The Accreditation Process
Both organizations (nonprofit and for-profit) and inviduals are eligible to apply for accrediation/approval. Under the accreditation regulations (22 CFR Part 96), nonprofit organizations (called agencies) may apply to be accredited to provide intercountry adoptions under the Convention. For-profit organizations and individuals (both called persons) may apply to be approved. (With a few exceptions, there is no difference between the services accredited agencies and approved persons can provide.)
- Nonprofit Agencies apply for accreditation
- Individuals or for-profit organizations apply for approval
To carry out the accrediation function, the Department of State has designated two accrediting entities. They are the Council on Accrediation and the Colorado Department of Health and Human Services. These accrediting entities will determine whether an applicant may be accredited or approved by using a substantial compliance system approved by the Department of State (22 CFR Part 96.27). Applicants for accreditation or approval should strive to satisfy every applicable standard outlined in 22 CFR Part 96, though less than full compliance with some standards may not be a bar to accreditation or approval.
Before deciding whether to accredit an agency or approve a person, an accrediting entity may use its discretion to provide the agency or person an opportunity to correct any deficiencies that may hinder or prevent accreditation or approval (22 CFR Part 96.24). The IAA does not provide for judicial or administrative review of an accrediting entity's decision to deny an application. If an applicant is denied accreditation or approval, it may petition for reconsideration using the accrediting entity's internal review procedures (22 CFR Part 96.59). The accreditation regulations do not provide a parallel petition procedure for temporary accreditation applicants.
If an organization or individual applies for accreditation/approval and fails to receive it, it can apply again at a later date. Adoption service providers in this position must apply to the same Accrediting Entity to which they first applied (22 CFR 96.21(b)(i)).
- More Information about the Accrediting Entities
- Technical Guidance on becoming accredited or approved
Length of Accreditation
Accreditation or approval and renewal of accreditation or approval will last four years. Temporary accreditation will be granted for a more limited period of time (one or two years). (Note: Initial accreditations and approvals were granted for three, four, or five years in order to stagger the future dates by which accredited agencies and approved persons will need to apply for renewal of their accreditation or approval status.)
Performing Adoption Services Without Accreditation
An agency or person engaged in intercountry adoptions does not necessarily have to apply for accreditation or approval to perform adoption services in Convention adoptions. It may instead choose to work under the supervision of another provider that is accredited or approved, or to provide only certain limited services that may be provided in Convention cases without being accredited or approved or supervised. It may also choose to provide services only in cases not subject to the Convention.
The IAA and its implementing regulations created the accreditation process to accredit agencies and to approve persons to act as primary providers in Convention cases. The intent was to give prospective adoptive parents one accredited/approved adoption service provider that would be responsible for implementing a service plan to provide (either directly or through arrangements with other providers) all of the adoption services in connection with a Convention adoption.
The categories supervised and exempted providers were specifically created by the IAA and its implementing regulations to enable smaller or specialized providers to operate under the Hague system in the United States and to work in concert with primary providers. The fact that such a provider is not "accredited" or "approved" does not reflect negatively on the provider's ability to provide a particular adoption service. It simply reflects the fact that such a provider is not in a position to act as a primary provider.