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Intercountry Adoption News

Adoption Notice: FAQ: Newly Designated Accrediting Entity, IAAME

August 25, 2017

On August 8, 2017, the Department of State announced the designation of Intercountry Adoption Accreditation and Maintenance Entity, Inc., (IAAME) as an accrediting entity. The Office of Children’s Issues will provide additional details as they become available but hopes the following information addresses some preliminary questions. 

Q: Who is IAAME?

The Intercounty Adoption Accreditation and Maintenance Entity (IAAME) is a newly formed 501(c)(3) organization created for the sole purpose of the accreditation, approval, monitoring and oversight of adoption service providers providing intercounty adoption services.  IAAME operates as a subsidiary of Service Management Solutions for Children, Inc., and shares leadership with the Partnership for Strong Families (PSF), the lead agency for child welfare services in Florida Circuits 3 and 8. IAAME will be led by the Intercountry Adoption Accreditation Director, Ms. Kim Loughe.  The Director will serve as the liaison between IAAME and the Department of State and will provide oversight and leadership of all transition plans and operationalization activities. 

Key IAAME personnel involved in intercountry adoption accreditation, approval, monitoring, and oversight will be:

Stephen Pennypacker – President/CEO

Stephen Pennypacker, Esq., joined PSF as President and CEO in April 2014. Mr. Pennypacker has more than 19 years’ experience working in child welfare as an attorney and administrator and most recently served as Assistant Secretary for Programs for the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF.) In this role, his duties included oversight of policy development, rule-making and maintenance of programs for adoptions, domestic violence, foster care, adult protection, homelessness, child care licensing, background screening, federal compliance, federal grants, quality assurance and contract management for Florida’s child protection system. He managed a multi-million dollar budget and worked regularly with the Legislature and the Governor’s office.

Prior to this role, Mr. Pennypacker was the national president for the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children, served as a Deputy Director for Children’s Legal Services and presided as General Magistrate for the Eighth Judicial Circuit in Florida. He also worked for the Florida State Attorney’s office at the time DCF began to privatize, managed the local pilot project for Children’s Legal Services, and spent 15 years in private practice prior to concentrating his career in child welfare. Mr. Pennypacker is a graduate of P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School and went on to receive a Bachelor’s in Political Science from Duke University. He returned to Gainesville to attend law school at the University of Florida, where he remains an Adjunct Professor today teaching adoption law. 

Michael Reneke – CFO

Michael Reneke was named CFO for PSF in 2015. Mr. Reneke joined PSF as a Senior Contract Manager in 2005, becoming Director of Special Services in 2007. He was promoted to Senior Vice President of Finance and Administration in 2010 and added oversight of PSF’s Information Technology, Finance, and Risk Management to his responsibilities in Contract Management and Quality Assurance.

Mr. Reneke’s 22 year work history in children services includes public sector experience as a Senior Public Assistance Specialist and a Grants Analyst with the State of Florida’s Department of Children and Families. He also served with the Agency for Workforce Innovation, where he designed contracting and financial practices and worked extensively with local boards on the design and implementation of their own unique systems. He helped design the audit and monitoring practices still being used by the State of Florida today and conducted audits throughout the state. Mr. Reneke also has experience working with Early Learning Coalitions, collaborating with the Florida Legislature’s Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability, participating in legislative reviews, and working with the Office of the Inspector General. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of West Florida.

Kim Loughe – Intercountry Adoption Accreditation Director

Kim Loughe, employed with Partnership for Strong Families since 2004, will serve as IAAME’s Intercountry Adoption Accreditation Director. Ms. Loughe has 24 years working within DCF and the private child mental health and child welfare arenas. Early in her career, Ms. Loughe worked as a Case Manager with a local community mental health provider, working with children in need of psychiatric residential treatment. She began working with the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) in 1988 as a Public Assistance Specialist, progressing to Foster Care Counselor working with children in the dependency system within the foster care unit to address safety, well-being, and permanency, and later served as a Senior Human Service Specialist in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Program Office. Ms. Loughe is certified by DCF and is a Safety Practice Expert for the Florida Decision Making Methodology and is currently PSF’s Director of Program Quality and Contract Management. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in sociology from the University of Florida. 

Q: What qualifies IAAME to be a designated AE?

IAAME is a designated AE under the IAA and 22 CFR 96.5 as “an organization described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, that has expertise in developing and administering standards for entities providing child welfare services.” Although IAAME is a newly formed organization, it is operated by staff with extensive experience in providing child welfare services, administering child welfare standards, contracting, licensing, monitoring, and domestic adoption services. Through an extensive review process, the Department determined IAAME meets the eligibility requirements under Section 202(a)(2) of the IAA and 22 CFR 96.5 and demonstrates the capacity to perform AE duties as required by the IAA and the UAA.  

Q: How can I communicate with IAAME?

IAAME’s AE responsibilities have not yet commenced. Accredited adoption service providers should continue to interact with the Council on Accreditation (COA) regarding all accreditation matters.  Questions about IAAME may be directed to the Office of Children’s Issues by email to Adoption@state.gov.  

Q: Why did the Department designate a second AE?

22 CFR 96.4 authorizes the Department to designate more than one AE and to impose limits on an AE’s jurisdiction. The Department has designated multiple AEs in the past. From 2008- 2013, both COA and the Colorado Department of Human Services (DHS) were designated AEs. The Department periodically issues a Request for Statements of Interest (RSI) to become a designated AE in order to offer eligible organizations the opportunity to take on this important role. An RSI issued in 2013, in preparation for the implementation of the Universal Accreditation Act (UAA) did not result in the designation of additional AEs. The Department was pleased to receive submissions from multiple organizations in response to the March 31, 2017, RSI and believes the designation of multiple AEs will provide opportunities for collaboration that will enhance each organization’s execution of AE duties and responsibilities. 

Q: Is COA still an AE?

Yes, the Department renewed COA’s designation as an AE on July 11, 2016, for a period of five years, and is pleased to continue its working relationship with COA.

Q: How will AE jurisdiction be divided between IAAME and COA?

This will be determined by the Department, in consultation with IAAME and COA. The Department will notify ASPs and the public about jurisdictional decisions as soon as possible thereafter. 

Q: When will IAAME begin acting as an AE?

IAAME’s responsibilities as an AE will commence upon: 1) the Department of State’s approval of systems, procedures, and a fee schedule that will be coordinated as necessary to ensure consistency in accreditation systems and procedures used by both AEs; and 2) the Department of State’s determination of jurisdictional parameters. 

Q: For ASPs due for renewal of accreditation next year, which AE will they work with? 

The AEs and the Department will have a series of meetings in the coming months to align processes. Until further notice, accredited ASPs should continue to work with COA on all accreditation, approval, monitoring, and oversight matters.

Q: I just paid all my accreditation fees to COA; what happens if I’m transferred to work with IAAME?

As the Department identifies jurisdictions for each AE, there will be further discussion about transfer of fees, cases, records, and other matters relevant to ASPs who will be working with IAAME.  The Department will notify and provide guidance directly to affected ASPs.

Q: I am a FL based agency. Does this mean I will automatically be working with IAAME?

Not necessarily. The Department has not made any decisions about jurisdiction for the AEs.