Private Organization Accreditation

Debt Education and Certification Foundation (DECAF), a private non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, provides high-quality financial education and counseling, with nationwide outreach throughout the U.S. DECAF is HUD-approved, and recognized as one of the 100 Best Companies to Work for in Texas.


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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Outreach Services identify and engage youth, adults, and families experiencing homelessness as a first step to accepting care for immediate health and safety needs, gaining access to community services and resources, taking steps toward community integration, and connecting to safe and stable housing. 

PA-OS 4: Service Provision

Outreach services link individuals and families with needed services and housing.

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
    • A description of services
    • Provide description of team composition and roles for outreach teams
    • Provide safety guidelines for street outreach personnel
    • Written protocols and documentation of authority (PA-OS 4.05)
    • Procedures and data for evaluating referral resources
    • Interview:
      1. Program director
      2. Relevant personnel

  • PA-OS 4.01

    Outreach services are flexible and respond to the unique needs of youth, adults, and families experiencing homelessness.

  • FP
    PA-OS 4.02

    Outreach services provide, either directly or through referral, an array of services that meet basic needs and help integrate the person or family into the community.

    Interpretation: Services may include:

    1. basic needs, including food, clothing, shelter, hygiene, and laundry;
    2. crisis intervention;
    3. medical/dental evaluation and care;
    4. behavioral health care;
    5. housing assistance;
    6. substance use education and treatment;
    7. legal assistance;
    8. help obtaining documentation, for example birth certificate, photo identification, and/or social security card;
    9. help with mainstream benefit enrollment and renewal applications;
    10. case management;
    11. social support services; and
    12. health information, including information about harm reduction, STDs, HIV/AIDS, pregnancy prevention.
    Interpretation: To improve access to services, whenever possible, outreach staff should personally introduce service recipients to health, mental health, social service, and mainstream benefit providers to establish relationships.

    Interpretation: Individuals recovering from an illness or injury should be connected with medical respite care services, if available. Such programs provide a safe environment for individuals experiencing homelessness whose medical conditions do not warrant continued hospitalization, but where staying on the street or in a shelter would make recovery more difficult or impossible.

  • PA-OS 4.03

    A team of professionals or paraprofessionals provides outreach services.

    Research Note: Outreach teams that include peer specialists can be helpful in locating, engaging, and assessing individuals experiencing homelessness. 

  • FP
    PA-OS 4.04

    The agency develops safety guidelines for street outreach personnel and, when necessary due to safety concerns, deploys at least a two-person team.

    NA The agency does not provide street outreach.

  • FP
    PA-OS 4.05

    When the outreach team has the authority to transport a person involuntarily to an emergency facility, the agency follows a written protocol that protects the safety, dignity, and legal rights of the service recipient.

    NA The agency does not have the required authority.

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