Private Organization Accreditation

CSS Healthcare Services provides Community based health services to the young, the elderly and to Individuals with Developmental Disability. Founded in 1997, we have the ability to offer a variety of quality community-based services to our clients, which has greatly contributed to our growth and success.


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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Children and youth who participate in Out-of-School Time programs gain the personal, social, emotional, and educational assets needed to support healthy development, increase well-being, and facilitate a successful transition through childhood and adolescence, and into adulthood.

PA-OST 21: Personnel Training and Support

Personnel receive the training and support they need to develop professionally and provide quality programming. 

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
    • Table of contents for orientation curriculum
    • Table of contents for training curriculum
    • Procedures for conducting personnel observations (PA-OST 21.03)
    • Tool/rubric for personnel observations
    • Outline of required training for different positions or job categories (i.e. number of hours required)
    • A description of how the agency utilizes, orients/trains, supports, supervises, and recognizes volunteers
    • Staffing chart that illustrates lines of supervision of volunteers
    • Orientation curriculum
    • Training curriculum
    • Annual training calendar or schedule
    • Records of personnel observations (e.g., in personnel records)
    • Documentation of participation in training and professional development activities (e.g., documentation from training files or personnel records)
    • Criteria used for assigning and evaluating workloads
    • Documentation of:
      1. wages;
      2. benefits;
      3. paid time to plan/set up activities;
      4. paid time to participate in training/professional development
      5. opportunities for advancement
    • Orientation/training materials for volunteers
    • Volunteer files/records
    • Interview:
      1. Program Administrator and/or Director
      2. Program Personnel
      3. Volunteers
    • Observe staff interactions

  • PA-OST 21.01

    Before working with children and youth, new personnel are given an orientation that includes an overview of:

    1. the program’s goals, practices, and schedule;
    2. their job descriptions, including their responsibilities to children and youth, families, and the program;
    3. program policies and procedures, including policies and procedures related to health and safety, emergencies, and confidentiality;
    4. personnel policies and procedures, including expectations regarding work hours and schedules, breaks, and planning time; and
    5. the roles of different program personnel.

    Interpretation: Although the format of orientation may vary, it should include a review of the information described in the standard. Personnel should also receive a tour of the program space, be introduced to their co-workers and any other relevant staff (e.g., custodian), and have an opportunity to raise any questions they have.

  • PA-OST 21.02

    Personnel who work with children and youth are trained in:

    1. child and youth development, including what matters most at different stages of development;
    2. building caring, supportive relationships with children and youth;
    3. techniques for instructing and engaging children and youth;
    4. effective group management;
    5. strategies for promoting social and emotional development;
    6. strategies for engaging children and youth with different temperaments, needs, and abilities;
    7. expectations for collaboration with community partners (e.g., with the program host or collaborating service providers);
    8. expectations for professional conduct; and
    9. topics relevant to program activities, including safety and injury prevention related to the activities offered.

    Interpretation: COA recognizes that training on some of the topics addressed in this standard may not be provided until after personnel have begun work.  However, it is also important to note that personnel should never be expected to perform a task or provide a level of care that they are not yet prepared to handle.  Accordingly, depending on the degree of responsibility personnel are expected to assume upon starting their jobs, it may be appropriate to provide pre-service training on some of the listed topics. 

    Note: Please note that additional expectations regarding the qualifications and competencies of staff providing specific types of activities are included in PA-OST 10 through 15. See PA-PDS 2, PA-BSM 3, and PA-ASE 7 for additional agency-wide expectations regarding staff training.

  • PA-OST 21.03

    In an effort to support and develop personnel, supervisors or other coaches:

    1. conduct regular, scheduled observations of personnel using a formalized tool that reflects established program practices;
    2. ensure that personnel are oriented to the expectations of the tool, prior to observation;
    3. provide opportunities for personnel to conduct self-assessments using the tool; and
    4. partner with personnel following observation to discuss strengths and needs and establish short- and long-term goals for development and improvement.

    Interpretation: When supervisors or other coaches partner with personnel following observations to discuss strengths, needs, and goals, meetings should include opportunities for personnel to reflect on their own performance. 
    This type of observation and coaching will often be provided within the context of the supervisory relationships addressed in PA-PDS 4.  However, it can also be provided by outside consultants or trainers, as well as by other frontline staff at the agency.  The amount of observation conducted should take into account the type of programming offered.  For example, a program that offers academic instruction may need a higher amount of observation than a program that is solely enrichment-focused.  

  • PA-OST 21.04

    Professional development includes at least:

    1. 15 hours of training per year for Assistant Group Leaders;
    2. 18 hours of training per year for Group Leaders;
    3. 21 hours of training per year for Senior Group Leaders;
    4. 24 hours of training per year for Site Directors; and
    5. 30 hours of training per year for Program Administrators.

    Interpretation: Training may be delivered using a variety of methods based on available resources and identified training needs.  Examples of training delivery methods include, but are not limited to: in-service training, adult education courses, higher education or college courses, distance learning, conference workshops, webinars, and self-paced electronic trainings.
    When a program operates only during the summer months, COA recognizes that personnel may participate in fewer hours of professional development.

  • PA-OST 21.05

    Training and professional development activities are designed to:

    1. help personnel improve their skills;
    2. describe the practices and skills being addressed, and explain why they are important;
    3. model the practices and skills being targeted; and
    4. allow personnel to practice skills and receive feedback in a safe environment that does not punish mistakes.

    Interpretation: This standard is intended to address both program-wide trainings and the more individually-focused supports, resources, and opportunities designed to help personnel meet their individual goals for development and improvement.

    Note: Personnel should also receive ongoing support designed to help them integrate new skills and knowledge into their daily routines. This type of ongoing support might be provided within the context of the coaching/supervisory relationships addressed in PA-OST 21.03 and PA-PDS 4.

  • PA-OST 21.06

    Personnel have opportunities to participate in collaborative learning activities that include:

    1. group meetings for joint problem-solving and mutual support;
    2. information sharing on topics such as child and youth development or parent-child relationships; and
    3. opportunities for personnel to plan together.

  • PA-OST 21.07

    Personnel demonstrate that they work well together by:

    1. communicating with each other while the program is in session to ensure that the program flows smoothly;
    2. meeting outside of program time to plan activities and discuss issues or problems that arise;
    3. cooperating with each other;
    4. being respectful of each other; and
    5. modeling positive adult relationships.

    Interpretation: There are a number of ways for personnel to show that they work well together.  For example, personnel should share work fairly and be flexible about their roles, pitching in to help one another as needed.  Similarly, personnel can help to ensure that the program flows smoothly by checking in with one another, communicating about their needs in a way that promotes cooperation, responding supportively to non-verbal cues, saving complicated discussions for times when children, youth, and families are not present, and keeping conversations about personal matters brief.  Personnel should also take care to ensure that respect is shown to all, even in tense situations.  For example, when problems occur personnel should discuss their differences and try to devise fair solutions, being mindful of their tone and demeanor. 

    Note: As noted in PA-OST 21.09, it is also important that personnel be compensated for the time they devote to planning.

  • PA-OST 21.08

    Employee workloads support the achievement of positive outcomes for children and youth, are regularly reviewed, and are based on an assessment of the following:

    1. the qualifications, competencies, and experience of personnel, including the level of supervision needed; and
    2. the work and time required to accomplish assigned tasks and job responsibilities.

  • PA-OST 21.09

    In an effort to promote quality programming and compensate personnel for their time and energy, the agency provides:

    1. the best wages it can afford;
    2. benefits, including health insurance and paid leave, for personnel who work full-time;
    3. paid time to plan, organize, and set up program activities and events; and
    4. paid time to participate in trainings and other professional development activities, including outside trainings and conferences when possible.

    Interpretation: Agencies may take different steps to ensure implementation of this standard.  For example, an agency might pay all personnel above the minimum hourly wage, take education and experience into account when determining compensation, and offer opportunities for higher pay and/or advancement based on performance and/or length of service. Agencies might also strive to offer benefits that extend beyond health insurance and paid leaves of absence (e.g., dental insurance, life insurance, disability insurance, retirement benefits, subsidized child care), or provide non-monetary benefits such as flex time, when possible. Conducting additional fundraising efforts and supplementing paid staff with volunteers (including AmeriCorps/VISTA volunteers who receive stipends from other sources) can help agencies make progress toward ensuring they have the funds needed to compensate personnel appropriately. 

    Interpretation:  Regarding element (c), the amount of paid time provided should balance the agency’s financial considerations with the amount of time needed to plan quality programming and activities.  More time should be provided if personnel are responsible for developing their own curricula.  Regarding element (d), an agency might compensate personnel for the time they spend in training activities by arranging for substitutes and paid time off so that personnel can participate in trainings during the work day, or by paying personnel for the time they spend in training outside of program hours. Agencies can also support professional development by offering tuition reimbursement. 

    Research Note: The turnover rate in this field is high, and some research suggests that this is at least in part due to low wages.  Accordingly, increases in wages and access to benefits might help to stabilize the workforce, advance the profession, and promote program quality.  Studies have shown that youth who attend out-of-school time programs with little staff turnover report higher levels of adult support and more opportunities, which the research correlates to the achievement of positive outcomes for youth.  Conversely, high levels of staff turnover can interfere with the development of relationships between youth and adults.  
    Although many programs have limited resources and thus may feel ill-equipped to make improvements in this area, some literature suggests that there are still steps that can be taken to address the problem.  For example, if a program establishes a formal pay structure, and communicates its compensation policies, staff may be less likely to think they are being treated unfairly.  Additional reasons for turnover include: (1) competition in the job market; (2) personality clashes among staff; and (3) hiring young staff who have recently graduated from college who do not stay in the position very long.

  • PA-OST 21.10

    The agency:

    1. provides volunteers with the orientation, training, and support they need to fulfill their roles and responsibilities;
    2. maintains essential information about volunteers, including identifying information and emergency contact information; and
    3. recognizes volunteers for their service.

    Interpretation:  As referenced in PA-HR and PA-PDS, volunteers who have a regular, ongoing role at the program will be covered by the same standards as “personnel.” Please see the Interpretations at the beginning of those sections for more information.  All other volunteers, including casual volunteers, will be covered by this standard.

    Interpretation:  Regarding element (a), the agency should consider the nature of volunteers’ responsibilities, along with their qualifications, when determining what level of orientation, training, and support will be adequate.

    Note:  See PA-OST 15 for additional expectations regarding volunteer mentors.

    NA The agency does not use volunteers to provide OST services, or all OST volunteers meet the standards for personnel. 

  • FP
    PA-OST 21.11

    The agency ensures that volunteers are adequately supervised by personnel at all times.

    Interpretation:  As referenced in PA-HR and PA-PDS, volunteers who have a regular, ongoing role at the program will be covered by the same standards as “personnel.” Please see the Interpretations at the beginning of those sections for more information.  All other volunteers, including casual volunteers, will be covered by this standard.

    Interpretation:  The agency should consider the nature of volunteers’ responsibilities, along with their qualifications, when determining what level of supervision will be adequate.  Volunteers should not be left alone with children and youth unless they have undergone background checks as per PA-OST 20.06. 

    NA The agency does not use volunteers to provide OST services, or all OST volunteers meet the standards for personnel. 

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