Public Agency Accreditation

COA accredits county/local/municipality and state-administered human services agencies for their implementation of research-informed, field-approved national standards of practice. The Public Agency Accreditation process involves the review of an agency’s administrative operations and service delivery within programs for which COA has applicable standards. Each agency is evaluated on its implementation of the accreditation standards through review of policy, procedure, and other documentary evidence, as well as an on-site review of the agency’s practices and service environments.

Agencies that achieve COA's Public Agency Accreditation have demonstrated a commitment to continuous quality improvement through substantial implementation of the accreditation standards..

See below for further information on COA’s Accreditation Readiness Assessment, which offers agencies a comprehensive evaluation of their implementation of foundational accreditation standards to support long-term planning, resource advocacy, and quality improvement without engaging in the process of achieving accreditation.

All COA services link agencies with an Accreditation Coordinator who partners with them throughout the process of achieving and maintaining accreditation or completing an Accreditation Readiness Assessment. 

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

Request Additional Information

Please reach out with any questions or for additional information on how accreditation can accelerate your agency’s quality improvement goals.

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Snapshot

  • Facilitative and collaborative partnership with an Accreditation Coordinator
  • Complimentary access to accreditation standards, tools, and many trainings
  • User-friendly, web-based application for participating in accreditation activities 
  • Customized accreditation timelines to meet agencies’ needs and resources
  • Assessment of implementation of COA’s Administration and Management, Service Delivery Administration, and applicable Service Standards
  • Multiple opportunities to demonstrate standards implementation through documentation, on-site reviews, and improvement actions
  • Regular updates on changes to the standards, accreditation process, and best practice in the field from COA and our national partners supporting excellence in human services

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Standards for Public Agencies

    The Standards for Public Agencies are comprised of three sections:

    • Administration and Management Standards
    • Service Delivery Administration Standards
    • Service Standards

    COA’s standards are free and accessible on the COA website. View the standards.

    Administration and Management/Service Delivery Administration Standards

    Agencies are expected to demonstrate implementation of both the Administration and Management and Service Delivery Administration Standards. These standards are applicable to all agencies regardless of service array as they provide the operational infrastructure necessary for quality service delivery and achievement of positive outcomes.  

    Service Standards 

    In addition to the Administration and Management and Service Delivery Administration standards, agencies are expected to demonstrate implementation of specific Service Standards applicable to the services the agency provides. The COA Service Standards include over 40 service areas, representing 125 services.

    • Child Welfare Services 
    • Youth and Family Development Services
    • Services for Mental Health and Substance Use
    • Adult Protective and Guardianship Services
    • Services for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities 
    • Residential Treatment, Group Living, and Shelter Services
    • A comprehensive array of additional human services

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    Accreditation Processes and Services

    The Public Agency Accreditation Program supports public agencies in evaluating their implementation of the accreditation standards as a continuous quality improvement strategy and in support of long-term, to-scale implementation of research-based practices. Our public agency partners include state-administered agencies, county/local/municipality-administered agencies, mandated programs, and other entities.

    It is customary for many public agencies to complete the accreditation process in 12-24 months; however, this is dependent on the type and size of the agency, priorities, resources, implementation needs, and many other determining factors. Timelines are customizable and built to suit the agency’s needs and to allow sufficient time  for the active involvement of all stakeholders, including personnel, consumers, community partners and others—and  to support feasible and sustainable change in policy and practice improvements.

    Accreditation for Public Agencies (County/Local/Municipality-Administered Agencies, Mandated Programs, Other entities)

    For an overview of the steps in the accreditation process see the Public Agency Accreditation Overview

    For a detailed look at the steps in the accreditation process, see part IV of the Accreditation Guidelines.

    The cost of accreditation varies in accordance with an agency’s size and service array. Fees associated with a four-year accreditation cycle for county/local/municipality-administered agencies, mandated programs and other entities cover the application, accreditation process, site visit costs, and maintenance of accreditation activities. See here for detailed information on Fees for Public Agency Accreditation (County/Local/Municipality-Administered Agencies, Mandated Programs, Other entities).

    Accreditation for State-Administered Public Agencies

    State-Administered Agency Accreditation recognizes entire state-administered agencies or service providing regions within a state-administered agency. Accreditation requires the involvement of a state-administered agency’s central administrative office in policy and procedure development and implementation to meet the accreditation standards.For an overview of State-Administered Agency Accreditation, including the Regional Accreditation Process, see the State-Administered Agency Accreditation Overview.

    For a detailed look at the State and Regional accreditation processes, see part I of the Accreditation Guidelines for State-Administered Public Agencies.

    The cost of accreditation varies in accordance with an agency’s size and service array. Fees associated with a four-year accreditation cycle for state-administered agencies cover the application, accreditation process, site visit costs, and maintenance of accreditation activities. See here for detailed information on Fees for Public Agency Accreditation.

    Accreditation Readiness Assessment

    In order to support enhanced capacity and lead to improved outcomes, an Accreditation Readiness Assessment (ARA) provides public human services agencies with a comprehensive review of their implementation of key accreditation standards. The ARA process is specifically designed to support agencies in quality improvement and resource advocacy efforts while helping interested agencies prepare for accreditation and others for when it aligns with their quality improvement efforts.

    See here for an overview of the Accreditation Readiness Assessment goals and process and here for associated fees.

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    Eligibility Criteria

    COA makes a determination of eligibility after receiving a completed application from an agency.

    Read COA’s Eligibility Criteria for Public Agencies.

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    Further Reading and Recommended Trainings

    Accreditation Guidelines

    For more information regarding the accreditation process, download and review the Accreditation Guidelines.

    Recommended Trainings

    Learning Plan

    For a comprehensive guide about the fundamentals of the accreditation process and COA standards, including links to recommended self-paced trainings and tools, download and review the COA Accreditation Learning Plan.

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    Request Additional Information

    Please reach out with any questions or for additional information on how accreditation can accelerate your agency’s quality improvement goals.

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    WHO IS ACCREDITED?

    Private Organization Accreditation

    As one of the largest family services agencies in the country, Child & Family Services has dedicated its resources to meet the needs of the community since 1873.
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    ORGANIZATION TESTIMONIAL

    Joint Base Charleston School Age Program

    Paula B. Matthews, School Age Program Coordinator

    Preparing for our after school accreditation was an awesome and very valuable learning experience for the Child and Youth Professionals at Charleston Air Force Base. Becoming familiar with and understanding the After School standards was a breeze because of the training webinars and the great customer service we received from all of the COA staff. Thank you for supporting our military families.
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