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Program Standards for Runaway Programs



SECOND CHANCE HOME - Supportive and supervised living arrangements where teens are required to learn parenting skills, including child development, family budgeting, health and nutrition, and other skills to promote their long-term economic independence and the well-being of their children.

HOMELESS YOUTH - The term “homeless youth” means an individual who is not more than 21 years of age; and for the purpose of the Transitional Living Programs/Second Chance Home Programs not less than 16 years of age; for whom it is not possible to live in a safe environment with a relative; and who has no other safe alternative living arrangement.



The Wisconsin Association for Homeless and Runaway Services developed the following runaway and homeless youth program standards to insure:



STANDARD: The program shall be adequately staffed by qualified personnel to ensure quality service delivery, effective program management, and the safety and supervision of youth in their care.


A. 1. The agency selects, for its service personnel, only those employees and/or volunteers with appropriate knowledge, related experience, or potential for working with youth and families in crisis.

A. 2. The program has a written plan for and provides training to all paid and volunteer staff (including youth) in both the policies and procedures employed by the program and in specific skill areas as determined by the program. All personnel (including shelter and host home employees) must have had, or will be provided by the program initial training that meets the approval of the runaway program’s State Department of Health and Family Services Contractor.

A. 3. All paid and volunteer service personnel (including shelter and host home staff) participate in ongoing internal and/or external training, supervision, and development to further enhance their knowledge and ability to work with youth. In Second Chance Homes, training should include infant care and early child development, and effective parenting education.

A. 4. Agency personnel with responsibilities for supervision of the casework, counseling, and/or case management components have an advanced, post-high school (bachelor’s) degree in a human service related field and/or experience in working with youth and families.

A. 5. Personnel with supervisory responsibilities for overall program operations shall have, at a minimum, a bachelor’s degree in a human service related field and demonstrated ability and experience that qualifies them to assume such responsibility.

A. 6. All personnel have a written job description that at a minimum addresses the major tasks to be performed and the qualifications required for the position.

A. 7. The program has written procedures regarding employee evaluations and each employee receives written feedback from his/her immediate supervisor at least once per year.

A. 8. The program operates under an affirmative action/civil rights compliance plan.

A. 9. The program has a written staffing plan that is responsive to providing quality services.

A. 10. Case supervisors review current cases and individual service plans on a weekly basis (with relevant project staff) to ensure quality/coordinated services.



STANDARD:  The program shall have a local board of directors and/or a local advisory board that is representative of the communities it serves and is charged with review of the overall program policies and practices.


B. 1. The program maintains a mechanism by which a representative cross-section of the community, including youth, parents, and agency representatives offers input into the program.

B. 2. The program provides training to the Board of Directors and/or Advisory Body designed to orient the members to the program goals and objectives, as well as to the liabilities and responsibilities of the directors.

B. 3. The Board of Directors or Advisory Body annually reviews and/or approves the overall goals, objectives, contract compliance, and budget activities of the program (including the written plans developed under J. 2. And J. 5.)

B. 4. The Board of Directors and/or Advisory Body meets on a regular basis (at least quarterly) throughout the year to review program activities and progress.



STANDARD: The program will provide an individual intake with each youth seeking services. The program will ensure active client participation and informed consent.


C. 1. The program shall maintain a staff schedule indicating hours of intake availability.

C. 2. The program provides for the identification of emergency service needs of each youth and for the provision of the appropriate services either directly or through referrals to community agencies and individuals.

C. 3. The program explains the services that are available and the requirements for participation and secures a commitment for each youth to participate in program services prior to admitting the youth into the program.

C. 4. The program records basic background information on each youth “admitted” into the program and participates in applicable State and/or Federal data collection system.

C. 5. The program assigns primary responsibility to one staff member for coordinating the services provided to each youth.

C. 6. The program will notify the parent(s) or legal guardian if each minor youth provided housing within 12 hours. The program will follow the procedures pursuant to state statutes if parents are unavailable, or parental contact is a safety concern, and for housing the youth on a longer-term basis.

C. 7. The program has written procedures that provide for the release of youth.



STANDARD: The program will provide access to adequate food and temporary transitional housing to those youth requesting such services, in accordance with client intake practices (Section C) and within Wisconsin state guidelines for housing underage youth.


D. 1. When the service provides a housing component, it meets basic residential needs in a community based, open facility, assures a safe living environment, and provides an organized program of activities and case management. The program must possess the required state, Native American tribe, and local licenses.

D. 1. (a) The agency in providing, or arranging for, housing considers:

D. 1. (b) The agency limits the number of youth in a single residential location to the number designated on the program’s license.

D. 1. (c) The program provides housing for a period that does not exceed the stay allowable by state and two weeks during any given stay. The program must document any exceptions to this policy.

D. 2. When the program provides temporary foster care  it develops, organizes, and supervises a network of families who provide food and housing to clients. Foster families or host homes are approved and licensed by state and local regulatory agencies, or other bodies delegated the authority to perform this function.

D. 2. (a) When the agency’s clients are placed in foster families or host homes that operate under the jurisdiction of a child placing agency, there is a cooperative agreement between the agencies to assure that needs of youth, young parents, and their children and those of the foster families are adequately met.

D. 2. (b) A supervisor or other designated staff member is on call 24 hours per day to respond to emergency situations.



STANDARDThe program shall provide access to case management services (as appropriate), by trained staff to each youth, young parents, children admitted into the program.


E. 1. Individual and/or group case management is available daily to each youth, young parent, and their children who are admitted into the program.

E. 2. Access to pre/post natal care shall be provided.

E. 3. Basic life skills information, counseling, and training including budgeting, money management, use of credit, housekeeping, menu planning and food preparation, consumer education, leisure-time activities, transportation, and obtaining vital documents (Social Security card, birth certificate) will be provided.

E. 4. Educational advancement, such GED preparation and attainment, post-secondary training (college, technical school, military, etc.), and vocational education will be provided.

E. 5. Interpersonal skill building, such as developing positive relationships with peers and adults, effective communication, decision making, and stress management will be provided.

E. 6. Educational advancement, such as GED preparation and attainment, post-secondary training (college, technical school, military, etc.), and vocational education will be provided.

E. 7. Job preparation and attainment, such as career counseling, job preparation training, dress and grooming, job placement and job maintenance will be provided.

E. 8. Mental health care, such as counseling (individual and group), drug abuse education, prevention and referral services, and mental health counseling will be provided.

E. 9. Physical health care, such as routine physicals, health assessments, family planning and parenting skills, and emergency medical treatment will be provide.



STANDARD: The program shall maintain linkages with community agencies and individuals for the provision of those services that are required by youth and/or their families but that are not directly provided by the agency.


F. 1. Arrangements shall be made as appropriate with community agencies and individuals for the provision of alternative living arrangements, medical services, psychological and/or psychiatric services, legal services, and other assistance required by youth, young parents, and their children admitted into the program and/or by their families, which are not provided directly by the program. The program also conducts efforts directed toward establishing working relationships with law enforcement and other juvenile justice system personnel.



STANDARD: The program shall provide a continuity of services to all clients seen face to face and/or their families following the termination of housing. These services can be provided directly and/or through referrals to other agencies or individuals.


G. 1. Aftercare plans are developed upon resolution of the immediate crisis, with the voluntary participation of the clients and, whenever appropriate, the family, legal guardian, and significant others.

G. 2. The program has written procedures assuring the safe arrival home or to an alternate living arrangement for each youth, young parents, and their children following the termination of the services provided by the program.

G. 3. Aftercare plans are reviewed by the case supervisor prior to implementation.

G. 4. With the safety of the youth, young parents, and their children being primary consideration, the agency attempts to follow up at least once in the first 30-45 days after the client is no longer active with the agency to determine if there is any need for further service, to offer assistance in obtaining those services, and to evaluate the services that were provided.



STANDARDThe documentation necessary for the effective delivery of service will be kept up to date and the confidentiality of the clients will be maintained.


H. 1. The file maintained on each client should, at a minimum, include information required by federal and/or state agencies, including permanency plans, case notes, information on the services provided both directly and through referrals to community agencies and individual, disposition data, and any follow-up and evaluation data that are compiled.

H. 2. The file on each client shall be maintained by the project in a secure place and shall not be disclosed without the written permission of the client and his/her parent(s) or legal guardian as appropriate except to project staff and other agencies as required by law.



STANDARD: The program will engage in activities that enhance program visibility and create a greater awareness of the problems addressed and the services provided by the agency.


I. 1. The program can document accessibility to the services it offers.

I. 2. The program can document a working relationship with the departments of social/human services and other relevant social service providers in the counties served.

I. 3. The program can document a working relationship with the schools in the service area.

I. 4. The program has distributed informational material to agencies and individuals likely to encounter youth, young parents, and their children.

I. 5. The program conducts ongoing community education for the purpose of outreach, prevention, and public awareness.

I. 6. The program advocates for youth, young parents, and their children through membership in organizations, networking, coalition building, or other efforts.



STANDARD: Ongoing program planning and evaluation will be conducted with the involvement of relevant personnel with the resources available.


J. 1. The program has written goals and objectives for its services that are consistent with its commitment to the client and the community.

J. 2. The program reviews the case management, housing, and aftercare needs of youth, young parents, and their children in the area served by the project and the existing services that are available to meet these needs, on at least an annual basis.

J. 3. The program reviews and revises as appropriate, its goals, objectives, and activities based upon the data generated through the review of youth, young parent, and their children’s needs, existing services, and the follow up evaluations on at least an annual basis.

J. 4. The program conducts an ongoing evaluation of its services to the youth, young parents, and their children and the families it serves.

J. 5. The program exhibits due regard for client privacy in conducting and reporting its evaluation.

J. 6. The project’s planning process shall be open to paid and volunteer staff, youth, and members of the Board of Directors and/or Advisory Body.



STANDARD: The program shall demonstrate its ability to operate under accounting procedures and fiscal control devices as required by state and federal agencies.


K. 1. The agency budget items are in accordance with the state allowable cost and guidelines.

K. 2. The agency maintains a double entry accounting system.

K. 3. The agency participates in an annual audit by a certified public accountant.

K. 4. The agency maintains adequate liability insurance as evidenced by current policies covering:


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WAHRS • Patricia Balke • pbalke.wahrs@gmail.com • 608-241-2649

WAHRS • Patricia Balke