compliance with these placement preferences, a record of each placement must be maintained by the state in which the placement was made. These records are made available upon request of the United States Secretary of Interior or the Indi

  • PA-GSM 3.04

    The permanency decision is based on what is in the best interests of the child and reasons for the decision are documented in the case record.

    Interpretation: If guardianship is found to be an inappropriate permanency option for the child, the agency works with the family to determine a more viable permanency option. Other viable permanency options can include adoption or guardianship with another caregiver. Continued stays in foster care should only be considered if no other permanency options are available.

    Interpretation: The agency documents why the goal is in the best interest of the child and why other permanency options were not appropriate in the case record. If siblings are not placed together, the agency documents the reason in the case record.

    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.

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