COA's Eighth Edition Standards reflect COA's philosophy that accreditation is not an end but a means to an end. The real endpoint is an organization's enhanced growth and stability, an unwavering commitment to the health, safety, and rights of clients, and measurable results.
The standards have a new coherence due largely to a unifying framework using a three level structure. At the highest level, a purpose standard provides the overall aim of the practices in a section of standards. At a middle level, each of the parts that comprise a section is headed by a core concept standard. These standards are written to help organizations measure program output. Lastly, at a third level, standards that contain detailed practices contribute to the core concept, and to meeting the purpose. These are practice standards. When implementing the standards, an organization will see at a glance a recognizable outcomes orientation.
The Eighth Edition Standards have been streamlined and simplified. These refinements satisfy two long standing interests: relevance and utility that recognize the unique conditions in which services are delivered.
The standards rest on a platform of on-going guidance of three kinds: information gathered formally, through expert panels and advisor work groups; informal discussion with human service organizations about how the standards are implemented in a range of circumstances; and reviews of published research and professional literature. For the first time, material the standards draw upon - selected research notes, strong practices with evidentiary support, practices COA identifies as "evidence informed," and reference lists - is included for your information. With your participation, this material will continue to grow and evolve as new practice developments and service delivery trends emerge.
Lastly, we could think of no better way to present accessible, user-friendly standards than to publish them in an on-line, interactive format. Without turning pages or losing your place in the text you will now be able to find a word in the glossary or check a reference. You can consult only sections of interest, and print any material for study and review purposes. Significantly, your organization can create a personal My COA electronic notebook in one central location to facilitate the accreditation process and wide involvement. When updates are made users will be notified and these will be incorporated instantly throughout the standards.
The Eighth Edition standards are grounded in a long-standing, widely held belief that individuals who receive services are the direct beneficiaries when organizations invest in strong management practice, and can validate the impact of their services on those served. We also embrace the idea that the positive effects of implementing national standards multiply when organizations become part of a community that shares and supports this perspective. We hope you will consult and implement the standards to that end.