NEW National Accreditation Standards for Public Agencies

COA releases standards that provide a detailed roadmap for public agencies seeking to increase effectiveness as they strive to improve outcomes for the individuals, families, and communities they serve.

"These new standards have been developed with the needs and realities of the
functioning of today’s public human services agency in mind to promote
effective service delivery and the achievement of positive outcomes for
individuals and families. They reflect the role of the public agency to provide
mandated and voluntary services and work in partnership with community
agencies to serve the needs of consumers in an accountable and effective way."

Crystal Collins-Camargo, MSW PHD, COA Public Agency Advisory Committee Member;
Professor, Kent School of Social Work, University of Louisville


"Thank you COA leadership, staff, and other colleagues for the dedication and
expertise that produced this comprehensive vision and voice for everyone
committed to implementing excellent best practices. As a COA peer reviewer,
social work educator, curriculum developer, trainer, and foster and adoptive
parent, I have enormous respect for this endeavor.  The Child and Family
Services section is especially essential to help children thrive in safe, nurturing,
and enduring families."

Eileen Mayers Pasztor,  DSW, COA Public Agency Advisory Committee Member;
Consultant/Trainer, CWLA Washington, DC; Professor, School of Social Work,
California State University, Long Beach, Long Beach, CA 

COA is pleased to announce the release of new Standards for Public Agencies, including new and significantly revised Administration and Management and Service Delivery Administration Standards and a comprehensive, new Child and Family Services section (PA-CFS). The standards provide a detailed roadmap for agencies seeking to increase their effectiveness as they strive to improve outcomes for the individuals, families, and communities they serve. 

Administration & Management and Service Delivery Administration Standards

As part of its work on the Administration and Management and Service Delivery Administration Standards, COA identified a core set of research-based domains, called the ‘Effectiveness Domains,’ which provided the foundation for the research and development of the new standards. Each of the Effectiveness Domains represents an administrative area that, when attended to with attention to quality and sustainability, will support improved agency effectiveness.  

THE DOMAINS
Workforce Development & Support
Quality Improvement & System Collaboration
Community Engagement & Consumer Responsiveness
Safety Promotion & Risk Management
Leadership & Administration

Grounded in the above domains, the new Administration and Management and Service Delivery Administration Standards include new and enhanced content in the following areas:

  • Strategic workforce development, including leadership and supervisor development and competency-based personnel development and human resources practices 
  • Establishing data-informed decision-making processes at the worker, agency, and system levels
  • Leading, implementing, and sustaining agency-wide change 
  • System collaboration including system-wide quality improvement, contract monitoring, and resource development
  • Durable strategies for ongoing community collaboration and consumer engagement in agency decision-making and planning 
  • Leadership, communication, and collaboration in state-administered public human services agencies 

The following sections were updated as part of this work: Administration and Management (PA-AM), Performance and Quality Improvement (PA-PQI), Risk Prevention and Management (PA-RPM), Administrative and Service Environment (PA-ASE), Human Resources Management (PA-HR), Financial Management (PA-FIN), and Training and Supervision (PA-TS).

Child and Family Services Standards

COA merged and enhanced its standards for Child Protective Services (PA-CPS), Family Foster Care and Kinship Care (PA-FKC), Adoption Services (PA-AS), and Guardianship Services for Minors (PA-GSM) to create the new Child and Family Services Standards (PA-CFS). 

The new PA-CFS standards reflect the continuum of public child and family services; eliminate redundancy and overlap in areas such as assessment and service planning; emphasize the importance of strengthening families and promoting child safety, permanency, and well-being; and supports agencies as they work to improve agency performance on the CFSR Outcomes Measures.

The PA-CFS standards include new or enhanced content related to:

  • Family engagement 
  • Community and system collaboration
  • Safety planning and risk assessment
  • Comprehensive assessment and service planning 
  • Stabilizing, supporting, and strengthening families
  • Promoting the development and well-being of children, including facilitating normalcy for children in out-of-home care
  • Trauma-informed casework and administrative practice
  • Mental health assessment, services, and psychotropic medication monitoring
  • Services and supports for pregnant and parenting youth
  • Reunification planning and support
  • Quality worker contact and home visiting for both in-home and out-of-home cases
  • Resource parent and family recruitment


The Public Agency Accreditation Advisory Committee

COA would like to acknowledge the dedicated work of the Public Agency Accreditation Advisory Committee members who collectively provided the expert knowledge and field perspective needed to ensure that the standards establish rigorous and realistic expectations for how public agencies operate and engage with their communities. 

The Advisory Committee includes many of COA’s valued stakeholders from our Board of Trustees, accredited public agencies, peer reviewers, and accreditation commissioners, as well as representatives from the following organizations including: 

  • American Public Human Services Association
  • Brown School of Social Work, Washington University in St. Louis
  • Child Welfare League of America 
  • Casey Family Programs 
  • Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago 
  • Annie E. Casey Foundation 
  • California State University, Long Beach School of Social Work 
  • Kent School of Social Work at the University of Louisville
  • The National Center for Evidence-Based Practice at the University of Maryland
  • NYU School of Medicine
  • University of Alaska Anchorage 


Implementation, Training, and Support 

Agencies with a COA Accreditation expiration date after January 31, 2018 will be required to implement the new standards in their upcoming reaccreditation process. 

Later this year, agencies and peer reviewers will receive notification for upcoming trainings on the new standards. Additionally, a suite of tools and other resources will be made available including update summary documents that will identify the significant changes made to each section.  


Contact Us

Questions regarding the new Standards for Public Agencies can be directed to Melissa Dury, Associate Director of Standards Development.  

Questions regarding the requirement to implement the new standards after January 31, 2018 can be directed to Katie Bourgault, Associate Director of Public Agency Accreditation.

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