Private Organization Accreditation

Catholic Charities alleviates human suffering and improves the quality of life of 100,000 people annually, regardless of religious background. A staff of 600 provides support and services related to housing, food, mental health, children's services, addiction treatment, and domestic violence services.


Barry Gourley

Volunteer Roles: Endorser; Peer Reviewer

It is an honor to be a COA volunteer. I’ve had a great opportunity to work with fabulous COA volunteers, I’ve grown professionally in the COA accreditation process and I’ve met some wonderful people across this nation who are working hard to help and support children and families.
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Residential Treatment Services provide individualized therapeutic interventions and a range of services, including education for residents to increase productive and pro-social behavior, improve functioning and well-being, and return to a stable living arrangement in the community.

PA-RTX 3: Family Involvement

The agency works with the resident and his or her family to determine and maintain an optimal level of family involvement in all treatment activities.

Interpretation: Each resident defines “family” differently, whether it be blood relatives, legal guardians, foster families, adoptive families, extended family members, significant others, peer groups or other family-like relationships. Agencies should work with the resident to understand their definition of “family” in order for residents to develop and sustain permanent, lifelong connections.

Interpretation: In cases where the resident is a victim of human trafficking, it is important to be aware that the resident’s parent or caregiver may be the trafficker or complicit in the trafficking. In such cases, determining appropriate family supports and level of involvement should include the input of the resident. 

Interpretation: Level of family involvement will vary given the age and expressed wishes of the resident and as permitted by law. Program model and structure can also impact family involvement. For example, programs that provide crisis stabilization are short term and primarily focused on stabilizing the individual; therefore, the organization may have limited opportunities to engage family members in the treatment process. Furthermore, it may not be appropriate to engage family members due to the resident’s mental and emotional state.

Note: Please refer to the Note at the service definition for how COA defines “family” throughout this service section. 

Research Note: Innovative programs are also taking steps to establish family advisory councils to involve family members in the hiring and training of staff, training family members to lead treatment team meetings, and supporting their involvement as advocates and mentors within the program in order to thoroughly engage families in the treatment process.

Table of Evidence

Self-Study Evidence On-Site Evidence On-Site Activities
    • Procedure for facilitating family involvement
    • Documentation of family involvement
    • Interview:
      1. Program director
      2. Relevant personnel
      3. Residents and their families
    • Review case records

  • PA-RTX 3.01

    The agency helps every resident to:
    1. express the nature of family connection desired;
    2. develop problem-solving skills and resolve conflicts in family relationships;
    3. identify family strengths that help members meet challenges;
    4. cope with family separation and grieve the loss of family;
    5. maintain relationships with family members through time spent at home and shared activities;
    6. participate in family and neighborhood activities; and
    7. prepare for return to the family, if appropriate.

    Interpretation: Unless contraindicated by court-order, residents have the opportunity to spend time with their family at home and receive visits from family and friends. The agency will not permit withholding of family contact, restrictions on, or cancellation of planned time home for disciplinary reasons. For adults, and some young adults, every attempt should be made to include family members such as a spouses, siblings, children, parents, and/or significant others identified by the resident. In cases where the adult resident does not want family involvement the resident receives help to identify friendship/peer support opportunities based on common interests, and for young adults efforts are made to help them connect with a non-custodial parent and/or other extended family members.

    Interpretation: Every attempt should be made to prevent residents from being in a program that is a long distance from their home and community. Residents should be located close to their families and home communities so they can retain natural connections (including extended family, neighbors, mentors, etc.) and continue to participate in community programs. As such, agencies should attempt to accept individuals who live nearby to allow frequent in-person contact with families.  All efforts to avoid loss of connection with family and friends should be made via web-based or electronic communication. 

    Interpretation: The agency should work with the resident to identify individuals with whom they wish to maintain a relationship, especially when trafficking is suspected. Traffickers may pose as a significant other, older relative, or communicate through another individual and utilize visitation to continue the exploitation of the victim. 

    Note: Some standards elements may not be applicable for crisis stabilization and short-term diagnostic programs due to length of stay and program design. 

    Research Note: Residential treatment programs should have open door policies, allowing families to spend time and/or communicate with residents to the greatest extent possible. Innovative programs are promoting family member involvement by having staff members work with residents and families in their homes and communities on a regular basis.

  • PA-RTX 3.02

    Engagement activities support the development and maintenance of a therapeutic partnership with family members that, when possible, precedes, continues throughout, and follows the resident’s stay.

    Interpretation: Family engagement activities should occur as often as possible unless the child and family team has determined that there are compelling reasons to limit contact. 

    Research Note: Research suggests that contact and involvement with family is positively associated with treatment outcomes.

  • FP
    PA-RTX 3.03

    The agency supports active family participation:
    1. at admission;
    2. in assessments;
    3. in service planning and decision-making;
    4. during the treatment process and discharge planning, including preparation for return to family and community; and
    5. in family counseling and services, unless involvement is contraindicated.

    Interpretation: Examples of ways to engage families and encourage their participation in treatment activities can include asking family members directly about their needs and having family advocates available to offer assistance.

  • PA-RTX 3.04

    When services cannot be provided close to a resident’s home, the agency facilitates maintenance of family ties, and involvement of the family in service planning and delivery, by:
    1. assisting the family with travel arrangements; 
    2. coordinating or facilitating family services to be delivered in the community; and/or
    3. employing methods for telecommunication through web-based or electronic systems.

    Interpretation: The agency must support family involvement and provide alternative services through cooperating community-based service providers. Transportation costs should be paid to facilitate residents spending time at home on a regular basis, when possible. Documented exceptions can be made in situations that meet special needs and when family involvement is contraindicated. 

  • PA-RTX 3.05

    Family members receive information and support to help them understand the needs of the resident and promote successful reintegration with their family and community.

    Interpretation: Agencies should educate family members on any important information related to the resident’s treatment that will aid in the resident’s transition from care and offer supports to families such as individual mentoring and family and/or parent coaching. 

    Interpretation: Educating parents on sex trafficking is an important component to prevention, identification, and treatment.  Information provided should address how parents can raise their children in an environment free of abuse, neglect, and exploitation, through information on topics such as internet safety, how to respond when a child runs away, and developing healthy relationships.  Additionally, information for parents of trafficking victims should emphasize the issue of stigma associated with prostitution to help the family provide a healthy, nonjudgmental home environment, supportive of a successful reintegration.

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