Standards for public agencies

2020 Edition

Child and Family Services (PA-CFS) 25: Resource Family Use of Physical Interventions

Resource parents who use physical interventions are trained and supported by the agency to deploy them in a manner that ensures safety and well-being when positive behavior support and de-escalation measures have proven ineffective in crisis situations.  



Physical interventions do not include actions in response to age- or development-related behaviors demonstrated by young children such as physically holding a three-year-old who tries to run into the street.
NA The agency does not work with children placed in out-of-home care.

NA The agency does not permit resource families to use physical interventions.
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
  • Behavior support policy
  • Behavior support procedures
  • Table of contents for resource parent physical intervention training curriculum
  • Training curriculum
  • Documentation tracking completion of required trainings and evaluation 
  • Documentation of incident reporting and review
  • Interviews may include:
    1. Program director
    2. Relevant personnel
    3. Resource parents
  • Review resource parent records
  • Review case records


PA-CFS 25.01

The agency’s policy and procedures: 
  1. prohibit the use of locked seclusion and mechanical restraints by resource families; 
  2. define which physical interventions resource families are and are not allowed to use, and under what circumstances; and
  3. outline what to do following an incident.



The policy and procedures should align with the information the agency provides families in PA-BSM 2.01. Given that COA’s standards prohibit the use of locked seclusion by resource families, resource parents should never lock a child in a room. If there are concerns about the child’s safety, the resource family should consult with the case worker and behavior support plan for alternative options.

Fundamental Practice

PA-CFS 25.02

Physical interventions are discontinued as soon as possible and are prohibited from use: 
  1. by anyone other than the resource parents or other adult caregivers who have been approved by the agency;
  2. as a form of punishment or discipline;
  3. for the convenience of resource parents;
  4. in response to property damage that does not involve imminent danger to self or others; 
  5. when contraindicated in the child’s behavior plan;
  6. for longer than 15 minutes for children aged nine and younger; and
  7. for longer than 30 minutes for children aged ten and older.


PA-CFS 25.03

The case worker and resource family establish procedures for: 
  1. how to notify the agency following each use of a physical intervention;
  2. documentation of the incident; and
  3. debriefing with the child and resource family members involved in or witness to the incident.



Debriefing should address: 
  1. the physical and emotional state of everyone involved;
  2. precipitating events; and
  3. how the incident was handled and any additional supports or resources needed in order to avoid future incidents.

Fundamental Practice

PA-CFS 25.04

Resource parents are trained on the child’s individualized behavior support and management plan at placement, and receive annual training and evaluation on permitted physical interventions, including: 
  1. when it is appropriate to use a physical intervention;
  2. proper and safe use of interventions, including time limits for use;
  3. understanding the experience of being placed in manual restraints;
  4. assessing physical and mental status, including signs of physical distress;
  5. response techniques to prevent and reduce injury;
  6. assessing when to discontinue the physical intervention; and
  7. negative effects that can result from the misuse of restrictive interventions. 



To ensure competency, resource parents should receive a post-test and be observed in practice. 
NA The agency is not responsible for resource parent training.