Striving for Excellence: Accreditation as a Path to Quality
- Accreditation is pursued in order to validate an agency’s quality and to verify that they are striving for excellence.
- Accreditation is best viewed as an ongoing process of agency-wide improvement and development through which an agency or program strives for excellence. It is a process of recognizing and assessing agencies and programs against accepted standards of performance, integrity, and quality.
Program Wide Improvement: The Benefits of Accreditation
The advantage of accreditation is that it is a single transparent and repeatable approach, which improves consistency, resulting in better risk management. Some of the many benefits include:
- Provides a credible, independently verifiable method of differentiating accredited organizations from non-accredited organizations that may not adhere to important industry standards
- Documents that the agency/program is true to its own foundational statements
(mission, philosophy, and goals)
- Promotes on-going organizational education and improvement through a continuous process of self-assessment
- Sets standards of excellence / affirms that the agency meets standards of quality established by an independent third-party
- Provides validation of the credibility through a voluntary, peer review process
- Provides agencies with a template for high quality services, administration, and governance
- Provides public assurance of quality
- Promotes accountability
- Provides a complete review and written documentation of the program
- Identifies areas of strength and weakness within the organization
- Gives the organization an opportunity to self congratulate for quality services provided
- Gives purpose and direction for long-range strategic planning
- Enables agencies to differentiate themselves in the marketplace
- Enhances services to children and families
- Works as a staff and management team building activity as the organization continues its quality improvement objectives
Accredited Member Programs
For a listing of all accredited member agency programs as listed on IRIS (Integrated Residential Information System), please click here, check Accredited Programs Only and click Search.
Accreditation: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is accreditation?
Accreditation is a quality improvement program that provides official recognition and endorsement that an organization meets, or exceeds, pre-defined standards of excellence. Standards are the foundation of any accreditation program.
What are accreditation standards?
Standards are widely researched, field tested, collaborative rules of practice that have been accepted by a field as a basis of judgement for an average or normal requirement.
What is involved in the accreditation process?
There are several steps. Each accreditation organization has a different process.
The general steps include:
Identification of an “accreditation lead” for your organization
Information gathering from the accrediting body and determination of a contact person
Determination of a timeline followed by the application, registration, or intent to survey completion.
Perform a self evaluation using the appropriate standard set.
Involve all of the staff, managers, and stakeholders
Complete survey preparation and scheduling
Undergo the survey
Develop a plan for addressing recommendations
Stay in touch with the accrediting body throughout the cycle and maintain standards as part of your organization’s culture
Prepare for the next survey
Who is involved in the accreditation process?
Accreditation involves both internal and external evaluation…The people you serve are top of mind. All organizational staff, management, and governance, as well as all stakeholders are involved. The Accreditation organization’s staff and surveyors are involved. Your peers are involved in the standard development process, as surveyors, as mentors, and as collaborators.
What takes place during the self-study portion of accreditation?
The accrediting body provides you with tools and resources to evaluate how well you meet the standards you will need to conform to in order to be accredited. During this time, you can make changes to your programs and services to bring them in line with the standards. Once you feel that you are ready for the actual accreditation review, you submit a formal application for accreditation and apply for a site review/survey by one of the accrediting body’s surveyors.
What is the accreditation site review / survey and what is involved?
An accreditation site review/survey is when your programs and service are evaluated by a surveyor to determine how you have met the standards. The surveyor(s) visit your agency to undertake this review. The length of time needed is dependent on the size of the agency, its volume of services, and the location of its programs.
What are the Costs of Accreditation?
This will vary by accrediting body. You should consult the Accreditation Body’s website and/or call or email. Remember, despite the initial costs, the return on investment is significant.
How long does it take for a service provider to prepare for accreditation?
This will vary depending on the resources you have available, how well you already confirm to the standard set, the accrediting body, among other factors but should take anywhere between 9 months to 1.5 years.
Do we have to submit all our program/service areas for accreditation?
No, you can decide which programs will seek accreditation. It is beneficial to obtain accreditation for all eligible service areas but it is not required.
Can programs and services provided by an individual be accredited?
Yes! When the standards refer to an “organization,” they refer to any business entity, such as an individual, sole proprietorship, partnership, joint venture, or corporation.
Do service providers need to meet all standards to be accredited?
No. The accreditation decision is based on the balance of a service provider’s strengths and areas for improvement. Even service providers that achieve the maximum term of accreditation will likely have areas for improvement identified in their report.
The survey is a tool for quality improvement within organizations that identifies the level of conformance by an organization to a set of standards. Standards identified as not in full conformance are addressed through a Quality Improvement Plan.
Do all residential sites have to be visited during the survey?
If the sites are owned, rented, leased, or operated by the service provider, they all must be visited during the service provider's first survey of this service category. On resurveys, a sampling is conducted. If the sites are privately owned by the persons served, the surveyors will visit by invitation only.
What are the possible accreditation options (i.e. accrediting bodies)?
Have we missed an accrediting body? Please send us an email and we’d be happy to add it to the below list.
Accreditation Canada (http://www.accreditation.ca)
CARF Canada (http://www.carf.org/Programs/CARFCanada/)
FOCUS Accreditation (http://www.focusaccreditation.ca/)
Canadian Centre for Accreditation (http://canadiancentreforaccreditation.ca/)
International Organization for Standardization (ISO) (http://www.iso.org/iso/home.html)