Private Organization Accreditation

HeartShare assist individuals with developmental disabilities through education, day, residential and recreation programs, case management, and health services, and provides foster care/adoption services, counseling, after school and energy assistance programs, and programs for people with HIV/AIDS.


Advantage Credit Counseling Service

Mary Loftus, VP, Agency Service

Our agency is preparing for reaccreditation under the Eighth Edition Standards. The COA site is well organized and very easy to use. Our team of employees working on the reaccreditation process has found the tools index to be very helpful, particularly some of the templates.
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Individuals who receive Services for Mental Health and/or Substance Use Disorders improve social, emotional, psychological, cognitive, and family functioning, and attain recovery and wellness.

PA-MHSU 2: Screening and Intake

The agency’s screening and intake practices ensure that service recipients receive prompt and responsive access to appropriate services. 

Table of Evidence

Self-Study Evidence On-Site Evidence On-Site Activities
    • Screening and intake procedures 
    • List of community-based providers/referral sources
    • Interview:
      1. Clinical or program director
      2. Relevant personnel
      3. Individuals or families served
    • Review case records

  • PA-MHSU 2.01

    Service recipients are screened at intake and informed about:

    1. how well their request matches the agency’s services; 
    2. what services will be available and when; and
    3. rules and expectations of the program. 

    Interpretation: Screenings will vary based on the program’s target population and services offered and may include information to identify any of the following: trauma history, substance use disorders, mental illness, developmental delays, suicide and self-harm history and current level of risk, and/or risk of harm to others.

    Interpretation: For agencies providing services for substance use disorders, rules and expectations of the program should include any consequences that can result from the verified use of alcohol, drugs, or other substances while participating in the program.

    Interpretation: For residential detoxification treatment programs, rules and expectations could include: 

    1. personal items service recipients may bring with them; and
    2. items that are discouraged or prohibited. 

    Research Note: Employing technology-based interventions can minimize geographic barriers and increase the availability of necessary services, particularly for individuals and families living in rural or underserved areas. 

    NA Another agency is responsible for screening, as defined in a contract.

  • FP
    PA-MHSU 2.02

    Prompt, responsive intake practices:

    1. ensure equitable treatment;
    2. give priority to urgent needs and emergency situations;
    3. facilitate the identification of individuals and families with co-occurring conditions and multiple needs;
    4. enable access to a comprehensive assessment process;
    5. support timely initiation of services; and
    6. provide for placement on a waiting list, if desired.

    Interpretation: Screening and intake procedures should direct staff on how to identify and respond to individuals or families experiencing emergency situations to ensure that they receive expedited treatment planning and are connected to more intensive services. For example, individuals discharged from emergency rooms or psychiatric inpatient facilities after a suicide attempt remain a high-risk group post discharge. To reduce the risk of suicide re-attempt, these individuals should be contacted within 24 hours, receive access to services within three to seven calendar days, and active outreach should be initiated in cases of a missed appointment until contact is made. Agencies should have the capacity to refer individuals in crisis to the appropriate services, which may include 24-hour mobile crisis teams, emergency crisis intervention services, crisis stabilization, or 24-hour crisis hotlines.

    Urgent situations can also include those in which an individual has a child in the child welfare system.

    Interpretation: Wait times are a major barrier to individuals and families receiving services. Agencies can monitor waitlists and standardize their referral process to improve accessibility. 

    Research Note: Literature indicates that schools are the primary setting for the identification of children and youth with mental health conditions. Symptoms usually begin in early childhood; however, some disorders may develop and present in later adolescence.  Agencies that serve children and youth should collaborate with school-based and primary health care settings to identify those with mental health needs and facilitate access to services as early as possible. Early intervention can prevent significant mental health issues from developing and reduce risk behaviors, such as suicide or self-harm, substance use, and involvement with the juvenile justice system.

  • PA-MHSU 2.03

    Service recipients who cannot be served, or cannot be served promptly, are referred or connected to appropriate resources.

    NA The agency accepts all service recipients.

  • PA-MHSU 2.04

    During intake, the agency gathers information to identify critical service needs and/or determine when a more intensive service is necessary, including:

    1. personal and identifying information;
    2. emergency health needs; and
    3. safety concerns, including imminent danger or risk of future harm.

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