By Susan N. Dreyfus, president and CEO of the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities and Jody Levison-Johnson, president and CEO of the Council on Accreditation

The challenges of a global pandemic and economic shutdown have placed unprecedented strains on social and human services sector organizations. And yet the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities and the Council on Accreditation have risen to these challenges. 

At the Alliance, we continue to work across the sector to promote values-based advocacy and have joined voices with colleagues to successfully advocate for PPP loans, a universal charitable tax deduction, and increased support for both small and larger nonprofits.  We have also accelerated our efforts to impact the field and move systemic change through the lens of equity.

COA continues its work as a leader in the field of accreditation, bringing the rigor of science and independent, evidence-based standards to more than 1600 human and social service organizations. COA is also working in dynamic ways to help organizations pivot to managing operations in today’s virtual world by helping them ensure quality and effective management strategies that adapt and respond to today’s challenges.

And, while we each have accomplished so much in our own right, we know we can achieve even more together.

That is why the Alliance and COA entered into a due diligence process to explore merging our organizations into one that amplifies our collective assets to ensure that organizations in the social and human services sector have access to the tools, strategies, resources and policies that can help all families achieve well-being. Together, we would increase reach to create an inclusive, multifaceted, and larger cross-sector network of partners (beyond existing COA- accredited organizations and current Alliance members). By joining and elevating our voices across the sector through greater engagement with partners and like-minded organizations, we hope to deepen and enrich our impact and network across the field. Our goal would be to create a new organization that will diversify the opportunities for engagement, offer multiple entry points and on-ramps for participation and increase the impact of our network, field and sector.

Our organizations have a rich history of collaboration, with Family Services America, the forebear of the Alliance, launching COA in partnership with the Child Welfare League of America in 1977 as an independent organization. By working together on a values-driven and data-informed approach, we believe we can better meet the challenges of today and be a leading force for positive change, including values-based advocacy, curated best practices and research, and innovations in practice and system implementation for the future.

From now through October, our Joint Negotiation Task Force will move through the due diligence process and develop a Memorandum of Understanding that would guide the merger process moving forward. This information will be shared with Alliance and COA members and partners and will inform the vote of the Alliance and COA boards and the Alliance membership vote that will take place shortly thereafter. Our goal is to ensure all questions are answered before we decide to take this momentous step together.

We thank everyone across the Alliance and COA organizations, including our members, stakeholders, partners, clients, and staff for your ongoing commitment to our work and the excellence of our sector and we look forward to continuing this vital work together.