Accreditation

COA is an international, independent, not-for-profit, child and family service and behavioral healthcare accrediting organization. It was founded in 1977 by the Child Welfare League of America and Family Service America (now the Alliance for Children and Families). Originally known as an accrediting body for family and children’s agencies, COA currently accredits over 45 different service areas. Among the service areas are substance abuse treatment, adult day care, services for the homeless, foster care, and inter-country adoption.

In addition to standards for private social service and behavioral health care organizations, COA has developed separate business lines for public agencies, networks and lead management entities, opioid treatment programs, employee assistance programs, and financial management/debt counseling services.

COA views accreditation as a catalyst for change that builds on an organization’s strengths and helps it achieve better results in all areas. The accreditation process is designed to meet the needs of diverse organizations. An organization is evaluated against best-practice standards, which are developed using a consensus model with input from a wide range of service providers, funders, experts, policymakers and consumers.

In 2005, COA accredited or was in the process of accrediting more than 1,500 private and public organizations that serve more that 7 million individuals and families in the United States, Canada, Bermuda, Puerto Rico, England and the Philippines. The accreditation process is designed to meet the needs of diverse organizations–voluntary, public and proprietary, local and statewide, large and small. Currently, 34% of COA-accredited agencies have a budget of less than $2 million; the budget of another 44% is between $2 and $10 million.