Private Organization Accreditation

Heartland for Children is the not-for-profit agency responsible for the foster care system in Polk, Highlands, and Hardee Counties.


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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Juvenile Justice Residential Services promote public safety by providing youth with a supportive, structured setting that helps them address their needs and develop the attitudes and skills needed to make responsible choices, avoid negative behaviors, and become productive, connected, and law-abiding citizens.

PA-JJR 15: Secure Residential Services

The agency maintains a safe environment for youth in secure residential programs.

Note: Definitions of a secure juvenile justice residential program vary by state and organization, and may include programs that lock youth in their rooms or programs that use perimeter security, such as a fence. All programs defined as secure are expected to complete JJR 15.01, though some secure programs may be exempt from JJR 15.02 and JJR 15.03 if the program does not lock youth in rooms.

NA The agency does not provide secure juvenile justice residential services.

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 ensuring safety when youth are locked in their rooms
    • When youth are locked in their rooms for routine purposes, provide a description of why this is necessary and how the agency maintains a positive service culture
No On-Site Evidence
    • Interview:
      1. Program director
      2. Relevant personnel
      3. Youth served
    • Review case records
    • Observe site

  • PA-JJR 15.01

    The agency ensures the placement of youth in the secure residential facility is necessary according to their risks and needs, and advocates for a less restrictive placement when appropriate.

  • FP
    PA-JJR 15.02

    Agencies that lock youth in their rooms for routine purposes:

    1. utilize this practice to maintain safety, order, and security, rather than for purposes of discipline, compliance, or convenience;
    2. ensure that using this practice does not detract from the agency’s ability to create a culture that promotes respect, healing, and positive behavior; and
    3. do not lock youth in their rooms for excessively long time periods.

    Interpretation: As referenced in the Note to PA-BSM, some agencies may lock youth in their rooms for routine purposes to maintain safety, security, and order. Although this practice does restrict freedom of movement, it differs from the types of restrictive interventions addressed in PA-BSM insofar as it is utilized on a routine, ongoing basis, rather than in response to a specific incident. It may be appropriate to lock youth in their rooms during sleep, or for other defined, short periods of time; however, because the practice is restrictive in nature, youth should not be locked in their rooms for excessively long periods, and should spend most of their waking hours engaged in meaningful and developmentally-appropriate activities, as referenced in PA-JJR 13.03.

    NA The agency does not lock youth in their rooms for routine purposes, for example, during sleep periods.

  • FP
    PA-JJR 15.03

    To ensure youth safety in both emergency and non-emergency situations, agencies that lock youth in their rooms for routine purposes:

    1. monitor youth while they are locked in their rooms;
    2. ensure that rooms are free from safety risks and hazards;
    3. provide access to food, water, and bathroom facilities, as needed;
    4. establish safety protocols and procedures that include plans for the immediate release of youth from locked areas in case of emergency; and
    5. train personnel and youth on emergency evacuation procedures.

    Interpretation: Youth should be monitored at least every 15 minutes. If the agency uses a video camera to monitor youth, it should demonstrate that personnel are able to respond immediately if necessary. When youth are at risk for suicide or self-harm, monitoring should be face-to-face and continual.

    Interpretation: As referenced in PA-ASE 3, the agency should conform to all applicable safety codes, including fire codes.

    NA The agency does not lock youth in their rooms for routine purposes, for example, during sleep periods.

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