The volunteer review system is the key element of COA’s accreditation process. By relying on seasoned, skilled professionals to carry out the hands-on task of assessing human service organization compliance, COA is able to provide volunteers who are knowledgeable about current theory and practice, and are accepted as professional peers by organizational personnel. Volunteers provide each organization with an objective, professional, and quality review of their programs and services.
Interested in becoming a COA volunteer?
The role of a Peer Reviewer entails a responsibility to all the stakeholders who work with and/or require services from the organizations that COA accredits. A Peer Reviewer’s role is to ensure that the site visit is contextual and considers the specific organization and its mission, history, leadership, culture, environment, resources, capacity, and, most importantly, the unique needs and aspirations of the people being served. Peer Reviewers conduct site visits for COA's Private, Public, and Canadian reviews.
The success of the COA’s site visit is highly dependent on the management skills of COA’s Team Leaders. It is the role of the Team Leader to collaborate with the organization and fellow team members to coordinate all site visit activities. The Team Leader is ultimately responsible for the team’s performance and assures that the team functions in accordance to the Peer Reviewer Code of Conduct. Team Leaders conduct site visits for COA's Private, Public, and Canadian reviews.
COA prides itself on the caliber of its volunteer corps. These volunteers are an essential component of the COA accreditation process. COA’s Child & Youth Development (CYD) program accreditation Endorsers make an extraordinary commitment to guarantee quality site visits. CYD Endorsers may be qualified to review one or more of the following types of programs: Early Childhood Education, After School and Youth Development programs. COA Endorsers are recruited and trained based on their experience in any one or more of these specific fields, education, and commitment to promoting quality. In addition to the interviews, record reviews, and observations they conduct on site, volunteers spend time becoming familiar with a program through a review of its Self-Study prior to a site visit. Endorsers may participate in site visits either on-site or as a Remote Endorser, where travel is not necessary.
The Lead Endorsers are senior reviewers who have extensive experience with accreditation and the site visit process, and have demonstrated a true commitment to the purpose and goals of COA Child & Youth Development program accreditation. The success of the site visit process is very much dependent on the Lead Endorser’s skills, professionalism and ability to collaborate with the program, as well as communicate with fellow team members and the program contact. Lead Endorsers are also qualified to conduct solo site visits for smaller programs.
The role of Hague Evaluators is to ensure that adoption service providers are provided with an objective and professional review of their programs and services based on the Hague Accreditation/Approval process, the Hague Treaty, Intercountry Adoption Act, the Hague Standards, and COA's Hague Accreditation/Approval policies and procedures.
The Lead Evaluator is an experienced Evaluator who leads the evaluator team through the Hague Accreditation Site Review Process and acts as the liaison between the team members, the agency, and COA.
Military Family Readiness Reviewer
Military Family Readiness (MFR) reviewers are recruited, trained, and assigned to site visits whose family programming correlates to their specific experience and education. MFR sites may include one or more of the seven types of family readiness services for which COA has standards. Each Review Team includes at least one Volunteer Reviewer that has military experience and familiarity. The Review Team is knowledgeable about the unique needs of the customers being served, while being mindful of military culture and the differences among service branches. In addition to the on-site interviews, record reviews, and observations conducted on site, the team becomes familiar with the family program through a review of the self-study prior to the site visit.
Military Family Readiness Lead Reviewer
When the Volunteer Review Team is sent to conduct a site visit, the team is headed by a Lead MFR Reviewer. A Lead Reviewer acts as the liaison between the Review Team, the Family Readiness program, and COA. The Lead Reviewers are senior volunteers who have extensive experience with the site visit process, are knowledgeable of the Standards for Military Family Readiness (MFR) programs, and have demonstrated a true commitment to the purpose and goals of MFR program accreditation.
Volunteer Advisory Committee
The purpose of the Volunteer Advisory Committee is to provide information, guidance, advice, and support to COA in order to develop, coordinate and enhance the site visit experience for all. The advice of this committee will not necessarily lead to policy change and/or decisions however it can serve to improve current and future COA policies.
Senior Fellows comprise some of COA’s most experienced volunteers, commission members, and present and former leaders from accredited organizations who are able to be “on call” to execute diverse accreditation-related tasks, which include but not limited to: training; technical assistance; mentoring and support of team leaders and volunteers; and being available for last-minute site reviews.
Accreditation Commissioners are a diverse group of qualified individuals with professional backgrounds that enable thoughtful and skillful participation in the accreditation decision making process. Commissioners review an organization’s response to site visit findings and COA recommendations to assess implementation of the standards and determine the appropriate accreditation decision. Each Commission Group is led by a Commission Chair who is nominated by their fellow Commissioners. Top Team Leaders who are also current or prior senior management from accredited organizations may be eligible to serve on COA’s Accreditation Commission.
Private Organization Accreditation
Sweetser, a Maine non-profit agency operating since 1828, provides comprehensive mental and behavioral health and substance abuse treatment services. Statewide, it serves around 15,000 consumers a year, including children, adults, and families in outpatient, office-based, and residential settings.
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Family Services of the North Shore
Kathleen Whyte, Manager of Human Resources / Accreditation Coordinator
Family Services of the North Shore is about to enter our third accreditation cycle with COA. Accreditation has provided us with a framework that enables us to demonstrate accountability to our clients, our funders and our donors. There is no question that the accreditation process and COA have benefited our agency.