Recognitions 101

What is a recognition?

A recognition occurs when an oversight entity (such as a regulator, funder, insurance provider, contract administrator, or legislative body) acknowledges, accepts, or requires the accreditation of an organization or program.The regulator may use accreditation to determine licensing, certification, contracting, or funding, among other things. Learn more about what that looks like below.

Why do recognitions matter?

Recognitions attest to the trust that regulators put in COA accreditation. When our accreditation is used as a benchmark, it speaks to the integrity and rigor of our process.

For our accredited organizations, recognitions can provide additional value through:

  • Reducing duplicative licensure processes,
  • Providing an opportunity to contract with public agencies,
  • Qualifying organizations for higher reimbursement rates,
  • And more.

To see how COA recognitions could provide your accredited sites and programs with additional value, please visit our Recognitions Map.

Types of recognitions


Deemed status recognition allows COA-accredited organizations to provide proof of accreditation in lieu of undergoing certain portions of a review process or oversight requirement (such as licensure or a grant application process). For more information on deemed status recognitions relevant to your sites and programs, please visit our Recognitions Map.


Mandate recognition occurs when an oversight entity (such as a governmental agency) requires human service organizations administering certain services to become accredited in order to be licensed, to access certain funding streams, or to be eligible for governmental contracts. The Family First Prevention Services Act is an example of a recent federal mandate.

While governmental (public) agencies are often the originators of mandates for private organizations, sometimes they are also required to seek accreditation. This can be either because of federal or state legislation or regulation, or because of court actions, such as consent decrees. In some cases, the agency might be required to seek accreditation with a specific accreditor; in other cases, accreditation may not be mandated, but the agency uses accreditation to demonstrate its adherence to required legal, regulatory, or judicial requirements.

For more information about mandates for government agencies, please contact

For more information on mandates relevant to your sites and programs, please visit our Recognitions Map.


States use Quality Rating Improvement Systems (QRIS) (that include Tiered Reimbursement Systems) to distinguish child care and youth programs based on the quality of service providers. Under these systems, tiered ratings—such as stars, points, or levels— are established to help consumers, governmental agencies, and other entities determine a baseline of service quality for programs and set reimbursement rates tied to quality. A higher rating, level, or tier allows an organization or program to receive higher reimbursement rates, gain access to beneficial community resources, expand opportunities for grants or additional funding, and/or increase its customer base.

Each state system is unique. Some may employ COA accreditation as means of increasing a programs’ rating, level, or tier, which can directly relate to reimbursement rates. For more information relevant to your sites and programs, please visit our Recognitions Map.