COA would like to share the best of what we’ve learned from working with service providers like you about how to prepare for accreditation, approval, or renewal.
- Assign chapters or sections of standards to a staff member who will be responsible for ensuring the appropriate implementation of the standards and who will gather evidence of compliance. Most adoption service providers have more than one person involved in the review and implementation of standards, but COA suggests that one person be designated as ultimately accountable for each chapter or section.
- Conduct training for team members on how to use the standards to assess current practice. Training should include: the structure of the standards, how to read and use the Tables of Evidence and other charts and tools within each section, and advice and suggestions on how to write narratives. Training should also include how to evaluate your level of compliance.
- Assign a timeframe for each team to conduct a “self-assessment” of their assigned sections, including an assessment of required documentation and review of all standards and assignment of a “preliminary rating” for each.
- Of special note: Remember that achieving Hague accreditation or approval is only possible when you have demonstrated clear evidence of compliance with the standards. Interviews conducted by the on-site Evaluator Team are extremely important as they reveal the extent to which policies and procedures have been operationalized. Mock interviewing can help staff feel prepared to engage in site visit activities.
- Develop corrective action plans for standards you identify as “non-compliant.” Feedback suggests that formalizing corrective action plans, including the assignment of a responsible individual with timeframes and clear expectations of the work to be done, can help ensure the timeline is met.
- Re-evaluate. At some point after the development and implementation of the corrective action plans, go back and have your assigned individuals or teams re-evaluate evidence of compliance with the standards. See if the areas identified as challenges have been addressed.
- Start pulling it all together. All of the pre- and on-site documentation from the Tables of Evidence must be organized and prepared either to be submitted in the self-study or to be available on-site for the Evaluator Team. The main components that you need to ensure are included are narratives, documents, and any forms that are required in each section of the standards.
- Consider conducting a “mock site visit.” Mock site visits are extremely effective in helping to assess your readiness for accreditation, approval, or renewal. Mock site visits can include case record review and extensive interviews with staff to ascertain compliance with the standards. Used at the beginning of the process, a mock site visit can help assess where your most significant gaps are and help triage and define where you will need to invest the most amount of resources and staff time.
- Develop and stick to your timeline! By developing a timeline that incorporates key deadlines as delineated in your timetable with COA, you can help your staff stay focused and ensure that you do not feel pressured as deadlines near.
Private Organization Accreditation
Money Management International is a nationwide nonprofit organization that provides counseling and education related to credit, housing and bankruptcy, and offers debt management assistance if needed. MMI also conducts community education programs in the areas where we have a physical presence.
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Domestic Violence Intervention Services, Inc.
Donna Mathews, Associate Director
Becoming accredited and maintaining our accreditation through COA has helped us increase our professionalism and thereby provide better services to domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and dating violence survivors.