Richard's Colleague Letter to the Field

The 9/11 ceremonies and remembrances this past weekend brought into focus how much our world has changed in the last 10 years. Today’s economic uncertainty, debilitating unemployment and unrelenting home foreclosure rates threaten to create a category of "new poor" – those individuals and families who were formerly middle class. Not since the Great Depression has the need for exceptional social services been so great, and COA is committed to working with you to meet these challenges.

COA’s Physical Move

In May, COA moved into our new offices at 45 Broadway. Packing and going through old files, many of us were reminded of all those who contributed to our growth and evolution during the 15 years we were at our prior home. Our past board chairs – George Hubbard, Sharon Osborne, Neil Newstein and Sr. Ann Patrick Conrad – and my predecessors – David Liederman and Mike Danjczek – each played a unique and significant role in advancing COA’s mission, evolution, and growth. Together with our current board chair, Tim Noelker, they have made possible today’s vision of COA.

But vision is not enough; it must be combined with venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps; we must step up the stairs. In moving to the 29th floor, we are literally and figuratively committed to stepping up.

COA’s Virtual Move

The move to our new office symbolizes the launch of a re-envisioned COA, a COA that will continue to reflect the challenges faced by you – our partner organizations and volunteers – and the individuals and families you serve.

To do this, we are using the web to create more synergies within the process. Work is well underway to build a new and improved MyCOA web portal for organizations and a new Volunteer Information Portal (VIP) for our 1,000 volunteers. Each will provide a simpler, more intuitive web structure, and design that integrates all of our websites on one platform.

In so doing, the new web portal will enhance communications, significantly streamline the accreditation process, and reduce staff time by allowing the application, program
 
assignment forms, and self-study to be completed online. Similarly, the Volunteer Information Portal will enable our volunteers to interactively search and sign up for site visits as well as complete and submit rating sheets on the web.

Additional information about the website and portals, along with a list of features and the launch date, will be announced later this fall.

Department of Defense

In the next few weeks, we will launch a pilot project to accredit social service programs provided at seven major military installations using nationally recognized standards of best practice and a process that reflects the unique military culture. Given the stress that military personnel and their families are experiencing as a result of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, we view this pilot and its subsequent expansion as part of both our mission and our patriotic duty. To meet this challenge, we need your help. Please consider volunteering to be trained to serve as a Peer Reviewer of military programs. To learn more, please contact Mike Providence, Volunteer Management & Support Coordinator, or toll free at (866) 262-8088 extension 288.

Hague Renewal

The U.S. Department of State renewed COA’s designation as the sole national accrediting entity with regard to the Intercountry Adoption Act and the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption for another five years. COA currently accredits/approves 201 adoption service providers (ASPs) under the act. In a recent communication, the Department of State recognized COA as being “instrumental in the effort to strengthen protections to ensure that intercountry adoption takes place in the best interests of children and to prevent their abduction, sale or exploitation.” We take this responsibility very seriously, as reflected in the fact that we recently suspended the accreditation of two ASPs for failing to substantially comply with the standards and required a corrective action plan of four others. As we move forward with a robust 2012 reaccreditation schedule, your help is needed. Please consider becoming a Hague Evaluator. Learn more by contacting Mike Providence, Volunteer Management & Support Coordinator, or toll free at (866) 262-8088 extension 288.

COA’s 2012 Conference

We are pleased to announce that COA’s 2012 National Conference – Fulfilling the Promise, will be held on August 5, 6, & 7 in New York City. The conference will serve as a forum for you to exchange important information and share ideas on ways to sustain mission, maintain excellence and better serve your clients in difficult times. Please consider submitting a workshop proposal by September 30th by visiting www.coastandards.org/Conference/Call_for_Proposals_Guidelines_for_Submission.pdf.

COA and BACW

COA and the Black Administrators in Child Welfare, Inc. (BACW) received a $200,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to implement an accreditation initiative that addresses racial disparities in child welfare service delivery and outcomes. This two year project proposes to blend BACW best practice strategies for reducing racial disproportionality into COA’s 8th Edition Accreditation Standards. The goal is to identify the systematic factors affecting disproportionality and integrate racial equity in agency vision, decision-making and policies. The W.K. Kellogg Foundation is in the process of finalizing a contract with the Howard University School of Social Work to act as the researcher and evaluator of the project.

In Memoriam

The sudden death last month of Peter Goldberg, President and CEO of the Alliance for Children and Families, one of COA’s 13 Sponsoring Organizations, was a loss to all who knew him and to our field. Peter was a champion for those less fortunate and a staunch supporter of excellence. He was also a good friend to many of you and me and is greatly missed. A book of the tributes to Peter can be viewed on the Alliance’s website at http://alliance1.org/sites/default/files/PDF/goldberg_tribute_book.pdf


And finally...

September 11th marked my 10th anniversary as President & CEO of COA. In all my professional years, my work at COA has been the most enjoyable and fulfilling. I owe that to each of you and to the COA board and staff, past and present. I thank you more than I can express for giving me this opportunity of a lifetime.

Sincerely,

Richard Klarberg
President & CEO