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.


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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Network services are delivered to a defined population through an integrated network of providers with the goal of ensuring optimal access, quality of care, and consumer satisfaction.

PA-NET 7: Utilization Management

The network conducts utilization management to ensure that its services are appropriate, represent the best value for the purchaser and consumer of service, and meet the needs and preferences of service recipients.

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 administration and management 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
    • A description of the scope of utilization management activities (For example, does utilization management include authorization that is external to the provider? Is it limited to establishing criteria, reporting utilization data, and retrospective reviews?)
    • Utilization management procedures, including:
      1. Criteria for placement decisions
      2. Processes of approving the criteria and making the criteria available to those applying the criteria
      3. Authorizing services
      4. Appeals, and notifications of appeals when requests are denied
    • Utilization management reports
    • Records of authorization decisions, including the application of the criteria to the decision
    • Records of utilization management reviews at provider locations
    • Evidence of the source of UM criteria
    • Interview:
      1. Care managers
      2. Clinical directors at provider agencies
      3. Independent practitioners
      4. Direct service providers
    • Review:
      1. Personnel files of UM personnel

  • PA-NET 7.01

    The utilization management process is continuous and includes the use of common criteria across the network for admission, service provided, length of service, level of care, and discharge decisions.

  • PA-NET 7.02

    Utilization management criteria are available upon request to network service providers, and the network identifies the source or sources of the criteria.

    Interpretation: Networks manage utilization in several ways; however, in all cases, networks need criteria that help guide service delivery decisions.

    Utilization management criteria should be applied to help inform clinical judgments – not to substitute for clinical judgments – and to protect the interests of both service recipients and purchasers. This does not mean that all decisions must conform to criteria to be considered appropriate. For example, the preferences of individual clients are also an important factor in the decision-making process, and in the case of clients whose services are voluntary, the preference of a client for lower intensity care than that indicated by the criteria may result in an appropriate placement decision that is at variance with the criteria. The criteria may protect recipients from being placed in services that are more restricted than needed and being denied access to services that meet the recipient’s need for more intensive or lengthy services. Also, the criteria may protect the purchaser from paying for services that are more expensive than needed.

    Sources for utilization criteria commonly include expert panels or bodies, and documented evidence. In many cases the purchaser will provide criteria. If the network develops its own criteria, it should rely on persons with the credentials and experience to provide the direct services to develop the criteria. The network may use nationally recognized criteria, such as the addictions-treatment placement criteria developed by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), it may develop its own criteria according to nationally recognized practice guidelines, or it may use criteria identified by the purchaser. In any case, the network needs a formal process of approving the criteria it uses and making the criteria available to those applying the criteria, including direct service providers.

  • PA-NET 7.03

    Utilization management personnel are qualified as follows:

    1. personnel conducting utilization reviews have appropriate experience and training;
    2. supervisors of service authorization personnel have appropriate experience and possess relevant credentials;
    3. medical necessity decisions are made by licensed and qualified clinicians; and
    4. appeals are reviewed by persons who are licensed or credentialed to provide the service under review.

  • PA-NET 7.04

    Networks that provide centralized service authorization include a designated care manager or centralized care management unit to ensure that service planning is continuous, comprehensive, and integrated.

    NA The network does not provide authorization for services.

  • PA-NET 7.05

    Utilization management includes, as appropriate to the services being provided, a regular review of data related to:

    1. appropriateness of admissions and authorization decisions, if authorizations are part of network services;
    2. intake and referral processes;
    3. service planning and service delivery milestones; and
    4. intake and discharge data including length of service per event, number of encounters per event, and number of re-admissions, as applicable to the service being provided.

    Interpretation:Networks manage utilization in several ways; however, in all cases, networks need criteria that help guide service delivery decisions.

  • PA-NET 7.06

    The network management entity conducts:

    1. a quarterly review of its authorization and placement decisions for all network services that includes a ten percent sample of open and closed cases, including a representative sample of high-risk cases; and
    2. at least annually a review of ten percent of contractor case records.

  • PA-NET 7.07

    Managing entities that conduct preauthorization and reauthorization for services:

    1. respond to requests for authorization, initial screening, or reauthorization according to standards for timeliness that are in proportion to the urgency of the request;
    2. provide a 24-hour response line when responsible for authorization of crisis, emergency, or urgent care; and
    3. record the reason for placement decisions and relate this decision to criteria.

    Interpretation: When network managing entities provide these initial or continuing authorizations, these more intensive utilization management activities are usually provided as a core network service. See the interpretation for PA-NET 4.02 for a discussion of criteria.

    NA The network does not provide pre- or continuing authorization for services.

  • PA-NET 7.08

    If authorization for services is denied the network management entity:

    1. informs the person or service provider requesting the authorization of the reason for the denial;
    2. relates the reason for the denial to the criteria used for making authorization decisions; and
    3. informs the client or service provider of the right to appeal the denial of authorization and the timeframes for the appeal.

    Interpretation: As used in PA-NET 7.08, the term “appeal” refers to a request for a review and reconsideration of the denial. It does not imply any suggestion of wrongdoing or failure to follow criteria or procedures. This is in contrast to a grievance, which means that the person filing the grievance believes that their rights have been violated or that procedures have not been followed. Appeals can be made by the service recipient or his/her service provider.

  • PA-NET 7.09

    Timeframes for appeals of denials of service authorizations:

    1. ensure that appeals are reviewed and the results communicated in time for the service recipient to enter or continue services without interruption; and
    2. vary according to the urgency of the issue.
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