COA Accreditation

2023 COA Accreditation Standards Updates

Social Current logo Social Current
May 9, 2023

The 2023 edition of updates to the standards for COA Accreditation, a service of Social Current, is now available. These targeted enhancements to the standards are the result of our annual process and include changes based on ongoing collection and analysis of feedback received from our network, collaboration with diverse groups of subject matter experts, and a review of research and professional literature on identified trends and evolving practices.

Our collaborative update process is designed to ensure the standards remain up-to-date, research-based, and field-informed, promoting improved outcomes for individuals, families, and communities.

Who’s Affected

These changes impact private, public, and Canadian accredited organizations. The 2023 edition of updates will not impact organizations that are currently pursuing accreditation or re-accreditation and have already been assigned standards in the MyCOA portal.

When It is Happening

Standards assignments for COA Accreditation using the new standards began April 20, 2023.

What’s Changing in Our Standards

Revised Standards for Residential Treatment Services

We have revised our standards for Residential Treatment Services (RTX) to better address important topics in the field, including encouraging appropriate use of residential treatment, centering resident voice and choice, maximizing family involvement, creating a trauma-informed service culture, reducing the use of restrictive interventions, and working with residents to develop the skills they need to manage challenges and live successfully at home and in the community. The 2023 updates to RTX include:

  • New and revised content on promoting healing and empowerment through relationships, choice, and active engagement​
  • New and revised content on promoting a noncoercive environment where individuals have the support they need and crises are prevented​
  • New and revised content on developing, practicing, and generalizing new skills and strategies​
  • New content on working with Peer and Family Partners
  • Shifting towards person-centered language and away from terms like “resident”

Revised Standards for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

We have released equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) enhancements to our standards to advance administrative and service delivery practices that embed EDI and promote the delivery of equitable services for all people through physically and psychologically safe, inclusive, and trauma-informed environments. The 2023 EDI updates include new or enhanced content on:

  • Developing an organization-wide equity statement
  • Reviewing human resource policies and procedures through an equity lens
  • Providing opportunities for personnel to practice cultural humility
  • Disaggregating data to identify disproportionate outcomes
  • Creating safe, welcoming, and inclusive administrative and service delivery environments
  • Resource and adoptive family recruitment that prioritizes the needs of children and youth in care
  • Training and support for staff and resource families focused on meeting the diverse needs of children and youth in care​
  • Prohibiting coercive, threatening, or otherwise harmful treatment modalities​

Additional Revisions

In response to feedback from our network, we are also releasing a collection of revisions throughout the COA Accreditation standards to provide clarity and/or remain current with trends in the field. Highlights include:

  • An NA in PRG 5 and 6 for programs not focused on serving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and a new standard in ASE to promote inclusive services in all programs
  • New glossary definitions for “Secondary Traumatic Stress” and “Child-Focused Recruitment” and a revised definition for “Trauma-Informed”
  • A series of updates to clarify the intent and applicability of NAs throughout the standards
  • Updates to PRG 3: Medication Management for programs that allow residents to store and/or administer their own medication
  • Updates to FKC 12: Supports and Services for Expectant and Parenting Youth

A full list of standards impacted by the 2023 updates can be found here.

Our Process

The 2023 COA Accreditation standards updates reflect changes made based on evolving practices, ongoing review of relevant literature, and the continuous feedback we receive from our network, including volunteer reviewers and accredited organizations. More specifically, updating the 2023 Standards involved:

  • Collection, in-depth review, and synthesis of prominent published research and professional literature in targeted areas
  • Review of standards drafts and discussion of trends in the field with Standards Advisory Panels comprised of subject matter experts, agency leaders, and service providers
  • Collection and review of feedback solicited from Social Current’s network, including through the “Provide Feedback” button found in the MyCOA and VIP portals
  • Sharing drafts online for a period of field comment to solicit feedback from Social Current’s network and the broader social service sector


If you are currently pursuing accreditation or re-accreditation, reach out to your accreditation coordinator.

If you are seeking accreditation for the first time, please contact Joe Perrow.

For additional information about COA Accreditation standards, please contact Melissa Dury.

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About Social Current

Social Current is the premier partner and solutions provider to a diverse network of human and social service organizations. We offer a range of innovative solutions through COA Accreditation, consultation, impact partnerships, knowledge curation and dissemination, learning collaboratives, networking, public policy advocacy and mobilization, and trainings.