News Brief: Council on Accreditations (COA) May Stop Accrediting Adoption Agencies

The Council on Accreditations (COA), which provides Hague accreditation for international adoption agencies in the U.S., may cease duties as an accrediting entity.

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On October 6, 2017, the Council on Accreditations (COA) informed the DOS and adoption agencies that it “would be unable to continue to perform its duties as an accrediting entity (AE) due to ‘unforeseen circumstances.’” COA will continue to perform its accrediting duties for at least 14 months, as the COA and DOS attempt to negotiate. If they haven’t agreed on a solution by that time, COA will cease to accredit adoption service providers (ASPs) and, according to the DOS, “COA’s oversight will transfer to another accrediting entity.”

COA has accredited adoption agencies for decades, and became the U.S.’s official accrediting entity under the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption when it came into effect for this country. COA’s duties include accrediting ASPs according to Hague standards, monitoring approved ASPs, and responding to complaints about service providers.

In the DOS’s official notice, it mentioned numerous concerns with COA’s performance, including the discovery during the debarment of an adoption agency in 2016 of “issues that had existed prior to the provider’s most recent re-accreditation but did not prevent its re-accreditation.”

In COA’s letter, it stated: “…the Department of State (the Department) is requiring COA to make significant changes in the nature and scope of our work in ways which will fundamentally change our responsibilities and role as an accrediting entity and which are inconsistent with COA’s philosophy and mission.”

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