NCA’s National Standards of Accreditation

Ensuring continual improvement of the high-quality care children and families deserve

To ensure that all children across the U.S. served by Children’s Advocacy Centers (CACs) receive consistent, evidence-based services that help them heal from abuse, 775 of our member CACs have become Accredited by meeting our National Standards of Accreditation, and all 50 State Chapters have met the Standards for Accredited Chapter Members. About every five years, these standards are updated to reflect the latest evidence and practice. Then, we work with our Accredited Member CACs and Accredited Chapters on a five-year cycle to help them meet these new, higher standards of practice and, for CACs, we perform site reviews to ensure children receive the highest quality services possible. Every child deserves all we can do.


National Standards of Accreditation for Children’s Advocacy Centers

The collected National Standards of Accreditation for Children’s Advocacy Centers, comprising 10 individual standards and representing the work of more than 130 child abuse intervention professionals and experts working from the latest research, are the benchmarks by which Accredited Members of NCA are measured. The newly revised standards below took effect January 1, 2023.

The 2023 edition of Putting Standards into Practice is an expanded version—all the content of the 2023 National Standards with real-life Practical Approaches to help new and transitioning CAC leaders and those approaching the accreditation process for the first time to conceptualize the myriad ways CACs can meet each standard. The “Blue Book” is not an exhaustive list of possible ways to meet the standards, but rather a way to start the conversation of how centers can meet each standard in a way that fits their strengths and situation.

NCA members can read both books online, download a PDF for free, or order print copies of both the 2023 National Standards and 2023 Putting Standards into Practice books. You pay only the cost for shipping the books.

Finally, for the first time, NCA offers a set of three optional Standards of Accreditation for CACs interested in advancing their practice in critical new horizons of service delivery. The green volume below, National Optional Standards of Accreditation for Children’s Advocacy Centers, outlines optional standards in service provision to serve child victims of commercial sexual exploitation and physical abuse, as well as to engage in child abuse prevention services. While CACs seeking accreditation need only meet the 10 mandatory standards, centers opting into the optional standards must meet any to which they commit, as well as the 10 mandatory standards, to receive accreditation. Read the National Optional Standards online or download a PDF for free.

An Annotated Bibliography to the NCA Standards

Following the science toward continual improvement of care

About every five years, when a new accreditation standards revision starts, it begins with a survey of all the new research relevant to the provision of child abuse intervention services to children and families. During this stage, NCA commissions an update to the bibliographic of the empirical and scholarly literature supporting the Standards. For the 2020 edition of the Annotated Bibliography, NCA engaged the Chadwick Center for Children and Families at Rady Children’s Hospital San Diego to identify and summarize new research, published between 2014 and 2019 (2014-2019), providing additional support for the standards for accreditation. In addition to the ten standards of accreditation, three additional areas of focus were included in this bibliography: child abuse prevention, commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) as defined by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Programs (OJJDP), and child physical abuse. A panel of topic experts then reviewed the literature collected by the Chadwick Center team, identifying 76 new scholarly articles for inclusion.

The Annotated Bibliography is available below as the scientific foundation for NCA’s Standards and their iterative improvement.

For hard copies

Contact our Accreditation team at with questions. Hard copies of the 2023 National Standards of Accreditation for Children’s Advocacy Centers and the 2023 Putting Standards into Practice are available for purchase.

Standards for Accredited Chapter Members

The 2020 Edition of the Standards for Accredited Chapters outlines the high standards of practice for our State Chapter Organizations, providing advocacy, training, and other services to the CAC movements in each of the 50 states. This edition includes guidelines and sample strategies for the achievement of the standards. The new Chapter Standards took effect January 1, 2020, and are currently in effect.

Update to the Chapter Standards

On June 8, 2021, the NCA Board of Directors ruled to amend the Organizational Capacity Standard, Essential Component I, to tie this requirement to the current federal threshold. Thus, as this threshold has changed, the Essential Component Language was amended to the following:

The Chapter and/or its governing agency engages in an annual independent financial audit when its gross annual revenue meets or exceeds $750,000. The audit must be based on gross annual revenue, including all pass-through funds. Organizations whose annual gross revenue falls below $750,000 and meets or exceeds $200,000 must conduct a CPA-completed financial review. Those organizations with gross annual revenue below $200,000 must provide their Board-approved financial statements.

For more

Contact our Accreditation team at with questions. The Chapter Standards may be printed for distribution by NCA members free of charge.

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