Standards for private organizations

2020 Edition

Services for Unaccompanied Children (UC) 8: Program Facilities

Program facilities contribute to a physically and psychologically safe, healthy, non-institutional, homelike environment.


“Homelike” settings are assessed within the context of the organization's location and environment.
NA The organization provides post-release services only.
2020 Edition




Unaccompanied Children Services support youth safety and well-being, facilitate family involvement and provide necessary supports to children seeking physical and emotional safety and legal protection.
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.      
Self-Study EvidenceOn-Site EvidenceOn-Site Activities
  • Procedures for maintaining a clean and safe environment
No On-Site Evidence
  • Interviews may include:
    1. Program director
    2. Relevant personnel
    3. Children served
  • Observe facilities and outdoor areas/grounds

UC 8.01

The program facility serves children in a supportive setting that: 
  1. enables them to feel physically and psychologically safe and secure; and
  2. provides a developmentally appropriate and culturally responsive environment, with clear and consistent rules and behavioral expectations that are developed with their participation.

UC 8.02

Living quarters consist of separate cottages or small scale living environments in the residential building that include: 
  1. a common room, dining and/or kitchen area, and space for indoor recreation;
  2. private areas where children can meet with family and friends;
  3. private facilities for bathing, toileting, and personal hygiene; and
  4. ready access to a telephone with preprogrammed numbers and other technology, as permitted, for use by children and personnel.


Regarding element (c), programs must have gender-specific sleeping areas and facilities for bathing, toileting, and personal hygiene to ensure a child’s privacy from children of the opposite gender.

Programs should also have facilities that are developmentally appropriate and culturally responsive including outdoor and indoor play spaces with adequate toys, books, and other recreational supplies as referenced in element (a).


Care providers must provide Unaccompanied Children access to telephones with preprogrammed numbers for the UAC Sexual Abuse Hotline, CPS, and the local community service provider or national rape crisis hotline. Care providers should include other preprogrammed telephone numbers, such as telephone numbers for consulates or a legal service provider, in order to avoid any stigma in using the preprogrammed telephones. Preprogrammed telephones must be placed in areas of the facility where children may easily access them without assistance from staff but where they are also afforded some level of privacy so that other children and staff cannot easily listen to telephone conversations. The care provider must ensure that all youth are taught how to access and use preprogrammed telephones as part of educational sessions when describing available reporting methods.

UC 8.03

Personal accommodations for children are age, developmentally, gender, and culturally appropriate and include: 
  1. single rooms, rooms for groups of two to four children, and/or accommodations for larger groups, if appropriate for therapeutic reasons;
  2. adequately and attractively furnished rooms with a separate bed for each child including a clean, comfortable, covered mattress, pillow, sufficient linens, and blankets; 
  3. a non-stacking crib for each infant and toddler that is 24 months or younger that meets safety guidelines, as applicable; and
  4. a safe place, such as a locker, to keep personal belongings and valuables.


Group assignments and room accommodations may be adjusted as appropriate to the service provided, therapeutic considerations, level of risk, or developmental appropriateness.
Examples: National advocacy standards suggest that single rooms have at least 100 square feet of floor space and rooms housing more than one individual have at least 80 square feet per person. Group assignments and room accommodations may be adjusted as appropriate to the service provided, therapeutic considerations, level of risk, or developmental appropriateness.

Examples: The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) provides standards to ensure safety for full-size and non-full size crib. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that cribs are used by children under 90 centimeters (35 inches) tall.

UC 8.04

Children participate actively in: 
  1. decorating and personalizing their sleeping area; 
  2. choosing clothing preferences, as appropriate; and
  3. contributing to decisions about how to make living areas inviting, comfortable, and reflective of the their interests and diversity.

UC 8.05

The program facility provides: 
  1. adequate space for storage and maintenance needs;
  2. sufficient and culturally appropriate supplies and equipment to meet the needs of children served;
  3. access to a computer and the internet;
  4. adequate space for administrative support functions, food preparation, housekeeping, laundry, maintenance, and storage;
  5. rooms for providing on-site services, as applicable;
  6. accommodations for informal gathering of children including during inclement weather;
  7. at least one room suitably furnished for the use of on-duty personnel; and
  8. private sleeping accommodations for personnel who sleep at the facility, if applicable.

UC 8.06

The residential facility and outdoor space is clean and maintained in good condition to promote the health and safety of personnel and children served.


The facility’s outdoor area should be inviting and contain sufficient space for recreational activities. Outdoor equipment must meet all playground equipment safety standards and be appropriate for the number, age, and developmental level of children served.