Standards for public agencies

2020 Edition

Pregnancy Support Services (PA-PS) 5: Pregnancy Options Counseling/Birth Options Counseling

Individuals receive nondirective counseling and information services that help them make decisions about the pregnancy.

Interpretation

Agencies that offer counseling on all possible options for the pregnancy (i.e. parenting, adoption or other transfer of custody, and termination) will be considered to provide Pregnancy Options Counseling. Agencies that offer counseling only on parenting and adoption or other transfer of custody (i.e. not on termination) will be considered to provide Birth Options Counseling, and will be rated according to slightly different criteria for standards PA-PS 5.01, PA-PS 5.02, and PA-PS 5.07. See those standards for further guidance.
NA The agency does not provide counseling services designed to help individuals make decisions about their pregnancies.
2020 Edition

Currently viewing: PREGNANCY SUPPORT SERVICES (PA-PS)

VIEW THE STANDARDS

Purpose

Individuals who participate in Pregnancy Support Services learn about parenthood, make informed decisions about their pregnancies, stay healthy, and pursue their educational and vocational goals.
1
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. 
2
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.
3

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.
4
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
  • Outreach materials describing the type of counseling offered
  • Procedures for maintaining confidentiality when involved parties are counseled separately
  • Procedures for referring individuals to services
  • Informational materials
  • Community resource and referral list
  • Interviews may include:
    1. Program director
    2. Relevant personnel
    3. Persons served
  • Review case records

 
Fundamental Practice

PA-PS 5.01

Individuals have the option to be counseled and fully-informed about all possible options for the pregnancy.
Interpretation: Possible options for the pregnancy include parenting, planning for adoption or other transfer of custody, and termination. 

When an agency offers only Birth Options Counseling, and thus does not provide counseling and information related to termination, the agency should: 
  1. disclose this fact to service recipients, as referenced in PA-PS 3.01 and CA-PS 3.02; and 
  2. be prepared to demonstrate that it carefully considered its mission, capacity, resources, influence on the individual’s decision making, and community’s needs when it decided not to provide counseling on all alternatives for pregnancy resolution.
When this is the case practice could include providing individuals with a comprehensive list of other community providers that offer pregnancy counseling, support, and education services.

 
Fundamental Practice

PA-PS 5.02

Counseling is nondirective and nonjudgmental, and helps individuals make the best decisions for their particular circumstances.

Interpretation

Although agencies that offer only Birth Options Counseling will not provide counseling on termination, they should still provide nondirective and nonjudgmental counseling regarding parenting and adoption or other transfer of custody.

 
Fundamental Practice

PA-PS 5.03

When family members or significant others, including the birth father, are involved in counseling services:
  1. all parties have opportunities to explore their individual feelings and needs; and
  2. confidentiality is protected at all times, if parties are counseled separately.

Interpretation

When the birth father or family requests counseling and the pregnant woman is opposed, the agency should make a referral or create a separate case. When a separate case is created, confidentiality must be protected at all times.
Examples: When an agency provides joint counseling, it may be appropriate to offer both joint and individual counseling in order to ensure that counseling parties together does not inhibit a full exploration of individuals’ feelings. 

 

PA-PS 5.04

Individuals have the opportunity to receive information and counseling regarding the implications of parenting that addresses:
  1. responsibilities associated with parenting;
  2. child care;
  3. living arrangements;
  4. costs associated with raising a child;
  5. how parenting will impact the expectant parents’ goals and plans for the future;
  6. whether family members or friends will be willing to help the expectant parents;
  7. the role that the birth father will play; and
  8. single parenting or the possibility of marriage.

 

PA-PS 5.05

Individuals have the opportunity to receive information and counseling regarding the implications of adoption or other transfer of custody that addresses:
  1. types of available adoption and guardianship services, and the range of openness in adoption;
  2. parents’ legal rights and the rights termination process;
  3. financial assistance that may be available;
  4. separation from the child, and grief and loss;
  5. long-term implications of the decision; and
  6. making plans for the immediate future.

 

PA-PS 5.06

Individuals have the opportunity to receive information and counseling regarding the implications of termination that addresses:
  1. attitudes toward pregnancy termination, including personal religious beliefs;
  2. emotional issues related to grief and loss, and the finality of the decision;
  3. types of procedures available;
  4. costs of the procedure; and
  5. legal issues for minors (such as parental notification, parental consent, and judicial bypass), if applicable.
NA The agency provides only Birth Options Counseling.

 

PA-PS 5.07

Individuals are helped to carry out their decisions about the pregnancy and obtain any other needed services, directly or by referral.

Interpretation

Individuals may need prenatal care, parent education, adoption services, or termination services to carry out their decisions about the pregnancy. Agencies that offer only Birth Options Counseling, and thus do not provide linkages to termination services, should disclose this fact to service recipients, as referenced in PA-PS 5.01.
Examples: Other needed services can include, but are not limited to, health, educational, vocational, and housing services.

 
Fundamental Practice

PA-PS 5.08

To help individuals stay healthy and prevent subsequent unintended pregnancies, the agency:
  1. provides information and education about the prevention and treatment of diseases, including HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases;
  2. provides information and education about pregnancy prevention, pregnancy planning, and the spacing of children; and
  3. links individuals to family planning services.

Interpretation

When an agency does not provide linkages to family planning services because doing so is counter to its mission, the agency should disclose this fact to service recipients and provide individuals with a list of other community providers that offer pregnancy support and education services.