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Health and Family Services Cabinet
State’s human services program reaccredited; Department meets Council on Accreditation’s national best practice standards

Press Release Date:  Thursday, February 08, 2007  
Contact Information:  Anya Armes Weber, (502) 564-6180 or Vikki Franklin, (502) 564-7042  


FRANKFORT, Ky. (Feb. 8, 2007) – The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services’ (CHFS) Department for Community Based Services (DCBS) – the state’s human services agency – has been reaccredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA).

COA officials and CHFS leaders made the announcement in a ceremony today at the Capitol rotunda.

The reaccreditation means that DCBS’ child and adult protective services and foster care and adoption programs meet the highest national standards and deliver the best quality services to the community.

CHFS Secretary Mark D. Birdwhistell said he is proud of the work of the more than 4,700 DCBS staff.

“COA reaccreditation confirms what this administration already knew - that our staff is dedicated, hard working, and provides high quality services to the citizens of Kentucky,” Birdwhistell said.

COA is an international, independent, not-for-profit, child- and family-service and behavioral health care accrediting organization. Founded in 1977 by the Child Welfare League of America and Family Service America, COA partners with human service organizations worldwide to improve service delivery outcomes by developing, applying and promoting accreditation standards. 

Richard Klarberg, COA president and chief executive officer, presented a plaque to Mark A. Washington, commissioner of the Department for Community Based Services, and Eugene Foster, Ed.D., former undersecretary for Children and Family Services and a consultant for child welfare in the Commission for Children with Special Health Care Needs.

“Accreditation is a rigorous process of self-evaluation that requires agencies to continuously strive for quality improvement,” Klarberg said. “It is not an end, but a means to an end. The Department for Community Based Services’ reaccreditation is a testament to its commitment to meeting the highest standards in the field and delivering the best possible services to Kentucky’s most vulnerable populations.”

DCBS was originally accredited in 2002 after being the first state to voluntarily apply for national accreditation. Three other states, Illinois, Louisiana and Arkansas, are accredited. Eight others are in the process or have made application to be accredited.

COA has accredited or is in the process of accrediting more than 1,800 private and public organizations that serve more that 7 million individuals and families in North America.

The COA review process heavily relies on “peer reviews,” where small groups of human service professionals from across North America do on-site evaluations. Peer review teams visiting Kentucky randomly chose between three and six counties in each of the cabinet’s former 16 regions.

Since last summer’s reviews, DCBS has been realigned into nine regions to provide more consistency in services and to strengthen the department’s front lines.

COA compares agencies to a set of national standards for 38 different human service areas and more than 60 types of programs.

Tom Emberton Jr., CHFS undersecretary for Children and Family Services, said the COA accreditation and evaluation mean significant advantages for staff and customers.

“Staff is deservedly pleased with the endorsement, and clients benefit from that,” he said. “The accreditation encourages us to work closely with our community partners so our quality of services remains strong.”

Emberton said COA reviewers consistently made the same comment: “The difference in case work quality is like night and day. The quality of services has dramatically improved since the last accreditation site visits."

Also since DCBS’ original accreditation process began, the number of front line staff with an academic degree in a related human services field has risen from 20 percent to 80 percent. Then, 10 percent of child welfare supervisors had a human services-related master’s degree. Now, that number is 50 percent.

“We are doing more than just maintaining good standards of practice,” Emberton said. “We’re improving our resources and services at every level and giving our staff a larger stake in the process.”

COA accreditation lasts four years.

To learn more about its standards and services, visit the COA Web site at www.coanet.org

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Last Updated 2/8/2007