Innovative Practices Award 2017

The Innovative Practices Award identifies, documents, and celebrates examples of successful approaches to management and service delivery practices adopted by our accredited organizations. Too often great ideas are kept in-house, without recognizing their potential to create change beyond. The purpose of the Innovative Practices Award is to amplify the effect of one great idea by elevating it to the national stage and offering it as a resource for direct service providers, leadership, researchers, and advocates across the full spectrum of human services.  

This year's evaluation process began with a preliminary round of submissions in which applicants provided a one-page synopsis of their innovative practice. Thereafter, a committee made up of COA volunteers and staff selected 13 finalists from over 70 submissions to move forward with a full case study. 

Congratulations to the following 2017 Innovative Practices Award winners!


Caroline County Department of Social Services 
Re-Engaging Individuals through Successful Employment

In the mid-shore region of Maryland’s Eastern Shore there are consistent barriers faced by non-custodial parents – a parent who does not have legal custody of their child by court order – face that prevent them from obtaining and retaining employment, thus unable to pay their court ordered child support. To address this, Caroline County Department of Social Services launched the RISE program which helps non-custodial parents remove barriers to steady employment (eg lack of transportation), and provides occupational training and retention services.  Since it began two years ago, over 300 non-custodial parents have gained full employment in the five-county Mid-Shore through the occupational training program, and child support payments have subsequently increased. 

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GreenPath, Inc.
Building Successful Nonprofit/FinTech Partnerships 

In pursuit of engaging more clients in long-term financial wellness programs, GreenPath collaborated with EarnUp, a Financial Technology (FinTech) company, to create the Simple Payment Plan (SPP) – a debt repayment solution that intelligently automates and accelerates payments by aligning them with a person’s pay schedule and due dates. The pilot resulted in a win-win-win partnership for clients, GreenPath, and Earnup and is a model for future nonprofit/FinTech partnerships. 


The Children’s Village
Family Finding Program

In recent years the Children’s Village (CV) was finding that the majority of youth referred to their residential campus through the foster care system had no connections or contact with their immediate or extended family members. Determined to reunite the loneliest and most isolated youth in their care with their families, CV adopted the Family Finding Program Model.  Since its inception, the CV Family Finding Program has seen high rates of success, with 50% of youth in the program, all of whom started with no connections, discharged to a family member and 90% connected to a to a family member who is committed to remaining in contact with the youth through visits or phone calls.

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Honorable Mentions 

Catholic Charities of Buffalo

Lincoln Families




Private Organization Accreditation

Heartland for Children is the not-for-profit agency responsible for the foster care system in Polk, Highlands, and Hardee Counties.


Bonnie Bagley

Volunteer Roles: Evaluator; Lead Evaluator; Peer Reviewer; Team Leader

I have found that being a COA Volunteer builds my professional skills and experience in ways that more traditional workshops do not. The opportunity to learn about best practices through the COA standards and then see how agencies implement them is truly a growth experience.
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