COA Accreditation

What is Accreditation?

The formal evaluation of a program or organization against accepted criteria or standards. A professional society, non-governmental organization, or governmental agency may conduct accreditation activities. A COA-accredited program or organization has undergone a period of rigorous self-study and is capable of providing programs and services that meet or exceed COA standards.

Who is COA?

COA operates with the support of over 30 national and international organizations, a team of over 400 volunteers, a highly skilled and dedicated board of trustees and staff committed to promoting quality by championing and advocating for best practices.

Steps to COA Accreditation

  • Application
    • COA reviews the organization’s application to confirm eligibility.
  • Intake and Assessment
    • COA works with the organization to help it understand the process, what is involved, what standards are applicable, current accreditation readiness, and any specific needs the Organization might have.
  • Self-Study
    • This self-evaluation provides your organization with an opportunity to look at the current policies, procedures, and practices e in place and see how they align with the COA standards. You collect narratives and documents that show your implementation of the standards and electronically submit them to COA.
  • Site Visit
    •  A team of COA volunteer Peer Reviewers run an on-site review. Our volunteers have many years of experience in the field and have been trained by COA to effectively review the organization
  • Ratings Report and Pre-Commission Review
    • When the Site Visit is complete, COA sends the 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.
  • Accreditation Decision
    • 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.
  • Maintaining Accreditation
    • 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.


Canadian COA Standards

COA’s standards for Canadian organizations are designed to promote an organization’s capacity to fulfill its mission. The standards address both administrative and service delivery practices to enable the review and accreditation of the entire organization.

  1. Administration and Management Standards

    The Administration and Management Standards address practices that promote sound operations and management, including governance, financial management, and quality improvement. These apply to all organizations regardless of the services provided or populations served.

  2. Service Delivery Administration Standards

    The Service Delivery Administration Standards address practices related to the administration of services, including client rights, training and supervision, and program administration. These also apply to all organizations.

  3. Service Standards

    Service Standards address practices related to service provision areas across the full continuum of community-based social and behavioral healthcare services. These standards apply based on your organization’s scope and service population, and include:

    • Child, youth, and family services
    • Behavioral health services
    • Aging services
    • Homelessness services
    • Intellectual and developmental disabilities services
    • Residential services
    • Additional social services

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