Dear Faith Families.

As you have received prior notice from us, COA, the accrediting entity, failed to issue our re-accreditation by the expiration date of March 31, 2018.  They had all of the material that they requested in order to review our case on March 29, 2018, the date of the scheduled commission meeting.  COA advised us on March 30, 2018 that they were too busy to complete the agency reviews and issued a deferral notice saying they would complete the review in early April.  This last few months COA has been busy getting all of the agency files ready to be transferred to IAAME, the new accrediting entity by April 1, 2018.  On April 2, 2018 the Department of State issued a notice that IAAME has taken over oversight and monitoring of all the agencies.

Over the weekend we received notice from COA that the Department of State had issued them an email late Friday saying that if the accreditation was not issued before the expiration date of March 31, 2018, that they would deem this inaction on the part of COA as a refusal to re-accredit.  The Department of State quoted sections of the CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) to support their position.  They are CFR 96.33(c) and 96.77(c).  Both of these codes are listed out here for your review.  The two provisions of the Code actually give COA the discretion to defer its decision and permit agencies to remedy any concerns.  The Department of State confirmed this in their 12/08/2017 publication entitled Notice:  FAQ on the Accrediting Entity Transition.  Here is the section on how the transition will impact ASP’s seeking re-accreditation:

How will the transition impact ASP’s seeking re-accreditation?
 
All ASPs seeking renewal of their accreditation or approval in 2018 will complete the renewal process with COA. According to the November 20 email from COA to all accredited/approved ASPs, COA will accept renewal applications from ASPs that: 1) are currently accredited or approved with an expiration date sometime in 2018; 2) file a complete application, complete the renewal agreement, and make payment of the fee by December 29, 2017, and 3) agree to complete a site visit by May 31, 2018.
 
IAAME will re-accredit all ASPs seeking renewal in 2019 or later. For those ASPs needing re-accreditation in January, February, March, and April 2019, IAAME will follow COA’s procedures regarding tables of evidence without change. For those needing re-accreditation beginning May 2019 and later, IAAME will disseminate new policies and procedures for accreditation or approval, as required by 22 CFR 96.19(b), by the spring of 2018.

As you can see, DOS clearly stated that COA will complete the renewal process for all ASPs seeking renewal in 2018.  COA has not refused to renew our accreditation.  In fact, they issued a deferral notice saying that they were not able to review our case prior to the expiration date and that it would be reviewed at the next commission meeting.

Here are the relevant CFRs that the Department of State quoted in its notice that our accreditation expired before COA issued a final decision.  It is important to note that the Department of State did not quote an actual CFR section that said “if an accrediting entity allows the agency’s accreditation to expire this will be interpreted to constitute a refusal to renew.”

96.63(c) The accrediting entity must process the request for renewal in a timely fashion. 

Before deciding whether to renew the accreditation or approval of an agency or person, the accrediting entity may, in its discretion, advise the agency or person of any deficiencies that may hinder or prevent its renewal and defer a decision to allow the agency or person to correct the deficiencies. The accrediting entity must notify the accredited agency, approved person, and the Secretary in writing when it renews or refuses to renew an agency’s or person’s accreditation or approval. 

As you can see the CFR does not say anything about the AE’s failure to timely process as constituting a refusal to renew.  In fact, it states that the AE can defer a decision to allow the agency to correct the deficiencies.

§ 96.77   Responsibilities of the accredited agency, approved person, and accrediting entity following adverse action by the accrediting entity.

(a) If the accrediting entity takes an adverse action against an agency or person, the action will take effect immediately unless the accrediting entity agrees to a later effective date.

(b) If the accrediting entity suspends or cancels the accreditation or approval of an agency or person, the agency or person must immediately, or by any later effective date set by the accrediting entity, cease to provide adoption services in all Convention cases. In the case of suspension, it must consult with the accrediting entity about whether to transfer its Convention adoption cases and adoption records. In the case of cancellation, it must execute the plans required by §§96.33(e) and 96.42(d) under the oversight of the accrediting entity, and transfer its Convention adoption cases and adoption records to other accredited agencies, approved persons, or a State archive, as appropriate. When the agency or person is unable to transfer such Convention cases or adoption records in accordance with the plans or as otherwise agreed by the accrediting entity, the accrediting entity will so advise the Secretary who, with the assistance of the accrediting entity, will coordinate efforts to identify other accredited agencies or approved persons to assume responsibility for the cases, and to transfer the records to other accredited agencies or approved persons, or to public domestic authorities, as appropriate.

(c) If the accrediting entity refuses to renew the accreditation or approval of an agency or person, the agency or person must cease to provide adoption services in all Convention cases upon expiration of its existing accreditation or approval. It must take all necessary steps to complete its Convention cases before its accreditation or approval expires. It must also execute the plans required by §§96.33(e) and 96.42(d) under the oversight of the accrediting entity, and transfer its pending Convention cases and adoption records to other accredited agencies, approved persons, or a State archive, as appropriate. When the agency or person is unable to transfer such Convention cases or adoption records in accordance with the plans or as otherwise agreed by the accrediting entity, the accrediting entity will so advise the Secretary who, with the assistance of the accrediting entity, will coordinate efforts to identify other accredited agencies or approved persons to assume responsibility for the cases and to transfer the records to other accredited agencies or approved persons, or to public domestic authorities, as appropriate.

(d) The accrediting entity must notify the Secretary, in accordance with procedures established in its agreement with the Secretary, when it takes an adverse action that changes the accreditation or approval status of an agency or person. The accrediting entity must also notify the relevant State licensing authority as provided in the agreement.

96.77(c) deals with the situation where there is an adverse action (suspension or cancellation) and specifically notes that this situation occurs when  the accrediting entity refuses to renew the accreditation.  COA has not refused to accredit the agencies but, according to 96.33(c) defer their judgment on accreditation and the December 20, 2017 FAQ published by State, deferred their decision to allow the agencies to correct the deficiencies. 

COA seems to be operating pursuant to the CFRs, their MOU with the Department of State and prior practices.  COA  has not refused to reissue accreditation.

Faith has taken steps to make sure that each and every client’s files are protected and that they remain in their respective programs without any harm coming to them.  Agencies have offered and agreed to take over as the primary providers.  We will be advising each of you how this will work and give you the contact information for the supporting agencies.

 

Comments are closed.