Pregnancy Support Services (PS) 5: Pregnancy Options Counseling/Birth Options Counseling
Individuals receive nondirective counseling and information services that help them make decisions about the pregnancy.
Organizations 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. Organizations 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 PS 5.01, PS 5.02, and PS 5.07. See those standards for further guidance.
NAThe organization does not provide counseling services designed to help individuals make decisions about their pregnancies.
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All elements or requirements outlined in the standard are evident in practice, as indicated by full implementation of the practices outlined in the Practice Standards.
Practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards; e.g.,
Minor inconsistencies and not yet fully developed practices are noted; however, these do not significantly impact service quality; or
Procedures need strengthening; or
With few exceptions, procedures are understood by staff and are being used; or
For the most part, established timeframes are met; or
Proper documentation is the norm and any issues with individual staff members are being addressed through performance evaluations and training; or
Active client participation occurs to a considerable extent.
Practice requires significant improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards. Service quality or program functioning may be compromised; e.g.,
Procedures and/or case record documentation need significant strengthening; or
Procedures are not well-understood or used appropriately; or
Timeframes are often missed; or
Several client records are missing important information; or
Client participation is inconsistent.
Implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards; e.g.,
No written procedures, or procedures are clearly inadequate or not being used; or
Documentation is routinely incomplete and/or missing.
Outreach materials describing the type of counseling offered
Procedures for maintaining confidentiality when involved parties are counseled separately
Procedures for referring individuals to services
Community resource and referral list
Interviews may include:
Review case records
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 organization offers only Birth Options Counseling, and thus does not provide counseling and information related to termination, the organization should:
disclose this fact to service recipients, as referenced in PS 3.01 and PS 3.02; and
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.
Counseling is nondirective and nonjudgmental, and helps individuals make the best decisions for their particular circumstances.
Although organizations 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.
When family members or significant others, including the birth father, are involved in counseling services:
all parties have opportunities to explore their individual feelings and needs; and
confidentiality is protected at all times, if parties are counseled separately.
When the birth father or family requests counseling and the pregnant woman is opposed, the organization 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 organization 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.
Individuals have the opportunity to receive information and counseling regarding the implications of parenting that addresses:
responsibilities associated with parenting;
costs associated with raising a child;
how parenting will impact the expectant parents’ goals and plans for the future;
whether family members or friends will be willing to help the expectant parents;
the role that the birth father will play; and
single parenting or the possibility of marriage.
Individuals have the opportunity to receive information and counseling regarding the implications of adoption or other transfer of custody that addresses:
types of available adoption and guardianship services, and the range of openness in adoption;
parents’ legal rights and the rights termination process;
financial assistance that may be available;
separation from the child, and grief and loss;
long-term implications of the decision; and
making plans for the immediate future.
Individuals have the opportunity to receive information and counseling regarding the implications of termination that addresses:
attitudes toward pregnancy termination, including personal religious beliefs;
emotional issues related to grief and loss, and the finality of the decision;
types of procedures available;
costs of the procedure; and
legal issues for minors (such as parental notification, parental consent, and judicial bypass), if applicable.
NAThe organization provides only Birth Options Counseling.
Individuals are helped to carry out their decisions about the pregnancy and obtain any other needed services, directly or by referral.
Individuals may need prenatal care, parent education, adoption services, or termination services to carry out their decisions about the pregnancy. Organizations 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 PS 5.01.
Examples: Other needed services can include, but are not limited to, health, educational, vocational, and housing services.
To help individuals stay healthy and prevent subsequent unintended pregnancies, the organization:
provides information and education about the prevention and treatment of diseases, including HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases;
provides information and education about pregnancy prevention, pregnancy planning, and the spacing of children; and
links individuals to family planning services.
When an organization does not provide linkages to family planning services because doing so is counter to its mission or beliefs, the organization should disclose this fact to service recipients and provide individuals with a list of other community providers that offer pregnancy support and education services.