Standards for public agencies

2020 Edition

Shelter Services (PA-SH) 7: Service Components

The agency provides services that ensure that service recipients are safe and their immediate needs are met.
2020 Edition

Currently viewing: SHELTER SERVICES (PA-SH)



Shelter Services meet the basic needs of individuals and families who are homeless or in transition, support family stabilization or independent living, and facilitate access to services and permanent housing.
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 individuals to services
  • Procedures for evaluating educational needs and coordinating educational services
  • Community resource and referral list
  • Criteria for making group assignments
  • Interviews may include:
    1. Program director
    2. Relevant personnel
    3. Persons served
  • Observe facility and outdoor area/grounds
  • Review case records

PA-SH 7.01

The agency's programs provide a minimally intrusive environment that offers safety from the streets and the elements.
Examples: Allowing families to follow their schedules, routines, and rituals to the greatest extent possible can support family functioning, encourage stability, and minimize stress.
Note: Please see the Facility Observation Checklist for additional guidance on this standard.

PA-SH 7.02

The agency provides:
  1. nutritious food;
  2. clothing;
  3. personal hygiene supplies; 
  4. crisis intervention;
  5. a mailing address and/or voicemail;
  6. access to a computer and the internet;
  7. information and referral for services; and
  8. connections to behavioral health and medical services.
Examples: Providing service recipients with a private voicemail account may help them to communicate and stay connected with employers, landlords, service providers, and family members.
Note: Please see the Facility Observation Checklist for additional guidance on this standard.

PA-SH 7.03

The agency considers the unique characteristics of shelter residents when grouping people together.


Characteristics that should be considered can include the number of individuals grouped together, age, special needs, gender, gender identity, and gender expression. All service recipients should be treated according to their self-identified gender, meaning that transgender and gender non-conforming service recipients should be given access to sleeping quarters, bathroom facilities, and services based on their stated gender, not their assigned sex at birth, in accordance with applicable federal and state laws.

PA-SH 7.04

The agency maintains families as a unit and keeps sibling groups together, whenever possible.
NA The agency does not serve families or children and youth without their parents.

PA-SH 7.05

When serving families with children the agency provides or arranges for recreational and educational activities that: 
  1. are appropriate to children’s ages, developmental levels, and cultures, and offer access to appropriate toys and equipment;
  2. encourage play and physical activity; and
  3. are provided in safe, childproofed indoor and outdoor environments.


All toys and equipment must be installed and used according to the manufacturer’s instructions and meet all applicable safety standards.


Activities should be sensitive to the needs of youth who identify as LGBTQ, indigenous groups, and youth with special needs.
NA The agency does not admit families with children.
Examples: Examples of appropriate toys and equipment include: sensory materials, books in the languages spoken by service recipients, art materials, sorting/stacking toys, and gross-motor equipment.
Note: Please see the Facility Observation Checklist for additional guidance on this standard.

PA-SH 7.06

The agency evaluates the educational status and needs of children and youth, and:
  1. informs youth and their parents of their educational rights;
  2. connects children ages 0-5 with early childhood learning programs;
  3. coordinates educational services with relevant school districts;
  4. assists college-bound students with Free Application for Federal Student Aid and college applications; and
  5. helps children and youth stay current with the curricula by providing time and space for quiet reading and studying, and assistance with school assignments.
NA The agency does not admit families with children or children and youth without their parents.
Note: Please see the Facility Observation Checklist for additional guidance on this standard.

PA-SH 7.07

The agency meets the developmental needs of children and youth by: 
  1. facilitating connections to early intervention and trauma-specific services, as necessary;
  2. supporting parents to ensure that children meet age-appropriate developmental milestones; and
  3. providing access to resources and parenting classes on age- and developmentally-appropriate parenting skills and techniques.
NA The agency does not admit families with children or children and youth without their parents.