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Accreditation in Public Child Welfare: Exploring the Relationship between the Council on Accreditation (COA) and Structural Factors

Madeline Y. Lee, Kya Barounis, Andrea L. Hazen, Gregory A. Aarons & Danielle Fettes
JHHSA, Vol. 45 No. 2, 80-96 (2022)

Accreditation could potentially improve an under-resourced, overburdened child welfare system. As the first study to use national-level data to focus on the Council on Accreditation (COA) in public child welfare, this research note explores: 1) the landscape of accreditation and 2) how accreditation is related to agencies' structure (environment of care, organizational capacity). According to COA data from 2018, 29 child welfare agencies in the U.S. were accredited-four state-administered, two counties in state-administered systems, eight counties in one hybrid system, and 15 county-administered. Data from the second National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW II) found that, while accredited and non-accredited agencies were comparable on most structural factors, participation in Title IV-E waiver demonstration projects and less collaboration with substance abuse treatment providers were associated with accreditation. This research note sets the foundation for further evaluating accreditation's impact in child welfare.

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