WHO IS ACCREDITED?

Private Organization Accreditation

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

Catholic Charities, Diocese of Covington

Wm. R. (Bill) Jones, ACSW, MDiv, Chief Executive Officer

Catholic Charities in Covington has been COA accredited since 1996. Though the time spent in completing the self study and hosting the site visit can sometimes feel sometimes daunting, the rewards far outweigh the effort. In our agency, the self-study is a group process that involves every member of the staff from the CEO to the building maintenance staff.
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Purpose

Shelter Services meet the basic needs of individuals and families who are homeless or in transition, support family stabilization or independent living, and facilitate access to services and permanent housing. 

SH 3: Intake and Assessment

Program staff employ prompt, responsive intake practices and assess service recipients’ immediate and long-term needs, wishes, and goals.

Interpretation: Programs should use standardized screening and assessment instruments to ensure that service recipients are connected to the most appropriate services available within the community. The instruments should be evidence-based, person- and/or family-centered, strengths-based, trauma-informed, and facilitate referrals to the full range of services needed (i.e., homelessness programs, affordable housing, mainstream benefits and services, health and mental health services, employment services, child- and youth-specific services, etc.). Screening instruments should be appropriate for administration by non-clinical staff.

Note: The Assessment Matrix - Private, Public, Canadian, Network determines which level of assessment is required for COA’s Service Sections. The assessment elements of the Matrix can be tailored according to the needs of specific individuals or service design.

Rating Indicators
1
All elements or requirements outlined in the standard are evident in practice, as indicated by full implementation of the practices outlined in the Practice standards.
2
Practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice standards; e.g.,  
  • Minor inconsistencies and not yet fully developed practices are noted, however, these do not significantly impact service quality; or
  • Procedures need strengthening; or
  • With few exceptions procedures are understood by staff and are being used; or
  • Referrals procedures need strengthening; or
  • For the most part, established timeframes are met; or
  • Culturally responsive assessments are the norm and any issues with individual staff members are being addressed through performance evaluations (HR 6.02) and training (TS 2.05); or
  • Active client participation occurs to a considerable extent; or
  • In a few rare instances, urgent needs were not prioritized; or
  • Diagnostic tests are consistently and appropriately used, but interviews with staff indicate a need for more training (TS 2.08).
3
Practice requires significant improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice standards.  Service quality or program functioning may be compromised; e.g.,
  • Procedures and/or case record documentation need significant strengthening; or
  • Procedures are not well-understood or used appropriately; or
  • Urgent needs are often not prioritized; or
  • Services are frequently not initiated in a timely manner; or
  • Applicants are not receiving referrals, as appropriate; or
  • Assessment and reassessment timeframes are often missed; or
  • Assessment are sometimes not sufficiently individualized;
  • Culturally responsive assessments are not the norm and this is not being addressed in supervision or training; or
  • Staff are not competent to administer diagnostic tests , or tests are not being used when clinically indicated; or
  • A number of client records are missing important information; or
  • Client participation is inconsistent; or
  • Screening and intake done by referral source and no documentation and/or summary of required information present in case record; or
  • Assessments are done by referral source and no documentation and/or summary of required information present in case record; or
  • One of the Fundamental Practice Standards received a rating of 3 or 4.
4
Implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all, as noted in the ratings for the Practice standards; e.g.,
  • There are no written procedures, or procedures are clearly inadequate or not being used; or
  • Documentation is routinely incomplete and/or missing; or  
  • Two or more Fundamental Practice Standards received a rating of 3 or 4.

Table of Evidence

Self-Study Evidence On-Site Evidence On-Site Activities
    • Screening and intake procedures
    • Assessment procedures
    • Screening tools
    • Assessment tools
No On-Site Evidence
    • Interview:
      1. Program director
      2. Relevant personnel
      3. Residents
    • Review case records

  • FP
    SH 3.01

    Individuals or families are admitted regardless of ability to pay, employment status, level of income, criminal record, or sobriety and are connected to the most appropriate services and programs available within the community. 

    Interpretation: If services are limited to a specific population, the program has a clear policy for such selectivity. Such programs will refer individuals to other appropriate programs and services in the community.

    Infants and young children who are abandoned at a program site or are not accompanied by a parent or legal guardian are referred to the child welfare authority.


  • FP
    SH 3.02

    Prompt, responsive intake practices:

    1. are culturally responsive;
    2. are trauma informed;
    3. are non-stigmatizing and non-judgmental;
    4. ensure equitable treatment;
    5. give priority to urgent needs and emergency situations;
    6. support timely initiation of services; 
    7. refers individuals to services at other providers, if appropriate; and
    8. provide for placement on a waiting list, if applicable.

    Update:

    • Deleted Fundamental Practice Standard - 10/16/17

    Interpretation: For basic emergency shelters and enhanced emergency shelters, intake should occur on the same day that services are requested.

    Interpretation: Culturally responsive intake practices can include attention to geographic location, language of choice, the person’s religious, racial, ethnic, and cultural background, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and developmental level.

    To ensure that transgender and gender non-conforming service recipients are treated with respect and feel safe, intake forms and procedures should allow individuals to self-identify their gender and receive access to sleeping quarters, bathroom facilities, and shower facilities accordingly. Additionally, service recipient choice regarding their first names and pronouns should be respected. 

    Interpretation: Trauma-informed intake practices explore whether a service recipient has been exposed to traumatic events and exhibits trauma-related symptoms and/or mental health disorders. A positive screen indicates that an assessment or further evaluation by a trained professional is warranted. During the screening process, service recipients should feel emotionally and physically safe.


  • FP
    SH 3.03

    Service recipients participate in an intake screening within 24 hours of admission that includes:

    1. gathering personal and identifying information;
    2. health status, including emergency health needs;
    3. recent housing status;
    4. reason for homelessness;
    5. history of homelessness;
    6. the potential for violence or victimization;
    7. risk for suicide; and
    8. basic demographic information.

    Interpretation: Organizations may respond to identified suicide risk by connecting service recipients to more intensive services; facilitating the development of a safety and/or crisis plan; or contacting emergency responders, 24-hour mobile crisis teams, emergency crisis intervention services, crisis stabilization, or 24-hour crisis hotlines, as appropriate.

    Research Note: Homelessness has been associated with an increase in or exacerbation of health problems, and creates barriers to accessing proper health care. Living on the street and/or in a shelter can mean exposure to inclement weather, communicable diseases, interpersonal violence, and high levels of stress. Homelessness makes it more challenging to manage medications and recouperate from illness and injuries, and a lack of income and access to insurance limits the ability of individuals experiencing homelessness to receive the health care they need. 

    Research Note: Some groups of service recipients may be at higher risk for suicide due to past trauma, compounding risk factors, and/or societal stigma, including individuals with public systems involvement (foster care, juvenile justice, criminal justice), military service members, American Indian and Alaska Natives, and individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT). Service recipients with alcohol use and/or mental health disorders are also at elevated risk for suicide. 

    Studies have also shown that individuals experiencing a financial crisis, including foreclosure and eviction, are more likely to experience high levels of stress, poor physical health, depression, anxiety, and be at risk for suicide.

    NA Another organization is responsible for screening, as defined in a contract.


  • SH 3.04

    Children and youth receive an age-appropriate intake screening that includes: 

    1. gathering personal and identifying information;
    2. health status, including emergency health needs;
    3. education status, including enrollment in early childhood education or school; and
    4. basic demographic information.

    NA Another organization is responsible for screening, as defined in a contract.

    NA The organization does not admit families with children or children and youth without their parents.


  • SH 3.05

    A comprehensive assessment is conducted in a timely manner and includes, as appropriate:

    1. employment history;
    2. mainstream benefits history;
    3. housing history for the past five years;
    4. housing barriers;
    5. housing goals and preferences;
    6. veteran status;
    7. level of education and educational goals;
    8. income and resources;
    9. substance abuse history;
    10. mental health history, diagnoses, and medications;
    11. developmental disability status and history;
    12. family functioning, parental stress, and parenting skills;
    13. a social network inventory, including relationships with family, friends, and/or significant others;
    14. history of childhood victimization and trauma; and
    15. history of adult victimization, including domestic violence and sexual abuse, and imminent and long-term safey concerns.

    Interpretation: Regarding element (n), assessments may explore a range of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), such as emotional, physical, and sexual abuse; violence in the home; household substance use; mental illness in the household; parental divorce or separation; household members with criminal justice involvement; and emotional and physical neglect.

    Interpretation: Personnel that conduct assessments should be aware of the indicators of a potential trafficking victim, including, but not limited to: 

    1. evidence of mental, physical, or sexual abuse;
    2. physical exhaustion;
    3. working long hours;
    4. living with employer or many people in confined area;
    5. unclear family relationships;
    6. heightened sense of fear or distrust of authority;
    7. presence of older male boyfriend or pimp;
    8. loyalty or positive feelings towards an abuser;
    9. inability or fear of making eye contact;
    10. chronic running away or homelessness;
    11. possession of excess amounts of cash or hotel keys; and
    12. inability to provide a local address or information about parents.

    Several tools are available to help identify a potential victim of trafficking and determine next steps toward an appropriate course of treatment. Examples of these tools include, but are not limited to, the Rapid Screening Tool for Child Trafficking and the Comprehensive Screening and Safety Tool for Child Trafficking.

    Research Note: The William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 requires federal, state, and local officials who discover a minor who may be a victim of human trafficking to notify the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services within 24 hours to facilitate the provision of interim assistance.

    Research Note: Studies show a high rate of major depressive disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder among mothers experiencing homelessness, which can negatively affect parenting and the child’s mental and behavioral health status, and school performance.

    NA The organization only provides basic emergency shelter. 


  • SH 3.06

    Children and youth receive a comprehensive, age-appropriate assessment in a timely manner to evaluate their cognitive, language, motor, behavioral, and social-emotional development.

    Interpretation: To help decrease family rejection and increase family support for youth who identify as LGBTQ, the assessment should include a network inventory of family relationships, experiences with family rejection, capacity for increasing family acceptance and support, and specific culturally appropriate education and guidance.
     

    Research Note: A meta-analysis of research studies showed that school-aged children experiencing homelessness are significantly more likely to experience mental health issues compared to low-income children living in stable housing. Overall, up to 26% of preschoolers and up to 40% of school-aged children experiencing homelessness may have mental health issues that require a clinical evaluation.

    NA The organization only provides basic emergency shelter.

    NA The organization does not admit families with children or children and youth without their parents.


  • SH 3.07

    The information gathered for assessments is strengths-based, comprehensive, directed at concerns identified during the intake screening, and limited to material pertinent for meeting service requests and objectives.

    NA The organization only provides basic emergency shelter.


  • SH 3.08

    Assessments are completed within timeframes established by the organization and are updated periodically. 

    Interpretation: Generally, assessments are completed within two weeks of intake. The frequency of updates to assessments vary depending on the age and needs of the service recipient. For example, young children need more frequent updates due to the rapid pace of their development.

    NA The organization only provides basic emergency shelter.

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