Richard's Colleague Letter to the Field

Although the lengthy stoppage of COA’s email, internet and phone services resulting from Hurricane Sandy was challenging and stressful, your patience, understanding and words of support were greatly appreciated.

Of course, the disruptions we encountered were nothing as compared to the challenges faced by those of you who are responding to the needs of individuals and families in the hardest hit communities. Your tireless efforts are truly heroic and reflect, once again, the vital role human service professionals play in times of crisis.

COA’s Additional Goal

While facilitating and validating the quality of an organization and the services it provides has always been and remains our primary goal, the significant new challenges facing the human service field have motivated us to adopt an additional goal: to use our accreditation standards and process as a catalyst to heighten your awareness of emerging issues and provide you with the capacity to respond to them.

Human Trafficking 

In that regard, when you told us about the growing incidence of children and young people who are victims of human trafficking, we convened a group of national experts and included in our standards critical measures that can be used to identify those young people who are especially vulnerable and detail best practices to prevent their victimization. 

In addition, we are taking an advocacy role with governmental bodies to raise awareness of this problem and also working to educate the field about important practices related to its prevention, identification, and response.  

As part of this education process, in partnership with Love146, a non-profit human rights organization that works toward the abolition of child sex trafficking and exploitation, we are offering free live webinars on the topic of human trafficking. They are available to anyone interested in learning more about this issue and how to respond in their community. Please visit our website at for upcoming dates in 2013.

Service Members and Veterans Affairs

Similarly, we have modified our standards to address another emerging social issue: how community-based organizations can best meet the special needs of the growing number of military service members and veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and their families. Building on our work with the Department of Defense and in partnership with the Council on Social Work Education and other experts, we released additions to our standards which provide meaningful guidance on how to appropriately and effectively support our nation’s heroes and their families. 

As a result, COA is now recognized by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for Supportive Services for Veterans and Families (SSVF). Under the SSVF program, VA will award grants to accredited organizations that can provide supportive services to very low-income Veteran families living in or transitioning to permanent housing. This recognition is an important part of our continuing commitment to identify funding opportunities that support your mission.  If your organization is interested in applying for a SSVF grant, please visit

Other Challenges

Not all of the challenges you face are human.  New funding and practice regulations pose a different type of challenge.  So in response to mandates to integrate primary and behavioral health care, we have released the Integrated Behavioral Health and Primary Care Supplement (INT) to ensure that COA accredited organizations are prepared to take full advantage of these initiatives and remain competitive in our rapidly changing environment. You can review these standards by visiting

MyCOA and VIP: Web-based Accreditation

We are extremely pleased by the enthusiastic reception of our new MyCOA web portal and the Volunteer Information Portal (VIP). These technologies result in your staff having to spend less time aggregating documents for your self-study and responding to your Pre-Commission Report. They also significantly enhance our ability to communicate and share information with you.  Over time, we will continue to add and improve the features and functionality in the portals to best meet your needs.   To learn more go to

Essential Learning

COA’s special relationship with Essential Learning is moving forward. We will be announcing a series of new trainings designed by Essential Learning after the first of the year. We have already completed two self-paced trainings (“An Introduction to COA Accreditation” and “COA Accreditation: Getting Started”) and will continue to introduce new courses in 2013. These trainings are designed to facilitate your accreditation experience and can be accessed free of charge any time through our Training Calendar at 

COA’s Chair-Elect

At its recent annual meeting, the COA Board of Trustees unanimously elected Markus Trice as chair-elect to succeed our current chair, Tim Noelker, in January 2014.  Markus has served on the COA Board since 2008 and has lead and participated in several committees including the Audit Committee and the Finance Committee He has extensive experience on national and local non-profit boards and is committed to supporting you and the work that you do.

New Trustees

It is also my pleasure to welcome to our board Sara Manzano-Díaz and Christopher Leung.  Sara was appointed by President Obama in May 2012 to serve as Regional Administrator for the U.S. General Services Administration’s Mid-Atlantic Region. Prior to that, she was Director of the Women’s Bureau in the Department of Labor. 

Chris Leung is well known to many of you having previously served as a COA trustee, Accreditation Commissioner and Team Leader. Prior to retiring in August 2012, he was the Chief Executive Officer of Catholic Charities in Alberta, Canada for over ten years. 

In Closing…

As I look ahead to the serious challenges the human services field will face in 2013, I can assure you that we will continue to work in partnership with you by ensuring that COA accreditation remains valuable, relevant and instrumental in supporting your mission.     

On behalf of the COA board and staff, I wish you a joyous holiday season and best wishes for a happy and peaceful 2013. 



Richard Klarberg

President & CEO


Private Organization Accreditation

Children's Home Society of Florida delivers a unique spectrum of social services designed to protect children at risk of abuse, neglect or abandonment; to strengthen and stabilize families; to help young people break the cycle of abuse and neglect; and to find safe, loving homes for children.


Brewer-Porch Children's Center

James W. Thompson, Executive Director

The COA standards as applied to the operations at Brewer-Porch Children’s Center at The University of Alabama has given the administration an opportunity to examine best practice and improve the quality of care provided to clients.
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