Innovative Practices Award

Our annual Innovative Practices Award (IPA) spotlights the inspirational efforts of accredited or in-process organizations that bring lasting change to lives of vulnerable individuals.

Every year with the Innovative Practices Award, COA spotlights the inspirational efforts of organizations that innovate for the greater good. We invite you to submit and share your successful strategies and serve as a resource for direct service providers, leaders, researchers, and advocates across the full spectrum of human and social services.

Congratulations to Alternative Family Services‘ Enhanced Visitation Program, winner of the 2020 Innovative Practices Award!

From their abstract: “We hope our model inspires and encourages family visitation providers to address the challenges of the COVID19 environment with innovative and creative visitation practices for all the families they serve.” 

Read their full case study here. A big thank you again to all who participated!  


Winner benefits

The 2021 Innovative Practices Award winner will receive national visibility and promotion from both COA and participating national associations. The winner will also receive the following benefits:

  • Showcase on COA’s website, newsletter, and social media platforms
  • A virtual interview promoting your process
  • Special IPA winner logo for your website and marketing collateral
  • IPA Plaque
  • An opportunity to share/present to the larger COA community at a future COA-hosted event
  • Guest article on COA’s blog
  • COA swag bags for your team (up to 10 people)

2021 Submissions timetable

The 2021 submissions timetable has not yet been set. Please check back for updates!

Round one (open submission)

Round two (for selected finalists only)

Application and eligibility


  1. The primary applicant must be either currently COA-accredited or undergoing COA accreditation (in process) with no major Vital Occurrences on file.
  2. Applicants must submit a complete and thorough IPA Application Form and case study according to the directions.
  3. Previously published case studies may be submitted to COA if the author has already received permission from the IPA committee for republication (email This permission must be documented on the IPA Application Form
  4. Case studies that were applicants for the IPA in previous years may only be resubmitted when the associated practices and/or outcomes have significantly changed.
  5. The applicant must agree that they have read and understand the following conflicts of interest statements:
    • Award applications do not confer, impart, or guarantee positively or negatively on any current or future accreditation decision.
    • Applications representing more than one organization need to have the consent of all applicable parties.
    • Organizational applicants that permit research with service recipients are in accordance with applicable legal requirements.
  1. COA reserves the right to provide these IPA Case Studies—after they are approved by the selection committee—either free or at a low cost to all COA organizations.
  2. COA reserves the right to consider public and maintenance of accreditation (MOA) information pertaining to any applicant for its IPA.


The 2020 IPA preliminary round of submissions will be open August 3rd through September 4, 2020. Use our online submission form at to submit a brief synopsis of your innovative practice. Your synopsis should introduce the innovative practice and how it has contributed toward positive service delivery outcomes and organizational success in promoting social justice and/or navigating COVID-19. 

When filling out the form, you’ll need to indicate: 

  • Your organization name 
  • Your organization’s COA ID Number (Find this in your MyCOA Portal)  
  • The primary contact for this IPA submission 
  • The name of your innovative practice  

Note: COA will not accept submissions that are designed to endorse, market, or sell commercial products and/or services. 

On September 22nd, COA will notify any finalists that have been selected to move forward with the full Round 2 application. Finalists will have until October 30th to complete their second-round submissions. The winner will be announced on November 4th.