Private Organization Accreditation

Heartland for Children is the not-for-profit agency responsible for the foster care system in Polk, Highlands, and Hardee Counties.


Mike Angstadt

Volunteer Roles: Commissioner; Hague Evaluator; Lead Evaluator; Peer Reviewer; Team Leader

Serving as a Team Leader for COA has been an enriching experience in many ways. Utilizing the Contextual Accreditation process to discern the means in which agencies, offering a variety of services, located throughout the US, Canada ,the Philippines and other countries provide best and most promising practices to their consumers has been particularly rewarding. read more>>


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.

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
    • 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.

Copyright © 2019 Council on Accreditation. All Rights Reserved.  Privacy Policy and Terms of Use