Accreditation Overview

What is Accreditation?

The formal evaluation of an organization or program against best practice standards. It is both a status and a process:

As a Status
It signifies that an organization or program meets standards of quality set forth by the accrediting body.

As a Process
It involves an in-depth self-review of an organization or program against currently accepted best practice standards, an onsite visit by an evaluation team comprised of experts, and a subsequent review and decision by the accrediting body.

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What is a Standard?

A statement that articulates a level of quality developed by subject matter experts that will be implemented and maintained by an organization or program pursuing accreditation and an accredited organization or program.

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Value of COA Accreditation

Accreditation signifies that an organization or program is effectively managing its resources and providing the best possible services to all of its stakeholders.


  • Services meet best practice standards
  • Services are delivered by appropriately trained staff
  • Clients participate in the decision-making process of service delivery
  • Services are provided in a safe and respectful environment
  • Privacy is protected
  • Services support positive outcomes
  • Services are culturally competent


  • Health and safety are protected
  • Risk and liability are minimized
  • Service environments are efficient, effective, and supported by a quality improvement-oriented culture
  • Professional staff qualifications are defined
  • Whistleblower Policy is in place
  • Performance evaluation system is in place


  • Sound financial management practices are in place
  • Practices are ethical
  • Strategic plan is current, relevant, and monitored
  • Effective performance quality improvement and risk management systems in place
  • Policies and procedures address conflict of interests, preferential treatment, accountability, and delegation of authority

Donors, Funders, Regulators

  • Validation of the delivery of high quality services
  • Sound financial practices are in place
  • Performance and quality improvement system is in place
  • Organizational operations are efficient
  • Risk management policies and mechanisms that prevent fraud are in place
  • Can be used as a tool to identify grant recipients

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Recognition Report

We have pursued recognition of COA accreditation from entities that fund and/or license human service organizations and programs including:

  • Government entities
  • Foundations
  • Managed care organizations 
  • Insurance companies

Currently, COA is recognized in over 200 instances in 49 states, the District of Columbia, two Canadian provinces, and China. View our Recognition Report for a complete listing of all COA’s recognitions.

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Don’t take our word for it – find out why over 2,200 organizations and programs have chosen COA.

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Accreditation Programs

COA accredits the full continuum of child welfare, behavioral health, and community-based social services. Please follow the links below for more information about COA’s accreditation programs, including a list of services that are covered by each program and a description of the accreditation process.

We have separate Accreditation Programs for:

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Who is Accredited?

Search accredited organizations and programs by service, region and/or name.

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Contact COA

Ready to apply for accreditation? Have questions? Get in touch!

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Private Organization Accreditation

Lutheran Social Services of New England is a high-performing nonprofit organization. LSS is a powerful difference maker and go-to resource, driving ourselves to constantly anticipate futures that are different from the past. For 140 years, LSS has been caring for people in need in New England.


Judy Kay, LCSW

Volunteer Roles: Peer Reviewer; Team Leader

In administration for 22 of 24 years at Child Saving Institute, a COA-accredited not-for-profit child welfare agency in Omaha, Nebraska. Retired approximately two years ago, I moved to Tucson, Arizona, where I advocate for children's rights as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer to three young children.
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