“Accreditation is one organizational investment that will keep giving, return after return, on your initial investment.” – Rob Edwards, EVP, Anu Family Services
Anu Family Services has a 22-year history of providing innovative solutions to help create permanence, safety and wellbeing for children and their families. Services include treatment foster care, parent coaching and intensive trauma services throughout Wisconsin. The organization has fully embraced and benefited from being nationally accredited, as highlighted below.
1. Which accreditation does your agency hold and for how long?
Anu Family Services has been accredited by the Council on Accreditation since our inception in 1992; we were recently reaccredited for the next four years.
2. What was the original reason for becoming accredited?
Anu Family Services became accredited and continues to maintain accreditation because accreditation demonstrates to all of our stakeholders, including our staff, our peers, internal and external consumers and the public that our agency consistently maintains nationally accepted accreditation standards.
3. How has accreditation positively impacted the operations or functioning of your organization?
COA Accreditation has given Anu Family Services the opportunity to assess whether or not our practice meets the ‘gold’ standard of national accreditation, during our initial accreditation and each time we are up for accreditation renewal. We consistently evaluate our programming to assure that we are achieving the outcomes that are most important to our clients. The Performance and Quality Improvement (PQI) process laid out in COA standards helps to create a context for the continuous quality improvement activities of the organization. Operating within a PQI framework has become part of our organizational culture along with our desire to make sound decisions informed by data. We consistently share our findings widely with all appropriate stakeholders. While the process of reaccreditation is lengthy and draws upon all organizational resources, it remains one of our key scheduled activities as we strive to achieve holistic and comprehensive successes in our field.
4. What advice would you give to an organization becoming accredited for the first time?
Make sure, when preparing for accreditation, that you understand the meaningful opportunities that becoming accredited will provide your agency. Sure, it’s a lot of work. But accreditation can serve as a catalyst for building a new knowledge base, strengthening your team as well as a strong organizational culture and can be a great way to acclimate new staff to best practices in your field. Both accreditation and reaccreditation have the ability to strengthen not only your day-to-day operations, but how you are perceived by others within your community.
5. How did you motivate staff during the self-study and/or site visit phase?
Because we have gone through the accreditation/reaccreditation process for a number of years, we had a number of accreditation specialists on staff when we began our most recent reaccreditation process. While our staff members already formed a cohesive team, by organizing smaller teams around COA standards that closely aligned with each member’s particular role we were able to directly engage more than 50 percent of our staff in activities related to the reaccreditation process and the standards reviews. Those who were not directly participating were kept informed of how our agency was progressing and about specific examples of activities underway from their peers who were more closely involved.
Ultimately, we had several standards teams who were able to collaborate with one another to get the job done. When a team reached a milestone we celebrated that success as a larger committee and continued toward our next objective. One key aspect of the process that fostered teamwork and contributed to our successful outcome was the frequency of our meetings and that we confirmed the time and date of the next meeting before each meeting ended. Also during the larger meeting, notes were taken and small groups organized with one another to facilitate future talking points. This set the precedence that the need for teamwork extended beyond the larger group and that the large group was capable of being effective so long as smaller groups achieved their targets.
6. What is one way that accreditation has added value to you organization’s name recognition in the community you serve or to your outreach/public relations efforts?
We mention our accredited status in all our stakeholder communications. Our stakeholders recognize the value of our accreditation and what it brings to our agency. Our stakeholders seek our services, in part, because we are nationally accredited.
7. How did your organization celebrate becoming re-accredited?
We certainly did celebrate! Our board of directors and CEO acknowledged the efforts of specific individuals and in the roles they played during the process. We celebrated each milestone in the process as an organization. As we progressed, board members and staff received timely status updates. We kept attune to the needs of staff by assuring that the process be transparent, informative and placed a high value on the efficient use of our people’s time.
About Anu Family Services
Mission – We create permanent connections to loving and stable families.
Vision – We will be the best in the world at creating permanent connections to loving and stable families, and share our expertise to improve as many lives as possible.
Values – We carry out our mission by:
- Developing flexible and innovative solutions.
- Building on strengths and welcoming differences.
- Insuring best practices and industry leadership.
- Working with individual drive and collective passion.
- Guiding our decisions by ethics and integrity.
Goal – Our long-term goal is to become the agency of choice providing the last placement prior to permanency for at least 90% of the children we serve.
Rob Edwards, MSW, LGSW, APSW, Executive Vice President
Anu Family Services, Inc
901 Fourth St. Suite 180, Hudson, WI 54016