Standards for public agencies

2020 Edition

Group Living Services (PA-GLS) 5: Family Involvement

The agency works with the resident and his or her family to develop and maintain an optimal level of family involvement in all program activities.
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.
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 family involvement
No On-Site Evidence
  • Interviews may include:
    1. Program director
    2. Relevant personnel
    3. Residents and their families
  • Review case records

PA-GLS 5.01

The agency helps every resident to:
  1. express the nature of family involvement desired;
  2. prevent, manage, and reduce family conflicts and develop problem-solving skills;
  3. identify family strengths that help members meet challenges;
  4. understand separation from family or significant others and grieve the loss of family;
  5. maintain relationships with family members through time spent at home and shared activities, as often as possible;
  6. participate in neighborhood activities; and
  7. prepare for returning home or for living with another family, if appropriate.


The agency should work with residents to identify individuals with whom they wish to maintain a relationship, especially when trafficking is suspected. Traffickers may pose as a significant other, older relative, or communicate through another individual and utilize visitation to continue the exploitation of the victim. In cases where the child is a victim of human trafficking, it is important to be aware that the child’s parent or caregiver may be the trafficker or complicit in the trafficking. In such cases, determining appropriate family supports and level of involvement should include the input of the child, as well as child welfare and law enforcement systems.


Unless contraindicated by court-order or there are compelling reasons to limit contact, residents should have the opportunity to spend time with their family at home and receive visits from family and friends. For adults, and some young adults, every attempt should be made to include family members identified by the resident. In cases where adults do not want family involvement, they should receive help to identify friendship opportunities based on common interests, and for young adults efforts should be made to help them connect with a non-custodial parent and/or other extended family members.

PA-GLS 5.02

The agency supports family involvement and engagement by:
  1. providing assistance or support, as needed;
  2. encouraging the family’s active participation in decision-making;
  3. providing an environment conducive to family visits and activities; and
  4. reestablishing parental and family care, or termination of parental rights, when in the best interest of or desired by the resident.
Examples: Examples of ways to engage families and encourage their participation can include asking family members directly about their needs and having family advocates available to offer assistance.

PA-GLS 5.03

Residents are located close to their families and home communities to retain natural connections and allow for continued participation in community programs and when services are not available close to a resident’s home or community, the agency attempts to maintain family ties and involve the family by:
  1. assisting the family with travel arrangements;
  2. coordinating or facilitating family services to be delivered in the community; and/or
  3. employing methods for telecommunication through web-based or electronic systems.
Examples: The agency can support family involvement and provide alternative services through cooperating local agencies. Transportation costs can be paid to facilitate frequent visiting and home visits, when possible.

PA-GLS 5.04

Family members receive information and support to help them understand the needs of the resident and promote successful reintegration with their family and community.


Educating parents on sex trafficking is an important component to prevention, identification, and treatment. Information provided should address how parents can raise their children in an environment free of abuse, neglect, and exploitation, through information on topics such as internet safety, how to respond when a child runs away, and developing healthy relationships. Additionally, information for parents of trafficking victims should emphasize the issue of stigma associated with prostitution to help the family provide a healthy, nonjudgmental home environment, supportive of a successful reintegration.
Examples: Agencies can educate family members on important information related to the resident’s treatment that will aid in their transition from care and offer supports to families, such as individual mentoring and family and/or parent coaching.