BEYOND BEHAVIORAL HEALTH: The Joint Commission Expands Its Profile in Child Welfare.

The Joint Commission’s behavioral health care accreditation program has undergone some transformative changes in recent months.  These changes are expansive in their consideration for adoption, family preservation, foster and kinship care and child protective services.  The Joint Commission is also leveraging best practice, federal regulation and the utilization of terms familiar to human service providers to enhance their efforts.

Recently, Julia Finken, BSN, MBA, CPHQ, CSSBB, Executive Director of Behavioral Health Care and Human Services accreditation program, expanded on the motivation behind the development of the new/revised standards for child welfare agencies.  “The Joint Commission wants to make sure that our child welfare accreditation is contemporary, relevant and supports child welfare agencies in delivering the highest quality of services for this vulnerable population of children and families,” said Julia.

To better reflect Joint Commission accredited organizations providing social services in community settings, services for people with intellectual/developmental disabilities and foster care for children and adolescents, the name of The Joint Commission’s behavioral health care accreditation program has changed to Behavioral Health Care and Human Services accreditation program.  Additionally, new and revised requirements for child welfare services and language changes to standards have been created and will become effective on September 13, 2020.

An extensive literature review, a public field review, several pilot surveys, and guidance from an advisory panel of subject matter experts from the child welfare field were provided.  Also contributing were a standards review panel of clinicians and administrators who gave a “boots on the ground” perspective and insights into the practical application of the proposed standards.

Accreditation Guru’s founder and CEO, Jennifer Flowers, was invited to participate in the development process as a member of the standards review panel.  “I was honored to be included in shaping the future of Joint Commission standards for child welfare service providers,” said Jennifer.  “During the review, I often reflected on the impact (positive or not) of the proposed standards on current and former clients’ operations and service delivery and how the standards may be interpreted.”

A large body of work in both qualitative and quantitative research revealed the importance of an accreditation process with a social service model and humanistic approach tailored to specific child welfare service lines.  Also notable was the identification of specific leading practices in the child welfare industry. The child welfare services provider research also indicated that the most important standards in the child welfare industry revolved around case management and service coordination.

As a result, 74 new and 12 revised elements of performance will be incorporated into Joint Commission-applicant and accredited child welfare agencies as well as revised language in existing standards to be more inclusive of human services (

The Joint Commission is offering a free day of virtual learning focused on the new enhanced Child Welfare accreditation. Register at:

Accreditation Guru’s expert consultants are available to determine applicability of these new/revised requirements to your organization’s services and to help you implement these new/revised requirements.

For more information or questions about the contents of this article, please write or call Peggy Lavin @   This post contains original content and was written for Accreditation Guru, Inc. Use of this copy is permitted with credit and reference within the same body of copy to Accreditation Guru, Inc.

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