Child and Youth Development (CYD) Program Accreditation

Child and Youth Development (CYD) Program Accreditation is the accreditation of services for early childhood education (ECE), after school (ASP, SAC & OST), and youth development (YD) programs, and involves the review of the program’s services and administrative operations.

For information about the meaning and value of accreditation, see the Accreditation Overview page.


  • Four-year accreditation
  • In-depth review of the program’s services and administration and management functions
  • User-friendly, online process
  • Process typically takes 9-12 months
  • An Accreditation Coordinator assists the program through the process
  • Standards and accreditation materials are free
  • Programs apply and are accredited independent of other programs, even within the same organization

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Value of COA Accreditation

Accreditation signifies that a program is effectively managing its resources and providing the best possible services to all of its stakeholders. Review the Value of Child & Youth Development Program Accreditation fact sheet for more details.

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Timeline and Process

Most programs are able to complete the entire accreditation process in approximately 9-12 months. It is COA’s experience that this time frame provides sufficient opportunity for the active involvement of all stakeholders (such as children/youth, parents, staff, and other stakeholders) and sufficient time for the program to plan for, and implement, growth-promoting change.

Review the Child & Youth Development Program Process Overview for more details.

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Standards for CYD Programs

The Standards for Child and Youth Development programs are divided into two parts:

  • Administration and Management Standards (Human Resources and Administration)
  • Service Standards

COA’s standards are web-based and can be accessed at any time. View the standards.

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Eligibility Criteria

COA makes a preliminary determination of eligibility after it receives a completed application from a program.

Read the Eligibility Criteria for CYD Programs.

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Fee Information

The cost of accreditation varies based on a program’s size and services. Fees associated with a four-year accreditation cycle include an application fee, accreditation fee, Site Visit costs, and maintenance of accreditation fees.

Read the Fee Information for CYD programs.

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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 47 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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Further Reading and Recommended Trainings

Accreditation Guidelines

For in-depth detail regarding the accreditation process, download and review the Accreditation Guidelines.

Recommended Trainings

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Request an Information Kit

Interested in learning more? Request an information kit.

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Private Organization Accreditation

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


Harry Hunter, MSW, MBA, Ph.D.

Volunteer Roles: Peer Reviewer; Team Leader

Peer Reviewer for the month of January 2013, Dr. Hunter has been volunteering for COA since 2005, conducting five site reviews.
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