Private Organization Accreditation

Debt Education and Certification Foundation (DECAF), a private non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, provides high-quality financial education and counseling, with nationwide outreach throughout the U.S. DECAF is HUD-approved, and recognized as one of the 100 Best Companies to Work for in Texas.


Bonnie Bagley

Volunteer Roles: Evaluator; Lead Evaluator; Peer Reviewer; Team Leader

I have found that being a COA Volunteer builds my professional skills and experience in ways that more traditional workshops do not. The opportunity to learn about best practices through the COA standards and then see how agencies implement them is truly a growth experience.
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Experiential Education provides safe, activity-based opportunities for learning and reflection that support the achievement of identified program outcomes.

CA-EES 6: Activity Technical and Safety Requirements

The organization considers safety and technical requirements, competence of leaders, and the abilities of participants when engaging in potentially demanding activities.

Rating Indicators
All elements or requirements outlined in the standard are evident in practice, as indicated by full implementation of the practices outlined in the Practice standards.
Practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice standards; e.g.,
  • Minor inconsistencies and not yet fully developed practices are noted, however, these do not significantly impact service quality; or
  • Procedures need strengthening; or
  • With few exceptions procedures are understood by staff and are being used; or
  • For the most part, established timeframes are met; or
  • Proper documentation is the norm and any issues with individual staff members are being addressed through performance evaluations (CA-HR 6.02) and training (CA-TS 2.03); or
  • Active client participation occurs to a considerable extent.
Practice requires significant improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice standards. Service quality or program functioning may be compromised; e.g.,
  • Procedures and/or case record documentation need significant strengthening; or
  • Procedures are not well-understood or used appropriately; or
  • Timeframes are often missed; or
  • A number of client records are missing important information  or
  • Client participation is inconsistent; or
  • One of the Fundamental Practice Standards received a rating of 3 or 4.
Implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all, as noted in the ratings for the Practice standards; e.g.,
  • No written procedures, or procedures are clearly inadequate or not being used; or
  • Documentation is routinely incomplete and/or missing; or  
  • Two or more Fundamental Practice Standards received a rating of 3 or 4.

Table of Evidence

Self-Study Evidence On-Site Evidence On-Site Activities
    • Procedures for activity preparation, including group safety and skill level requirements
    • Guidelines regarding use of protective gear and equipment
    • Safety and training plans for each of the high-risk activities conducted by the organization
    • Credentials of experts
    • Guidelines for safely building and extinguishing fires
    • Inspection and safety reports
    • Applicable certificates of accreditation, licensure, or certification by a nationally recognized authority in the high-risk activities being conducted
    • Interview:
      1. Program director
      2. Relevant personnel
      3. Individuals and families served
    • Review personnel files

  • FP
    CA-EES 6.01

    Before initiation of an activity, the organization:

    1. orients personnel to the terrain, sites, or waterways that will be used;
    2. verifies that personnel have direct experience with, and up-to-date information about, the conditions that may be encountered; and
    3. provides participants with complete information about geographic boundaries for the activity, rendezvous times and places, and emergency procedures.

    NA The organization does not conduct activities in the field away from the program site.

  • FP
    CA-EES 6.02

    The organization evaluates potentially demanding activities for level of difficulty and undertakes only those within the competence of the leaders and the abilities of participants.

  • FP
    CA-EES 6.03

    When the activity involves travel or movement, participants receive instruction in pacing, fluid intake, clothing and footwear, equipment, and possible hazards.

    Interpretation: Activities addressed in this standard may include hiking, running, climbing, canoeing, bicycle touring, or similar pursuits.

    NA The organization does not conduct activities that involve travel or movement.

  • FP
    CA-EES 6.04

    Participants and personnel use protective gear and equipment when appropriate, including:

    1. personal flotation devices approved by Transport Canada for water activities;
    2. location devices and reflectors for dusk and night activities;
    3. helmets for biking, climbing, caving, or other appropriate activities; and
    4. other protective gear and equipment, as appropriate to the activity to be undertaken.

  • FP
    CA-EES 6.05

    The organization maintains clear guidelines and trains personnel and participants, as appropriate, on safely building and extinguishing fires.

    NA The organization does not conduct activities that involve building and extinguishing fires.

  • FP
    CA-EES 6.06

    Ropes courses, alpine or climbing towers, and artificial wall climbing activities meet the following requirements:

    1. the facilities and equipment used have been constructed by recognized experts in the field;
    2. personnel have been trained by recognized experts in the field and have a working knowledge of ropes course and climbing equipment elements, technology, construction, usage, and inspection; and
    3. appropriate inspection and safety procedures have been fully implemented.

    Interpretation: COA does not approve, certify, or accredit ropes courses, alpine or climbing towers, or artificial wall climbing programs. The organization must seek independent review by recognized experts for that purpose.

    NA The organization does not operate the specified activities or program components.

  • FP
    CA-EES 6.07

    The organization uses certified instructors and complies with applicable national, provincial, or local safety standards for the following high-risk activities:

    1. white water rafting, kayaking, or canoeing;
    2. snow and ice climbing or glacier travel;
    3. mountaineering, bouldering, and rock climbing;
    4. top rope climbing and rappelling;
    5. caving;
    6. river crossing;
    7. solo expeditions;
    8. activities involving flying, hang gliding, gliding, and parachuting; and
    9. other high-risk activities.

    Interpretation: Organizations that offer any of the activities listed above must provide proof of accreditation, licensure, or certification with a nationally recognized authority for the activity being conducted to achieve COA accreditation.

    NA The organization does not conduct any of the high-risk activities listed in the standard.

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