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Posted August 1, 2002 

Principles of Good Practice
Submitted by
The National Association of Schools and Programs
Jan Moss, Executive Director
126 North Marina, Suite 3
Prescott, AZ 86301
Phone: 928-442-3042
Fax: 928-442-3042

The following principles of good practice have been unanimously adopted by the board of directors of the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs as basic principles of practice ascribed to by member programs and schools. Full members certify compliance with the practice principles while associate members aspire to these principles, but are not yet in full compliance. The intent of this statement of practice principles is to raise the general level of operating practice within therapeutic programs and schools.

These guidelines refer to therapeutic programs and emotional growth schools as “program/schools” and refer to client/students as “program participants“.


The program/school shall adhere to all applicable state and federal laws in conducting the operation, including administration, hiring and employee practices, observance of safety regulations, and the care of program participants.


The program/school has a responsibility and duty to strive to provide its program participants with appropriate ethical and professional service in all areas of operations.

2.1 The program/school will have a written plan for governance, program administration, and professional services. The Plan includes the following elements.

2.1.1 Introduction and history of the program/school.

2.1.2 A delineation of the responsibility of the governing body including, policy development, responsibility for implementation, compliance, amendment, and oversight of the policies.

2.1.3 Mission Statement.

2.1.4 Philosophy of the program/school.

2.1.5 Description of the population the program/school serves, including admission, non-admission and discharge criteria.

2.1.6 Description of services provided.

2.1.7 Organizational Structure including an organizational chart.

2.1.8 Tuition / Fee statement including all ancillary cost, and refund policy.

2.1.9 A plan for self-evaluation and program/school improvement.

2.2 The program/school shall have proof of general liability, professional liability, fire, and vehicle insurance coverage as appropriate.

2.3 The program/school will follow accepted accounting practices.

2.4 Member schools/programs will:

2.4.1 Not offer or accept payment for referrals.

2.4.2 Represent facts truthfully to program participants and third- party payers.

2.4.3 Disclose fully all costs and fees for service.

2.4.4 Respect copyrights, trade authorship, and proprietary information, and will not plagiarize or use materials, documents, or resources from other sources or programs without permission.

2.4.5 Not use a name or marketing strategy that misleads the public or makes guarantees of outcome to consumers.

2.4.6 Disclose fully all ownership and financial relationships between associated programs, services, and professionals where there is a potential for a conflict of interest.


The program/school will only provide services (including assessment services), that lie within the scope of the service, training and qualifications of its staff. The program/school will accurately and factually represent the competence, education, training, certification and experience of its employees. NATSAP members will not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.

3.1 Hiring Practices

3.1.1 Applicants are required to complete an Application for Employment. The application form must include the following: Previous place(s) of employment. Signature, verifying that all information is correct and factual.

3.1.2 Upon extending an offer for employment, the program/school will obtain: A criminal background check including driving history. A minimum of two professional references (written or verbal). Proof of professional credentials. A medical examination or statement signed by the employee assuring fitness to execute the physical and mental requirements delineated in the job description. If the employee is required to drive a company vehicle, or is asked to transport program participants in his/her own car, the Department of Motor Vehicle will be contacted to determine that the respective employee has a valid driver license.

3.2 On-Going Employee Practices

3.2.1 Each employee will have a written job description. The job description will include the following: Job title. Duties and responsibilities. Minimum level of education, training and work experience required for the position. Physical demands of the position. Lines of authority. (Delineation of supervisory responsibility)

3.2.2 The program/school shall have written Employee Policies and Procedures that will include policies on: New Employee orientation procedures including: Orientation in philosophy, objectives and services. Emergency procedures. (Fire, Disaster, etc.). Current program/school policy and procedures including behavior management. First aid and CPR training. Statutory responsibilities, including those covered by state and federal laws. Continuing staff training and development. Performance appraisals. Methods for filing and addressing employee grievances. Disciplinary actions, termination, and discharge practices. Sexual and other forms of harassment or misconduct. Abuse reporting laws Vacations, holidays, illness, extended leave, military leave, and jury duty. Volunteers, interns, and contract personnel if applicable. Confidentiality and information disclosure within the limits recognized by appropriate professional standards, including state and federal regulation. Transporting program participants and their parents/guardians. Prevention and investigation of allegations levied by program participants regarding employee misconduct.

3.3 Personnel File

3.3.1 The program/school will maintain a personnel file on each employee that includes: Application and/or resume Background clearance. Proof of credentials including education, licensure, certifications, etc. as applicable. Proof of medical examination or statement of ability to perform duties. Signed job description. Documentation of new employee orientation and ongoing staff development training. Performance evaluation(s). Emergency contact information. Documentation of disciplinary actions, termination or discharge. Signed confidentiality agreement regarding the exchange of information concerning program participants, their families, and fellow workers. Copy of driver’s license (if employee is required to drive a company vehicle as part of the job). Documentation of employment status e.g., hourly, salary, part-time, full time, exempt, non-exempt, etc.


The program/school will have a written Admission Policy, which defines the enrollment criteria and delineates inclusion and exclusion criteria. Such criteria will be consistent with the mission of the program/school. Admission forms will provide pertinent history including family, medical, psychiatric, developmental, and educational background information.

4.1 The Admissions screening process will examine the physical, emotional, behavioral, and academic history, in order to determine whether the program is appropriate in light of the prospective participant’s needs and limitations

4.2 The program/school will provide program participants, parents, legal guardians, or other pertinent parties with a clear and informed statement of the nature of the services that will be provided including, risks associated with these services.

4.3 Upon admission, a file will be created for each program participant, containing the following:

4.3.1 Demographic information including emergency contact information.

4.3.2 Basic medical, family, behavioral, legal, educational, information including past and current assessments.

4.3.3 A signed statement indicating receipt of a copy of the student handbook or statement of Participants Rights and Responsibilities, or a witness attesting to the participant’s refusal to sign.

4.3.4 Contract, release and consent forms.

4.3.5 Documentation of communication with parents, legal guardians, payer sources and other parties.

4.3.6 Photograph.

4.3.7 Copy of any grievance filings and action taken.

4.3.8 Documentation of services rendered.

4.3.9 Discharge summary and academic transcripts

4.4 The program/school will conduct on going assessment to determine appropriateness of continued placement.

4.5 Upon termination or discharge of a program participant, the program/school will make appropriate recommendations for continuing care and/or education.


5.1 The program/school shall have a written Behavior Management Plan which describes:

5.1.1 How human dignity and rights will be respected in the application of behavior management practices.

5.1.2 Special treatment / intervention processes including such techniques as: seclusion, restraint, therapeutic holding, passive holding.

5.1.3 Procedures for handling emergency situations such as suicidality, abuse, assault, and runaway.

5.1.4 Acceptable and non-acceptable consequences.

5.1.5 On going training procedures for employees.


6.1 The program/school will have a written Student Handbook or statement of Program Participant Rights and Responsibilities as appropriate to the setting, purposes, and pertinent state and federal law. Such manual or statement will include statements regarding the following rights:

6.1.1 To receive care or services within the program’s capability, mission, and applicable law and regulations.

6.1.2 Freedom from discrimination.

6.1.3 The expectation of a safe environment with respect of human dignity.

6.1.4 Respect for privacy of information and records of each individual and family served.

6.1.5 A description of any restrictions in communication or visitation.

6.1.6 A description of privileges and limitations for participants.

6.1.7 A description of access to religious services and practices.

6.1.8 A statement indicating that the program/school retains the right to maintain a contraband free environment and a description of any search or testing procedures used in this effort.

6.1.9 Procedures for student/participant grievance and complaint will be clearly outlined along with a statement guaranteeing freedom from retaliation for making complaints.

6.1.10 A diet that is nutritionally sufficient for age and activity level.


7.1 The program/school will have a policy on health care that addresses the following issues:

7.1.1 Access to appropriate medical care.

7.1.2 Delineation of whom is authorized to dispense medications.

7.1.3 A policy on storing, accounting, and security of medication.


8.1 The program/school shall have Plant, Technology and Safety Policies and Procedures containing the following:

8.1.1 A fire and disaster plan which includes the following:

8.1.2 Delineating responsibility of all employees in the event of fire or other disasters

8.1.3 A description of available emergency services, escape routes, relocation plans, and other contingency plans.

8.1.4 Documentation of all fire and emergency drills.

8.1.5 Policies concerning staff training for emergencies and access to emergency medical care.

8.1.6 A safety committee who will be responsible for risk management as well as training and implementation of emergent procedures.

8.2 A policy or procedure for equipment maintenance and repair

8.3 An Infectious Disease Control policy


9.1 The program/school will have an Incident Reporting policy and procedures, including a reporting mechanism to the governing body.

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