The Story of a Standard: Youth Psychosocial Rehabilitation Standards

Writing standards is a weird gig and an even weirder one to explain. My go-to line when asked the dreaded “so what do you do for a living” question is “I write rules and regulations that organizations have to meet to be accredited.” This is followed by a litany of questions: “Do you like it?” “Yes.” “Can you explain what it is you do exactly?” “Kind of?” But in whatever context in which the what-do-you-do-for-a-living question comes up, there’s no good way to clearly describe my role. My explanation inevitably comes out dry, and doesn’t amount to much more than “I type on a computer all day,” which doesn’t do the job justice. 

The most visceral way to explain standards development is, it’s about breathing life into a concept and then making it concrete and tangible. Which, to someone like me who finds policy exhilarating, is a little bit like magic. If magic were overly concerned with procedures. Now let’s walk-through the evolution of the YPS standards.

Five Critical Steps Closer to Racial Equity on Nonprofit Boards

When have we not been talking about race?  The vocabulary changes over time, and hopefully each verbal evolution brings something new conceptually and leads us to a new place in terms of needed action and results.  But whichever term and concept is in vogue, it is clear that the conversation must keep going. 

This post looks at just one area of particular concern.  That is, diversity of membership among our boards of directors.  Without progress at that level it is almost impossible to achieve real and sustainable change in terms of racial equity toward those we serve.

How to Create a Technology Plan (Yes, You Need One)

There is no doubt that having a technology plan is central to business success.  And nonprofit service delivery is no exception. Customers look for and expect to find many nonprofit services online.

 At its most basic level, a technology plan is a high-level strategy that details where your organization is now and where it wants to go in the future with respect to technology and infrastructure. 

Developing a strategy and understanding the short- and long-term costs of that strategy can seem daunting. Where do we even start? How do we build out our technology? Do we need something more than our current website? What kind of database should we use? Do we need a mobile strategy? These are all great questions. And developing a technology plan can help answer some of these questions and put you on the road to creating a sustainable and purposeful strategy for leveraging technology to meet your mission.

Literary Corner: Five Picks from the COA Community

Books are a valuable tool for professional and personal growth; many social service organizations encourage staff to increase their knowledge and stay engaged with trends in the field by organizing book clubs, establishing office libraries, or allocating professional development funds for book purchases.

Interested in discovering your next great page turner? Luckily, we have a few great recommendations from our well-read stakeholders -- books that inform, inspire, and can influence your work. In this post, check out these great picks from COA’s Community. 

Why Everyone Needs to Know About Mental Health First Aid

Most people are familiar with CPR. In fact, more than 12 million Americans are trained in CPR every year to appropriately respond in case of a cardiac emergency. But what do we do if someone is having a mental health emergency? According to Mental Health America’s 2017 report, one in five adults has a mental health condition. That’s over 40 million Americans, making it arguably more likely to come in contact with someone in an emotional crisis or with a mental illness. Mental Health First Aid (MHFA), is a lesser known but equally important form of emergency assistance. It is a public education program that prepares people to respond to individuals experiencing a mental health crisis. Participants learn how to identify the symptoms associated with mental health disorders, assess for suicide risk, and encourage appropriate intervention or care. 

MHFA has been around for over a decade and it is estimated to be as common as CPR by 2020. In honor of Mental Health month, this article will put a spotlight on MHFA as a catalyst for reducing stigma and improving mental health literacy throughout communities nationwide.

Where is the Download Button? The Importance of Website Design and Usability

How many times have you gone to a website expecting to do something like save, edit, search, pay, or download but can’t figure out how to do it? For a company that relies on their site for client transactions, or marketing and communication purposes, this is bad business. If your customer can’t find what they're looking for because your website is clunky, they aren't coming back anytime soon.In this post we’ll focus on the importance of a good user interface for your website.  We’ll discuss some basic design and usability best practices, share COA’s experience and lessons learned from the launch of our web application – MyCOA, and offer recommendations for next steps.

Exploring the Complexities of Opioid Use Disorder

Throughout, the United States opioids have seeped their way into rural and urban communities, affecting people of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds. Public Health officials are calling the opioid epidemic the worst drug crisis in our country’s history. In this article we explore the complexities of opioid use disorder and discuss the hope provided by advancements in medical technology, shining light on possible solutions to the epidemic.

Why Your Organization Should Enlist an MSW Intern

Tis the season for expounding the virtues of professional social workers. Social work is one of the fastest growing careers in the United States. As of 2017, over 650,000 individuals hold social work degrees. Committed to creating positive change, these individuals go to work everyday to address disadvantage through service delivery and advocacy, while simultaneously influencing broader social issues affecting our most vulnerable citizens. During the fall of 2016, I enrolled in the Advanced Standing Program at Columbia University’s School of Social Work with the desire to contribute to this positive impact. 

As a Master of Social Work (MSW) intern at the Council on Accreditation, and in honor of National Professional Social Work Month, I would like share six reasons why your organization can benefit from having an MSW intern: