Illinois Department of Children and Family Services

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COA Accreditation Fact Sheet

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Director Jess McDonald unveils a plaque honoring DCFS offices accredited by the Council on Accreditation for Children and Family Services. Joining him at the June 10 Chicago press conference (left to right) are COA board member . Barbara Rawn,  AFSCME Executive Director Henry Bayer, and DCFS Child and Family Services Advisory Commission President Frances Pace Barnes.
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DCFS Becomes the Nation’s Largest Child Welfare Agency to Achieve Accreditation

Chicago, July 10 -- Governor George H. Ryan today announced that the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services has achieved full accreditation by the world’s leading accreditor of child welfare services.

According to the Council on Accreditation for Children and Family Services (COA), DCFS is the largest, and only the second child welfare agency in the nation to achieve full accreditation.

“I extend a well-deserved congratulations to Director Jess McDonald and the DCFS staff throughout the state for reaching this monumental goal,” said Governor Ryan.  

Completing accreditation shows that an agency or organization has met the highest national standards of child welfare practice and provides assurance that the organization delivers effective services that the community needs.

 “We are excited by both the advocacy and incredible example that the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services has set for accreditation,” said David Liederman, President of COA.  “As a result of their efforts, we have ten states that are pursuing accreditation and an additional seven states that are seriously considering COA accreditation.” 

Accreditation means clients can now expect even greater participation in decisions that affect their cases, improved case management and documentation, and improved internal operations and accountability. Additionally, accreditation further builds the confidence of foster and adoptive parents, providers, the courts and members of the community in the agency’s work and dedication.

“Achieving accreditation further demonstrates our commitment to provide the highest quality services possible to the children, families and communities we serve,” said Director Jess McDonald. “It took long hours of hard work for thousands of staff in dozens of DCFS offices around the state. This effort reflects our commitment to continue to improve all aspects of our work.”

The accreditation process began in 1996 when DCFS and COA agreed that for DCFS to be fully accredited, central office functions had to be accredited, along with offices that represent 60 percent of statewide caseload. Eight field offices volunteered to begin the process along with the Central Office.

Changes were made at each site in child protection, intact family services, foster care and foster home licensing. DCFS also implemented new requirements for potential employees by requiring social work or human services degrees for caseworkers and Masters of Social Work degrees for supervisors.

DCFS has achieved significant improvements in adoptions, child safety and caseload reductions.  Accreditation has contributed to those improvements.

“It was no small achievement, given that the accreditation process required DCFS staff to put in thousands of hours preparing for accreditation – all while maintaining full caseloads,” McDonald said.

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 COA is an independent, not-for-profit, internationally recognized accreditor of mental health and social service organizations in the United States and Canada. COA is sponsored by Alliance for Children and Families, Association of Jewish Family and Children’s Agencies, Catholic Charities USA, Child Welfare League of America, Foster Family-based Treatment Association, Lutheran Services in America, National Council For Adoption, National Foundation for Consumer Credit, National Network for Youth, and Prevent Child Abuse America.


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