Standards for public agencies

2020 Edition

Group Living Services (PA-GLS) 11: Community and Social Connections

Residents cultivate and sustain connections with their community and social support network to promote positive well-being.
NA The agency only serves residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
2020 Edition




Group Living Services allow individuals who need additional support to regain, maintain, and improve life skills and functioning in a safe, stable, community-based living arrangement.
Note: Programs serving residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities should refer to PA-PRG 5: Services for Persons with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.
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 facilitating community and social connections
  • Community resource list
  • Proof of accreditation, licensure, or certification for outside providers operating adventure-based activities
  • Interviews may include:
    1. Program director
    2. Relevant personnel
    3. Residents
  • Review case records
  • Observe a variety of activities

PA-GLS 11.01

The agency facilitates residents’ ability to access all available services and successfully reintegrate into their community by:
  1. remaining knowledgeable about local, regional, and state resources, including networking and leadership opportunities; and
  2. identifying opportunities for residents to develop positive ties to the community based on mutual interests and abilities.

PA-GLS 11.02

Agencies create a normative environment for residents while they are in care and provide residents opportunities to participate in:
  1. culturally and developmentally appropriate social, recreational, educational, or vocational activities in their community;
  2. religious observances in the faith group or spirituality of choice; and
  3. family and neighborhood activities consistent with their ethnic and cultural heritage and tribal affiliation.
Examples: Activities in the community can include sports teams, drama, choir, and musical groups that promote pro-social behaviors and values.

PA-GLS 11.03

Residents are helped to develop social support networks and build healthy, meaningful relationships with caring individuals of their choosing.
Examples: “Caring individuals” may include mentors, community members, friends, classmates, peers, siblings, cousins, grandparents, former foster parents, and extended family members.

PA-GLS 11.04

The agency encourages social and community integration through the development of life skills necessary to:
  1. navigate the surrounding environment;
  2. obtain housing;
  3. pursue educational and occupational opportunities;
  4. manage finances;
  5. access community resources such as banks, employment agencies, government offices, and recreational and educational agencies;
  6. access public assistance;
  7. communicate effectively and resolve conflicts;
  8. participate in recreational activities and/or hobbies; and
  9. prepare for discharge and family reintegration, independent living, or another less restrictive setting, if applicable.


This standard is applicable for all residents regardless of age. Agencies should tailor life skills training to meet the age and developmental level of the service population.

Fundamental Practice

PA-GLS 11.05

The agency evaluates residents for their ability to participate in athletic activities and obtains as necessary:
  1. a written, signed permission slip from the resident's legal guardian;
  2. a medical records release;
  3. a signed document from a qualified medical professional stating that the resident is physically capable of participating; or
  4. an adult waiver and release of liability.
NA The agency does not offer athletic activities to residents.

PA-GLS 11.06

The agency offers employment opportunities or employment-related training to residents and:
  1. makes reasonable efforts to match training and employment opportunities to the goals and interests of individual residents;
  2. paid job opportunities are completely voluntary; and
  3. a policy prohibiting exploitation of residents is maintained.
NA The agency does not provide employment-related training or jobs to residents.

Fundamental Practice

PA-GLS 11.07

Agencies that purchase services from providers that operate adventure-based activities with a significant degree of risk request proof of accreditation, licensure, or certification with a nationally recognized authority for the activity being conducted.
NA The agency does not purchase services from providers that operate adventure-based activities.
Examples: Adventure-based activities with a significant degree of risk can include, white water rafting, climbing walls, or ropes courses.