Standards for public agencies

2020 Edition

Child and Family Services (PA-CFS) 15: Supports and Services for Children in Out-of-Home Care

Children in out-of-home care receive developmentally-appropriate support and services that promote well-being.
Interpretation: Informal Kinship Care Programs should work closely with kinship caregivers to meet the needs identified in the standards through support and mentoring, advocacy, direct referrals for service, and linkages to community resources. 

NA  The agency does not work with children placed in out-of-home care.
2020 Edition




Child and Family Services promote child and family well-being, protect children’s safety, stablilize and strengthen families, and ensure permanency.
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.  
Self-Study EvidenceOn-Site EvidenceOn-Site Activities
  • Procedures for referring children to services


  • Procedures for educational collaboration and support
  • Informational materials provided to children
  • Community resource and referral list
  • Contracts or service agreements with community providers for the provision of services for children
  • Informational materials provided to resource parents regarding facilitating normalcy


  • Interviews may include:
    1. Program director
    2. Relevant personnel
    3. Parents served
    4. Children served
    5. Resource parents
    6. Residential treatment providers
  • Review case records
  • Visit resource family homes

Fundamental Practice

PA-CFS 15.01

Children receive a developmentally-appropriate orientation to their new living situation that addresses: 
  1. their rights and responsibilities when they are not living with their parents or primary caregivers;
  2. what they need to feel safe and what they should do when they do not feel safe, including attention to both the risks of and alternatives to, running away;
  3. the rules in the home or program and their response to the rules; and
  4. their ongoing contact with their parents, siblings, extended families, friends, and communities.

Fundamental Practice

PA-CFS 15.02

Children reside in safe and supportive homes or programs that provide:  
  1. a safe, pleasant, and welcoming atmosphere;
  2. nurturing and nonjudgmental relationships that promote positive attachment and support emotional development and well-being;
  3. age- and developmentally-appropriate boundaries, supervision, and discipline;
  4. an orderly but flexible daily schedule that is balanced with attention to development and well-being; and
  5. space in their room to personalize.

Fundamental Practice

PA-CFS 15.03

In order to ensure that their personal care needs are met, children are provided with:  
  1. a physical environment and materials that support healthy development;
  2. sufficient and nutritious meals and snacks; 
  3. clothing that is clean, seasonal, age-appropriate, and comfortable;
  4. an allowance for personal needs, as appropriate;
  5. assistance in meeting personal care needs, as appropriate; and
  6. regular access to a telephone to contact workers, advocates, service providers, and approved family and friends.

PA-CFS 15.04

Children have opportunities to participate in a range of age- and developmentally-appropriate social, recreational, cultural, educational, religious, and community activities of their choice.



As per the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act of 2014, children in out-of-home care should have opportunities to participate in the same range of normal activities and life experiences as children living with their own families.  It is also important to note that children should have the right to choose whether or not they wish to participate in a resource family’s religious activities. 

Examples: Depending on age and developmental level, it may be appropriate for a child or youth to join a club or sports team, attend a dance class, spend time with friends, have a sleepover, attend a field trip with a school or church group, volunteer, date, learn to drive, or work a part-time job.  Participating in these “normal” activities  can help children and youth form healthy relationships, develop interests, build skills, and prepare for responsible adulthood. 

PA-CFS 15.05

In an effort to facilitate normalcy and help resource parents make appropriate decisions regarding the children in their care, the agency clarifies: 
  1. resource parents’ authority to make day-to-day decisions regarding children’s participation in activities, including the specific types of activities they are permitted to authorize;
  2. factors to consider in determining whether an activity is safe and appropriate for a particular child; and
  3. the extent to which resource parents are protected from liability if a child is harmed during the course of an activity they approved.

Interpretation: Under the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act of 2014, the reasonable and prudent parent standard permits caregivers to make everyday decisions regarding children’s participation in extracurricular and social activities.  In determining whether a child should be allowed to participate in a particular activity the resource parent should consider: (1) the child’s age, developmental level, maturity, and behavioral history; (2) potential risk factors associated with the activity; (3) the best interest of the child, including potential for emotional and developmental growth; and (4) whether the resource parent would permit his or her own children to participate in the activity in question.

PA-CFS 15.06

Children receive any support and services they need in order to: 
  1. regulate their emotions and behavior;
  2. communicate effectively;
  3. form positive relationships with adults and peers; and
  4. explore and develop their personal, social, and cultural identities.

Examples: Sources of support may include but are not limited to: agency workers, resource families, residential treatment providers, family members, peers, and community members and organizations.  Services can include, but are not limited to: counseling or group therapy; formal opportunities for social skills development; and mentoring services.  

PA-CFS 15.07

Children receive support to achieve their full educational potential through:  
  1. enrollment and participation in education services and supports that promote positive development;
  2. regular and ongoing communication and collaboration between agency workers, educators, resource families or residential treatment providers, and parents regarding children’s educational achievements and challenges, as well as any social or behavioral issues in the school setting; 
  3. stability in their home schools, unless it is determined not to be in their best interest;
  4. educational assessments and an individual education plan when needed;
  5. tutoring; and 
  6. advocacy.

Examples: Depending on age and developmental level, appropriate education services and supports may include: early childhood education programs; early intervention services; accredited primary and secondary schools; and after-school or youth development programs.

PA-CFS 15.08

Children are treated in a trauma-informed manner and when needed are connected to trauma-informed services that are designed to: 
  1. maximize their sense of safety;
  2. help them understand and process their traumatic experiences;
  3. facilitate the development of skills and strategies to use when confronted with reminders of trauma;
  4. help create and sustain positive attachments with caring adults and peers; and
  5. help caregivers and parents understand how children’s past experiences may impact their present behavior, and appropriately support children’s recovery.

Examples: Caregivers and parents may be better able to support children who have experienced trauma if they understand the concept of trauma; recognize that children’s social, emotional, and behavioral difficulties may be the result of trauma; and are prepared to manage difficult behaviors and trauma reminders.

PA-CFS 15.09

In an age- and developmentally-appropriate manner, the agency works with children, parents, and resource families or residential treatment providers to promote children’s self-sufficiency and informed decision making related to:  
  1. activities of daily living; 
  2. practicing effective interpersonal communication and conflict resolution;
  3. promoting and managing health;
  4. obtaining housing and managing their households; 
  5.  accessing educational opportunities;
  6. obtaining and maintaining employment;
  7.  managing money, including budgeting, saving, investing, buying on credit, and debt counseling;
  8. accessing community resources; and 
  9. navigating public assistance and other governmental programs.



This standard is applicable for all children regardless of age. PA-CFS 21 provides further detail as to the services and supports that should be provided to youth as they move towards the transition to adulthood.

Fundamental Practice

PA-CFS 15.10

Resource parents sign a statement indicating that for children placed in their care they agree to: 
  1. identify and report abuse and neglect;
  2. employ positive discipline techniques; 
  3. refrain from using physical and degrading punishment; and
  4. ensure that others refrain from using physical and degrading punishment.