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Adoption Notice: Upcoming Changes in Accrediting Entity Activities

Last Updated: January 5, 2018

Upcoming Changes in Accrediting Entity Activities

The Department of State is committed to keeping intercountry adoption a viable option for children in need of permanency who cannot find permanent homes in their countries of birth. In order to do this, the priority of the Department of State is to ensure the protection of those children, their birth parents, and their adoptive parents throughout the adoption and immigration processes, and to ensure that placements are in the children’s best interests.

The Department recognizes that most accredited/approved adoption service providers (ASP) operate ethically, in the best interests of children and families, and in compliance with the accreditation regulations. The December 2016 temporary debarment of an adoption service provider soon after the renewal of its accreditation, however, made clear that changes in the accrediting entities’ (AE) execution of their responsibilities is an urgent matter. The Department has communicated its expectations to both designated AEs, the Council on Accreditation (COA) and the Intercountry Adoption and Accreditation Maintenance Entity, Inc. (IAAME).

Specifically, the Department requested that AEs increase their focus on ongoing monitoring and oversight of ASPs to promote greater consistency in compliance with the accreditation regulations that serve to protect children and families. This increased focus will also help to bolster foreign adoption authorities’ confidence in the U.S. accreditation system. 

Accordingly, AE monitoring and oversight activities are expected to focus on the following:

  • Emphasis on ASP capacity and performance with respect to implementation of, rather than merely the existence of, policies or procedures in accordance with 22 CFR 96.27.
  • Heightened monitoring of ASP practices overseas, specifically regarding the standards found in 22 CFR 96.33, 96.34, 96.36, 96.40, 96.46, and 96.49.
  • Examination of ASP financial operations and solvency, as required by 22 CFR 96.33(e), to ensure ASPs:
    • operate on a sound financial basis;
    • maintain sufficient cash reserves, assets or other financial resources to meet their operating expenses for two months; and
    • have a viable plan for reimbursement to clients of funds paid for services not yet rendered if it ceases to provide adoption services.
  • Regular monitoring of the use of foreign supervised providers and confirmation of the existence of written agreements between ASPs and all foreign supervised providers, as described in 22 CFR 96.46(b).
  • Routine monitoring of foreign supervised provider compensation to ensure it is reasonable and in line with 22 CFR 96.34.              
  • Timely and efficient review of complaints and monitoring of compliance with and completion of corrective actions.
  • Data collection and review to enable an AE to identify issues and trends.
  • Consistency in the accreditation and approval review process, including efforts to promote evaluator consistency and reliability. 
  • Routine monitoring of compliance with the AE’s policies and procedures manual, including submission of mandatory self-reports that the Secretary of State has approved and which are thus required under 22 CFR 96.52(e).

As previously discussed, the Department designated IAAME as a second AE with the intent that it would share the AE role and responsibilities with COA. As a result of COA’s subsequent decision to withdraw from the AE role, IAAME and the Department have shifted from aligning the procedures of two AEs to a full transition of AE responsibilities to IAAME as of December 2018. As IAAME develops its implementation plan for the AE roles and responsibilities, the Department expects it will incorporate the activities discussed above as they are essential to effectively overseeing ASPs accredited to work on intercountry adoption in the United States.

This will result in increased monitoring and oversight fees for accredited and approved ASPs. The regulations that govern the accreditation process require AEs to charge fees necessary to cover the cost of fulfilling their accreditation and monitoring and oversight responsibilities (22 CFR 96.8(b)(2)). The Department and IAAME are cognizant of and committed to minimizing the potential impact of fee increases on ASPs.

The Department will provide additional information as soon as it is available. Questions about the information included in this notice may be sent by email to Adoption@state.gov.