The COA accreditation process

Our in-depth accreditation process is a strengths-based review and accreditation of (in most cases) an entire organization.

Accrediting an entire organization/agency means that we apply not only Service standards (where applicable), but also Administration and Management and Service Delivery Administration standards. Learn about why we take that approach—and how it can benefit everyone involved with your organization—here.brThe whole process typically takes 12-18 months for our private and Canadian accreditation programs. Organizations impacted by the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) may qualify for a phased accreditation approach that helps them to meet their mandated deadline. If you are a child and youth development organization seeking to have your program sites accredited individually, expect the process to take 9-12 months for each site. Agencies in our public accreditation process can expect the process to take 18 – 48 months, dependent on the agency’s size and the accreditation process option it chooses.brAccreditation may seem overwhelming, but we help you take things one step at a time. Your dedicated Accreditation Coordinator will be there throughout to answer any questions and to collaborate with you to tackle the process at a pace that works for your organization. We also offer an array of free, user-friendly trainings, tools, and resources here on our site to set you up for success.

Want to plan ahead? Check out our Site Visit Date Calculator for private and Canadian organizations.



COA reviews your application to confirm that you are eligible to pursue accreditation. We send your organization’s primary contact an agreement to sign and return to us along with your accreditation fee.


COA works with you to help you understand the process, what is involved, what standards are applicable for your organization, your current accreditation readiness, and any specific needs you might have. We assign you your dedicated Accreditation Coordinator to help you every step of the way.


This self-evaluation provides your organization with an opportunity to look at the current policies, procedures, and practices you have in place and see how they align with the standards. You collect narratives and documents that show your implementation of the standards and electronically submit them to COA.


A team of COA volunteer Peer Reviewers runs an on-site review. Our volunteers have many years of experience in the field and have been trained by COA to effectively review your organization.


When the Site Visit is complete, we send your organization a report summarizing the Peer Reviewers’ findings (this is called the Pre-Commission Review (PCR) Report). In the report, we include recommendations about how your organization can demonstrate more effective standards implementation and, if needed, offer you another opportunity to show us how you have.


The PCR Report is reviewed by our Accreditation Commission, a group made up of our most experienced Peer Review volunteers, which will look at the evidence you provided (as well as your updated evidence) and either approve your accreditation or request more information. Once a decision is reached, we send your organization a Final Accreditation Report (FAR) with a complete set of ratings for all assigned standards.


COA accreditation is valid for four years from the date of achievement. Remaining accredited requires you to maintain the implementation of standards with an annual report.


The reaccreditation process begins 18 months prior to your organization’s accreditation expiration date.