Children and Family Service Agencies’ Experience with the Initial Council on Accreditation Process: An Exploratory Studyedit
Accreditation is widespread among human service agencies, yet it remains understudied. To build a strong evidence base, the accreditation experience needs to be understood from agencies’ perspectives. This study focused on 5 child and family service agencies’ experiences to explore the challenges, costs, and lessons learned from undergoing the accreditation process through the Council on Accreditation (COA). In-depth interviews, focus groups, document reviews, and limited observations reveal agencies’ different approaches to delegating the work and variance in the length of the process according to COA’s recommendations. While the self-study was the most demanding component, many employees described a positive site visit experience. Results highlight implications for agencies and COA. The policy context and need for further research are also discussed.