Heartland Family Service recently became the first organization in the country to be reviewed against SAMHSA’s updated criteria for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics through COA Accreditation, a service of Social Current.

Funded through SAMHSA, CCBHCs are designed to ensure access to coordinated and comprehensive behavioral health care. CCBHCs are required to serve anyone who requests care for mental health or substance use, regardless of their ability to pay, place of residence, or age—including developmentally appropriate care for children and youth.

With over 500 CCBHCs operating across the country, SAMHSA’s recent criteria encourages states to require accreditation by an independent accrediting body as part of its state certification requirements. COA Accreditation standards cover SAMHSA’s six key program areas and align with the CCBHC certification criteria.

COA Accreditation reviewed Heartland Family Service’s ability to meet the CCBHC certification criteria through site visits, discussions with service providers and care recipients, and data review. As the first organization to undergo COA Accreditation’s CCBHC review utilizing SAMHSA’s criteria, Heartland Family Service has helped to strengthen the process to assist more organizations in their pursuit of this review.

“CCBHCs provide timely access to mental health and substance use care and create important links for service recipients. We are proud to recognize Heartland Family Service as a CCBHC against SAMHSA’s criteria,” said Jody Levison-Johnson, president and CEO of Social Current.

COA Accreditation standards center person and family-centered treatment and promote culturally and linguistically appropriate practice and inclusive and accessible care. The standards for performance and quality improvement (PQI) provide a roadmap for developing a robust, sustainable, organization-wide PQI system that will increase organizational capacity to meet data tracking and reporting requirements.    

Learn more about COA Accreditation for CCBHCs

Help Shape the Next Edition of COA Accreditation Standards

COA Accreditation, a service of Social Current, is proposing enhancements to its accreditation standards. These draft revisions are now available for review and comment from the field.

Click on the links above to save the Word documents to your computer’s Downloads folder. Review the documents and submit your feedback through the process outlined at the top of each document. The deadline to make comments is Feb. 1.  

These proposed updates reflect an in-depth review and synthesis of prominent published research and professional literature, as well as collaboration with a diverse group of subject matter experts from this field. The field comment period is a critical step in our process because it ensures our standards are field informed by including input from provider organizations in the development process.    

This critical pairing of research and practice ensures that the COA Accreditation standards remain rigorous, practical, and reflective of current trends and evolving practices and continue to promote improved outcomes for individuals, families, and communities. The final updates will be released in spring 2024.

Through COA Accreditation, a service of Social Current, we seek to empower organizations to implement best practice standards to improve service delivery and achieve better outcomes for individuals and communities. COA Accreditation provides a framework to help organizations manage resources, incorporate best practices, and strive for continuous improvement.

We believe there is rich expertise in our field, so we ground the COA Accreditation process in our human and social services community. Our volunteer peer reviewers conduct our site visits and finalize accreditation decisions.

We are proud to spotlight the latest Volunteer of the Quarter: Christian Holland

About Christan Holland

Christian Holland was named vice president of programs for the Philadelphia Youth Network (PYN) this September. He is responsible for the service delivery strategy, program implementation and compliance for all PYN programs in this new role. This includes ensuring all youth are connected to high quality services by developing programs as well as facilitating procurement models and support. Additionally, Christian provides leadership to support fundraising and business development relationships and processes. His goal is to ensure all participants and partners have a meaningful and valuable experience while assisting youth up the ladder of economic mobility.

Christian earned a master’s in business administration from Benedictine University as well as a master’s in divinity with a focus on administration, counseling, and education from Claremont School of Theology. He earned his bachelor’s in psychology from Wesleyan University. He also received a certification from the Nonprofit Executive Leadership Institute at Bryn Mawr College.

Christian most recently served as senior director of out-of-school time and youth programming at Episcopal Community Services. There he provided strategic oversight and expansion for multiple sites and contracts, which deliver quality educational extended learning opportunities to youth and families. In addition to his more than 20 years of professional experience, Christian chairs and serves on various health and educational boards throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

It was in 2010, during a accreditation cycle, Christian was approached by a staff member from the Council on Accreditation, now Social Current. During this conversation, he learned about the opportunity to become a COA Accreditation volunteer. He says accepting the chance to serve as a volunteer was one of the greatest decisions he made in his career.

Q&A

What three traits define you?

I am defined by the following traits: High quality, impact, and dignity. These values push and motivate me in the work I do. As a volunteer, I am committed to ensuring agencies offer high–quality services, hence impacting the participants being served. It’s also important because offering high quality services ensures participants have dignity and feel a sense of equity and respect. This is critical.

What are your strongest beliefs about the value of COA Accreditation?

COA Accreditation is extremely powerful! It really does provide a framework for agencies to manage resources, offer best practices and strive for continuous quality improvement. This is critical for an organization to continue to grow, innovate and sustain its stance as a credible player in the nonprofit sector.

What advice would you give someone interested in being a COA Accreditation volunteer?

It may be intimidating in the beginning, however, if someone approaches you, or perhaps you just feel like it’s something you may want to do, go for it! Social Current is an amazing organization, and they are there to assist you.

I will always be a part of the COA Accreditation family. I’m not going anywhere. Social Current has amazing staff like Director of Volunteer Engagement Darrell Woodliff and Senior Volunteer Services Coordinator Phil Vasquez (they are really incredible support for volunteers), a great commission of senior volunteers and decision makers, a supportive COA Accreditation team, and a great visionary and president, Jody Levison-Johnson. You can’t go wrong with this supportive team! Try it, like me, and it may just positively change your life.

Share a memorable place, person, or experience from a site visit.

I have served as a volunteer for over a decade and there are so many great experiences and leaders I have had the pleasure to encounter. For me, however, what’s most rewarding is when I am able to do a site visit and see a program, make recommendations through the process, and then return to the site at a later time, four to eight years later, to see those recommendations implemented, standards in full action and the site thriving. There are no words to explain how that makes me feel. There is a sense of fulfillment and assurance the youth and families being served are really experiencing the best possible experience– that is CQI in action! I love that!

What excites, surprises, and/or challenges you the most about the work you do as a COA Accreditation volunteer?

I tell people the people I have met through COA Accreditation are an extended part of my family and COA Accreditation saved my life. It really did. In a time when I was burning out in the work, COA Accreditation gave me energy, a sense of purpose, and allowed me to see the bigger picture of the “power of the work” as well as the true impact of quality programs.

I believe we have the power to positively change the lives of those we serve! That excites me! It is never easy, however, helping an organization through the COA Accreditation process and seeing when the light bulb goes off for an executive director or manager in relation to best practices, CQI, or an area of service delivery is powerful! That’s when it gets exciting for me–when people can take the standards and connect them to practical examples and use that data to inform and improve their programs. That is what I live for!

Learn more about how to become a peer review volunteer and apply online.

Help Shape the Next Edition of COA Accreditation Standards

COA Accreditation, a service of Social Current, is proposing enhancements to its accreditation standards. These draft revisions are now available for review and comment from the field.

Click on the links above to save the Word documents to your computer’s Downloads folder. Review the documents and submit your feedback through the process outlined at the top of each document. The deadline to make comments is Dec. 14.  

These proposed updates reflect an in-depth review and synthesis of prominent published research and professional literature, as well as collaboration with a diverse group of subject matter experts from this field. The field comment period is a critical step in our process because it ensures our standards are field informed by including input from provider organizations in the development process. The final updates will be released in spring 2024.   

This critical pairing of research and practice ensures that the COA Accreditation standards remain rigorous, practical, and reflective of current trends and evolving practices and continue to promote improved outcomes for individuals, families, and communities.

Through COA Accreditation, a service of Social Current, we seek to empower organizations to implement best practice standards to improve service delivery and achieve better outcomes for individuals and communities. COA Accreditation provides a framework to help organizations manage resources, incorporate best practices, and strive for continuous improvement.

We believe there is rich expertise in our field, so we ground the COA Accreditation process in our human and social services community. Our volunteer peer reviewers conduct our site visits and finalize accreditation decisions.

We are proud to spotlight the latest Volunteer of the Quarter: Shelley Huseman.

About Shelley Huseman

Shelley Huseman began her social service career in juvenile probation and corrections. After a difficult internship, however, she realized her calling was not with the probation department, but rather working with children and families. After the internship concluded, she accepted a position supervising visitation between parents and their children who were living in foster care.

While this work was more fulfilling to her, Shelley wanted more influence over outcomes. She became a child welfare specialist with a large agency and worked for several years assisting children, parents, and foster parents. Reunification was always desired when safe, and she worked diligently with parents to achieve this goal. Shortly after, Shelley was offered a supervisory position to assist other child welfare specialists in attaining reunification when possible.

Although graduate school was not on her radar, a degree was required for this supervisory role. As a new mother and full-time employee, Shelley went back to school to achieve her master’s in human services. She reflects on this time in her life saying, “while this was the most difficult time in my career, I would not change it.”

During this challenging time, Shelley attended a Family Focused Treatment Association (FFTA) Conference in Orlando, Fla., and it was there she became acquainted with COA Accreditation. She was inspired by the message and vision of COA Accreditation and knew she wanted to be a part of it.

After obtaining her master’s degree, she applied to become a peer reviewer and attended the training. She completed as many site visits as she could while working full time and became familiar with the standards for the social sector. Later, she was asked to become a team leader and commissioner and says, “it was an easy decision.”

She worked as a regional director with a state-wide agency until 2022, and she now serves as a public service administrator for the State of Illinois.

Q&A

What are your strongest beliefs about the value of COA Accreditation?

Every social service agency should be accredited with the highest possible standards, within a process that assists the agency and staff in becoming the best possible resource they can be.

What advice would you give someone interested in being a COA Accreditation volunteer?

Make sure you have the desire and ability to work with other professionals who are doing things differently than you. Remain open to learning different ways of addressing social services and embrace those differences. This is not an adversarial process and should never be entered into as one. We are here to assist agencies in providing the best possible services and it is our duty to provide the framework for them. Being a COA Accreditation peer reviewer is a very rewarding experience that allows the reviewer to learn and grow while providing a critical service to other professionals.

Share a memorable place, person, or experience from a site visit.

My most memorable experience on a site visit was when I got to meet and work with Social Current’s Director of Volunteer Engagement, Darrell Woodliff, for the first time. This experience even overshadows my visit to Hawaii, if you can believe that. I was instantly drawn to his kindness, knowledge, intensity, and humor. He gave me the standard of reviewer that I wanted to someday become, and I am still working on it 14 years later. I have had the pleasure of working with him since then and reach out to him often; he has never let me down.

What excites, surprises, and/or challenges you the most about the work you do as a COA Accreditation volunteer?

I love working with professionals from other agencies and states. I learn so much from each visit and utilize much of what I learn in my own management. I have also made many friends within the COA Accreditation peer team. I find it challenging when an agency does not agree with the standards. While this has only occurred on a few occasions, I believe in the standards COA Accreditation has established and know they assure the best possible practice from accredited agencies.

Learn more about how to become a peer review volunteer and apply online.

In my last post, I shared information about the most recent update to our COA Accreditation standards. We made improvements to help them better reflect principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion. I also shared how the process for updating our standards is very inclusive, incorporating both research and insight from leaders and practitioners at community-based organizations.

In addition, the way we review organizations is driven by the field. Site visits are conducted by our volunteer peer reviewers who come from other accredited organizations. We believe accreditation should lead to meaningful growth and improvement. And by using peer reviewers—people who understand your day to day—we seek to foster a collaborative environment.

We embed field experience throughout the accreditation process to ensure it is relevant, applicable, and impactful. COA Accreditation, a service of Social Current, is designed to be supportive and transformational for organizations. Your impact is our impact in seeking a stronger social sector and a society where all people can thrive.

In this video, Roy Leitstein of Legacy Treatment Services shares why it is powerful.

To learn more about COA Accreditation and Social Current, register for an upcoming Introduction to COA webinar.

Each year, the COA Accreditation standards team at Social Current reviews and updates our standards manual to ensure that it is consistent with evolving practices, relevant literature, and the continuous feedback we receive from our network. We recently released our 2023 edition of updates, the culmination of our yearlong collaborative process.

In our work to update the standards we strive to live our values of inclusivity and engaging all voices. In addition to reviewing published literature, we prioritize feedback from those with field experience. Specifically, our process for updating the standards involved:

A significant motive behind our most recent update was to better reflect principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI). We released these enhancements to our standards to promote EDI through organizations’ practices, policies, and services.

To learn more about COA Accreditation, a service of Social Current, register for an upcoming Introduction to COA webinar.

Through COA Accreditation, a service of Social Current, we seek to empower organizations to implement best practice standards to improve service delivery and achieve better outcomes for individuals and communities. COA Accreditation provides a framework to help organizations manage resources, incorporate best practices, and strive for continuous improvement.

We believe there is rich expertise in our field, so we ground the COA Accreditation process in our human and social services community. Our volunteer peer reviewers conduct our site visits and finalize accreditation decisions.

We are proud to spotlight the latest Volunteer of the Quarter: Katrina Harrison Peoples.

About Katrina Harrison Peoples

Katrina Harrison Peoples is a native of St. Louis and has more than 20 years of nonprofit experience. She earned her bachelor’s from University of Missouri in human development and family studies as well as her master’s in professional counseling from Lindenwood University. She also has certifications in organizational development and leadership from the Institute of Organizational Development.

Katrina has led program operations in a diverse array of youth service settings, including 24-hour crisis center and helpline services, street-based outreach and drop-in service centers, psychological testing, in-home and office-based counseling, as well as transitional/independent living, school-based, afterschool, level 3-4+ residential, and mentorship programs. After serving in the highest level of operational leadership roles, Katrina shifted her work to funding and providing strategic consulting services to community-based organizations. She currently serves as vice president of school age initiatives at Area Resources for Community and Human Services (ARCHS). In this role, she manages a funding portfolio of contracts totaling over $3 million that serve youth in development and out-of-school programs.

Katrina learned about COA Accreditation during her tenure in the nonprofit sector while working for several COA-accredited organizations. She participated in both initial and several reaccreditation processes prior to serving as a peer reviewer.

In her spare time, Katrina is a fitness professional with several certifications and teaches group exercise classes.

Q&A

What led you to become a COA Accreditation Volunteer?

My desire to become a COA Accreditation volunteer was sparked after participating in my organization’s COA committee as we were preparing for our initial accreditation process. Participating in that committee and working through the process led to my interest in expanding beyond programs and additionally understanding the organization as a system. After going through the process, I began to think more systematically about my work, which has positively impacted my leadership lens.

What are your strongest beliefs about the value of COA Accreditation?

Having gone through initial accreditation and reaccreditation as an employee in various organizations, I believe the biggest value is the process of preparing for accreditation. I have seen countless examples of how an organization can grow and mature by understanding the value and developing new systems of doing the work. I have seen culture change as the organization starts to identify new priorities and let go of old mindsets. I have also seen how the intensity of preparation has fostered a sense of teamwork across various departments, improved order and structure, and has created more respect and appreciation across the organization for the various aspects of work that contribute to accomplishing the mission.

What excites, surprises, and/or challenges you the most about the work you do as a COA Accreditation volunteer?

What excites me the most is that no site visit experience is ever the same but ALL of them provide a rich learning experience. Each organization has its own unique mission, culture, and methods that best serve their communities. It’s a privilege to get an up-close-and-personal view of how the organization operates. I always learn something of value that I can bring back home.

Share a memorable place, person, or experience from a site visit.

I completed a site visit during the pandemic and could never have imagined there would be a time where a site visit could be completed virtually. While it was not the same and we lost some things in the absence of in-person interactions, the review team was fully committed to working together to honor the process so that the organization did not miss any of the value in going through the process. I was also impressed with how quickly Social Current transitioned training and all the systems to a virtual context.

Learn more about how to become a peer review volunteer and apply online.

Human services nonprofits face several challenges in measuring their organizations’ health and stability. It is a frequent hot topic among thought leaders and organizations working to achieve COA Accreditation, a service of Social Current. Within COA Accreditation, our Analyzing and Reporting Information standards are among the most difficult to achieve.

To support organizations, we have updated Social Current’s COA Accreditation Benchmarking Program with an interactive data dashboard. This program for COA-accredited private and Canadian organizations contextualizes the performance against peer entities on 15 measures of health and stability in four performance domains:

Our program is focused solely on human and social service organizations and, unlike other benchmarking services, maintains comparison integrity—the extent to which the comparison group matches your organization. What value does a benchmark provide a child welfare organization if it was derived from animal rights nonprofits? Through our multitiered algorithm to match similar organizations, you will receive apples-to-apples comparisons.

In creating this program, we partnered with leaders in human and social services, COA-accredited organizations, and our volunteer peer reviewers to define universal measures of organizational health and stability.

By collecting, aggregating, and sharing this data, this program creates value at multiple levels:

To learn more, visit our benchmarking webpage or contact our Data Help Team at Social Current.

This benchmarking program announcement follows the launch of our 2023 standards updates. The Social Current team will continue to create research-based and field-informed solutions around accreditation for the human and social services field. See the standards updates.

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:

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:

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:

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:

Questions?

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.