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CO-OP® Inactive Status Update

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How Inclusivity and Accountability Advance IOA

By Elisa V. Enriquez, LCSW,CO-OP ®, Senior Associate Ombudsman, Los Alamos National Laboratory
Chair, IOA Membership Committee

The International Ombudsman Association (IOA) was established in 2005 with the merger of the University and College Ombuds Association (UCOA) and The Ombudsman Association (TOA) following a period of transformation that led to establishing standards of practice for organizational ombuds. These standards were established on the pillars of neutrality, independence, confidentiality and informality. IOA’s mission is to “support and advance the global organizational ombudsman profession and ensure that practitioners work to the highest professional standards.”

In the 14 years since the inception of IOA, it has been acknowledged that some members must abide by institutional policies within their organizations which can limit their ability to fully adhere to the Standards of Practice, or SOPs. This has led to misunderstandings and those members often feeling excluded. There is tension over what it means to be an association of those in support of the organizational ombuds profession and those who should or should not be a full member of IOA. If members are not able to practice to the Standards, but are able to support the mission and conduct themselves professionally, they are considered full members in good standing by IOA.

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Exciting News from the CO-OP® Board!

Dear IOA Members,

The CO-OP® Board is very pleased to announce broader and more accessible credentialing! The Certification Board and Committees have made changes based on IOA member input.  We have decided to implement a leveling approach to certification. The CO-OP Board feels leveling is an important way to maintain the rigor of certification, while expanding access to credentialing. We recognize that ombuds practice in a variety of settings, and have worked hard to achieve and maintain a professional level of knowledge and experience. We feel that recognizing this with our new credentialing levels will aid in the continued professionalization of our field.

What does this mean? This means that there will be more than one level for credentialing. Some people in our profession who are knowledgeable and experienced ombuds are unable to obtain certification because their organization has requirements that compromise their ability to practice to standards and obtain full certification. One example of this is in the academic sector where some institutions have interpreted reporting requirements related to Title IX or Cleary Act, which technically conflict with the standards of practice for our profession. We want to recognize these ombuds.

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