The Role of the Accrediting Entity

January 17 2014

The Department of State designated the Council on Accreditation (COA) as an accrediting entity to carry out the accreditation and approval of U.S. adoption service providers (ASPs).

The Universal Accreditation Act of 2012

The accrediting entity accredits agencies and approves persons and oversees and enforces substantial compliance with the accreditation standards. Starting July 14, 2014, when the Universal Accreditation Act of 2012 (UAA) goes into effect, the accreditation standards that apply in Convention cases also apply in non-Convention or "orphan" adoption cases described in section 101(b)(1)(F) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.  The UAA requires all adoption service providers in intercountry adoption to adhere to the ethical standards of practice embodied in the accreditation regulations.  In addition, it provides for uniform monitoring and oversight of ASPs as they carry out their day-to-day work helping families adopt abroad. For more information about the UAA, see our UAA Webpage.

Role of the Accrediting Entity

The accrediting entity makes accreditation and approval decisions based upon the standards and procedures in federal accreditation regulations (22 CFR Part 96).  In this role, COA performs a number of tasks, including:

  • Determining whether agencies or persons are eligible for accreditation or approval;
  • Monitoring the performance of accredited agencies and approved persons;
  • Investigating and responding to complaints about accredited agencies and approved persons;
  • Taking disciplinary action, when appropriate, against accredited agencies and approved persons;
  • Determining whether accredited agencies and approved persons are eligible for renewal of their accreditation or approval;
  • Collecting data from accredited agencies and approved persons, maintaining records, and reporting information; and
  • Assisting in the transfer of Convention adoption cases and adoption records if an agency or person loses its accreditation or approval.

Department of State Oversight of the Accrediting Entity

The State Department monitors the accrediting entity to ensure that it performs its functions consistent with the Hague Adoption Convention, the Intercountry Adoption Act (IAA), the UAA, the regulations implementing the IAA and UAA, other applicable law, and its written agreement with the Department. The Department conducts regular site visits and conference calls with the accrediting entity and a formal annual review as part of this monitoring.

The Department has the authority to suspend or cancel an accrediting entity's designation if it determines the accrediting entity is substantially out of compliance with the applicable laws and regulations and its written agreement with the Department. An accrediting entity may be considered substantially out of compliance with the Convention or the IAA under circumstances such as:

  • Failing to act in a timely manner when presented with evidence that an accredited/approved adoption service provider is substantially out of compliance with the accreditation standards;
  • Accrediting or approving a significant number of agencies or persons whose performance results in the intervention of the Department of State for the purposes of suspension, cancellation, or debarment;
  • Failing to perform its responsibilities fairly and objectively;
  • Violating prohibitions on conflicts of interests;
  • Failing to meet its reporting requirements;
  • Failing to protect information or documents that it receives in the course of performing its responsibilities; and
  • Failing to monitor frequently and carefully the compliance of accredited/approved adoption service providers with the home study requirements of the Convention.