Private Organization Accreditation

Money Management International is a nationwide nonprofit organization that provides counseling and education related to credit, housing and bankruptcy, and offers debt management assistance if needed. MMI also conducts community education programs in the areas where we have a physical presence.


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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Individuals and families that use Housing Stabilization and Community Living Services obtain and maintain stable housing in the community and strengthen personal support systems in order to live as independently as possible.

PA-HSCL 11: Personnel

Skilled personnel provide services that help individuals live in the community and, when appropriate, make a successful transition to self-sufficiency and independent living.

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
    • Program staffing chart that includes lines of supervision
    • List of program personnel that includes:
      1. name;
      2. title;
      3. degree held and/or other credentials;
      4. FTE or volunteer;
      5. length of service at the agency;
      6. time in current position
    • Table of contents of training curricula
    • Procedures and criteria used for assigning and evaluating workloads
    • Training curricula
    • Documentation of training
    • Job descriptions
    • Procedures for responding to a crisis or traumatic event
    • Interview:
      1. Supervisors
      2. Personnel
    • Review personnel files

  • PA-HSCL 11.01

    Personnel are qualified by training, skill, and experience, and are able to recognize individuals and families with special needs.

    Interpretation: Personnel that provide homelessness prevention and rapid-rehousing services are qualified by training on the core principles of the program model, which include: Housing First, rapid re-housing, harm reduction, crisis response, case work, and case coordination. 

  • PA-HSCL 11.02

    Direct service personnel demonstrate experience or receive training and education on the following topics::

    1. understanding homelessness;
    2. stigma and labeling;
    3. conflict resolution;
    4. trauma-informed care;
    5. harm reduction;
    6. engagement with service recipients, including establishing trust and professional boundaries;
    7. recognizing and responding to signs of suicide risk;
    8. crisis intervention; and
    9. first aid and CPR.

    Interpretation: Regarding element (a), training curricula should address, at a minimum, the causes and effects of homelessness, overrepresented and vulnerable populations, impact of homelessness on child development, barriers to exiting homelessness, and service needs. Each topic covered needs to consider the unique characteristics of different subpopulations.

  • FP
    PA-HSCL 11.03

    Personnel receive training and supervision on the special service needs of service recipients, including, as appropriate:

    1. individuals coping with substance abuse and/or mental health issues, including dual diagnosis;
    2. individuals coping with trauma, including how to recognize trauma and appropriate interventions for addressing the acute needs of trauma victims;
    3. individuals with HIV/AIDS;
    4. Individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or gender non-conforming;
    5. individuals and families who have been victims of violence, abuse, or neglect;
    6. individuals who may be the victims of human trafficking or sexual exploitation, including how to identify potential victims;
    7. individuals and families experiencing or at risk of homelessness;
    8. pregnant and parenting mothers and/or fathers with young children;
    9. persons with current or past criminal justice system involvement; and
    10. persons with current or past child welfare system involvement. 

  • PA-HSCL 11.04

    Personnel providing case management services possess:

    1. a bachelor’s degree in social work or a comparable human service field, or at least fives years’ direct experience in human services; and
    2. skills in case management and case coordination, and ability to work with people in groups.

  • PA-HSCL 11.05

    Case managers receive training on the following topics:

    1. basic counseling skills;
    2. conducting housing searches;
    3. landlord engagement;
    4. establishing a consumer-case manager relationship;
    5. issues related to individuals and families involved with multiple systems;
    6. case advocacy;
    7. conducting home visits, including indentifying and responding to potential lease issues, as appropriate;
    8. helping individuals live in the community or transition to independent living; and
    9. the agency’s plans for managing medical or psychiatric emergencies.

  • PA-HSCL 11.06

    Case managers demonstrate competency in: 
    1. housing resources and community programs and how to access services; 
    2. mainstream benefits programs, including eligibility requirements; 
    3. basic landlord-tenant rights and responsibilities, as appropriate; and
    4. tenancy skills and/or supports.

    Interpretation: Competency can be demonstrated through education, training, or experience. 

  • PA-HSCL 11.07

    Supervisors of direct service personnel are qualified by:

    1. an advanced degree in social work or a comparable human service field and at least two years direct experience in service delivery; or
    2. a bachelor’s degree in social work or a comparable human service field and four years direct experience in service delivery.

    NA The agency only provides homelessness prevention and rapid re-housing services.  

  • PA-HSCL 11.08

    Supervisors demonstrate a commitment to providing structure and support to direct service personnel to:

    1. address and reduce stress, anxiety, secondary traumatic stress, and vicarious trauma; 
    2. process and debrief following a crisis or traumatic event;
    3. create an atmosphere of problem-solving and learning;
    4. build and maintain morale;
    5. provide constructive ways to approach difficult situations with service recipients; and 
    6. facilitate regular feedback, growth opportunities, and a structure for ongoing communication and collaboration.

    Interpretation: Supervision is an important determinant of service recipient outcomes, agency culture, and staff retention.

    Interpretation: In order to promote workforce well-being, agencies should implement policies that address and help prevent stress-related problems. Strategies to reduce the adverse effects of secondary traumatic stress and vicarious trauma include: helping staff identify and manage the difficulties associated with their respective positions; promoting self-care and well-being through policies and communications with personnel; offering positive coping skills and stress management training; and providing adequate supervision and staff coverage. 

    Interpretation: Before a crisis or traumatic event occurs, the agency’s leadership should establish a coordinated plan detailing its agency-wide response strategy (see also PA-ASE 7), in accordance with all applicable confidentiality laws and regulations. For example, response plans in the event of a suicide can include: procedures for managing information about the death, coordination of internal or external resources, supports for those affected by the death, commemoration of the deceased, and follow-up with anyone at elevated risk for suicide.
    Interpretation: The suicide attempt or death of a service recipient can be a traumatic experience for staff and appropriate supports and avenues for grief are often not provided. Staff may feel responsible for the individual’s death, professionally inadequate, and ashamed. Individuals exposed to suicide can also be at elevated risk for suicide. To help staff process the loss of a service recipient to suicide, voluntary non-judgmental support services should be provided to help the affected staff and other personnel grieve and prepare for future contact with individuals at risk for suicide.

    Research Note: Secondary traumatic stress (STS)—distress that results from being exposed to the traumatic stories of others, and vicarious trauma (VT)—internal changes in the perception of self due to chronic exposure to traumatic material, have a significant impact on direct care workers and supervisors. STS has been linked to increased absenteeism among employees, high staff turnover, and decreased compliance with organizational requirements. The impact of VT can impede organizational function and negatively influence an individual’s sense of trust, safety, control, and esteem.

  • PA-HSCL 11.09

    When clinical services are provided on-site, experienced personnel with an advanced degree in social work, psychology, counseling, psychiatry, psychiatric nursing, or other human services, provide:

    1. case supervision or case consultation;
    2. overall guidance to the program; and
    3. training of direct-service and supervisory personnel.

    NA Program personnel do not provide clinical services.

  • PA-HSCL 11.10

    Caseloads are adjusted according to the individuals’ needs, service goals, timelines, or the service model used, but generally do not exceed:

    1. 15-18 cases for each direct service provider responsible for counseling services;
    2. an appropriate mix of the above.

    Interpretation: For homelessness prevention and rapid re-housing programs, caseloads depend on the characteristics of the program’s target population, the housing crises that are precipitating a request for services, and the duration of assistance.

  • PA-HSCL 11.11

    Caseloads are regularly reviewed, and are based on an assessment of the following:

    1. the qualifications, competencies, and experience of the worker, including the level of supervision needed;
    2. the work and time required to accomplish assigned tasks and job responsibilities; and
    3. service volume, accounting for assessed level of needs of new and current clients and referrals.
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