Standards for public agencies

2020 Edition

Child and Family Services (PA-CFS) 9: Services for Parents

Parents receive individualized services and supports that address their needs, increase their capacities for effective parenting, and assist them in stabilizing their families. 
Interpretation: This core concept is applicable to both parents whose children remain with them, and parents who have been separated from their children.  It also applies when agencies provide in-home services after reunification.  
2020 Edition




Child and Family Services promote child and family well-being, protect children’s safety, stablilize and strengthen families, and ensure permanency.
Examples: The Solution-Based Casework model emphasizes the importance of helping families build the skills they need to handle the everyday tasks that result in threats to safety and well-being, from supervising young children, to keeping the home clean and safe, to controlling anger or substance use. Caseworkers can partner with parents to identify the situations that pose challenges for the family, develop specific plans of action for dealing with those challenges in ways that reduce risk, promote safety, and celebrate the behavioral changes that occur.  
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 parents to services


  • Table of contents of educational curricula
  • Procedures for promoting collaboration between parents and out-of-home care providers
  • Community resource and referral list
  • Contracts or service agreements with community providers for the provision of services to parents
  • Informational materials provided to parents
  • Educational curricula


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

PA-CFS 9.01

Parents are connected to culturally-relevant services that help them meet basic needs and stabilize their families, including:  
  1. child care;
  2. housing referral and assistance;
  3. public benefits and income support, including any assistance needed to obtain food, clothing, and utility services;
  4. home care and support services, including household management and home health aide services; 
  5. medical and dental care; 
  6. respite care; 
  7. transportation services; and
  8. vocational and educational assistance.

Fundamental Practice

PA-CFS 9.02

Families receive intensive services, as needed, from domestic violence, mental health, and substance use treatment specialists.  

PA-CFS 9.03

Service interventions are designed to help parents: 
  1. evaluate the impact of their past experiences on current functioning and parenting practices; and 
  2. target situations that pose challenges for the family.

PA-CFS 9.04

Parents are helped to develop the skills and strategies needed to manage challenges, including: 
  1. expressing and regulating emotions;
  2. controlling impulses;    
  3. coping with stress and adversity;
  4. communicating effectively;
  5. making decisions;
  6. resolving conflicts and solving problems;
  7. identifying, seeking, and accessing needed services and supports;
  8. increasing awareness and mindfulness;
  9. engaging in effective self-care; and 
  10.  managing a home and budget.

PA-CFS 9.05

Parent education and support services promote the development of the knowledge and skills needed to: 
  1. understand the physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development of children, as well as factors and conditions that can promote or impede healthy development;
  2. provide nurturing care that promotes secure attachment and healthy development;
  3. provide appropriate supervision and monitoring;
  4. develop appropriate expectations regarding, and techniques for managing, children’s behavior;
  5. maintain a safe home environment; and
  6. meet any special needs that children may present.

Interpretation: Parents involved with the child welfare system due to family conflict or rejection related to their child’s sexual orientation or gender identity should be connected to counseling and educational resources that will help them develop the knowledge and skills needed to manage the conflict, accept and support the child, understand and meet the needs of the child, and rebuild the parent-child relationship.
Examples: When children have been separated from their families, family time can provide an opportunity to practice new skills and improve parenting abilities. 

PA-CFS 9.06

Joint parent-child interventions are provided in order to:
  1. support the development of healthy connections between children and parents; and 
  2. repair any harm in the parent-child relationship, as needed.

PA-CFS 9.07

In an effort to build strong and healthy family support networks, parents are helped to: 
  1. identify current sources of support;
  2. develop plans for managing any negative influences in their networks; and
  3. explore how they might expand their social support networks, if necessary.

Examples: Extended family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and other community members may help to provide the ongoing support a family will need over time. Efforts to help parents strengthen their support networks may overlap with efforts undertaken during assessment or service planning to develop a family “team”.

PA-CFS 9.08

When parents have experienced trauma they are: 
  1. treated in a trauma-informed manner;
  2. helped to explore and understand the connection between their past experiences and current functioning;
  3. helped to identify, anticipate, and manage their responses to trauma reminders; and
  4. connected to trauma-informed services.

Examples: A history of trauma can impact a parent’s ability to regulate emotions, control impulses, make decisions, develop positive self-esteem and coping mechanisms, engage in relationships, and parent his or her children. It can also impact a parent’s ability to work with caseworkers, meet the demands of the child welfare system, and remain involved with children in out-of-home care. 

PA-CFS 9.09

When children have been separated from their parents, out-of-home care providers maintain connections with parents to mutually share information about the children and support parents’ involvement in their children’s care, unless contraindicated.


It is particularly important that regular communication be maintained with the parents of infants and toddlers, who may be unable to express their needs, in order to best meet needs and keep parents abreast of changes during this period of rapid child development. 
NA The agency does not work with children placed in out-of-home care.