Accreditation in Action – Charis Youth Center

Charis Youth Center provides residential, educational and day treatment to emotionally disturbed adolescent Charis Youth Centerboys and girls along with support services to their families. Our non-public special education school is a highly structured, therapeutic, educational and community-based program dedicated to improving the lives of children and families in need since 1984.

1.  Which accreditation does your agency hold and for how long?

We earned a 6 year accreditation from the Western Association for Schools and Colleges (WASC) in June, 2014 for our non-public special education school.

2.  What was the original reason(s) for becoming accredited?

We pursued accreditation to show that we hold ourselves and our agency to the highest standard; the accrediting body has validated our efforts by awarding our agency with accreditation.

3.  How has accreditation impacted the operations or functioning of your organization?

Accreditation has strengthened Charis Youth Center in a number of ways. Through our WASC accreditation, a six year action plan was created to help Charis improve in vulnerable areas and sustain our strengths in the most positive ways. We were able to gather and analyze data to significantly reduce restraints, substantially improve our program and graduation rates, and improve our overall staff retention.

4.  What advice would you give to an organization becoming accredited for the first time?

Accreditation is well worth the hard work and time put into the process. It helps to unite all facets of an organization by exemplifying the positives and highlighting areas of improvement that may otherwise have been overlooked.

5.  How did you motivate staff during the self-study and/or site visit phase?

We gave employees Starbucks gift cards and other gift certificates as well as providing free lunches and healthful snacks along the way to recognize their efforts as a team during the accreditation process.

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?

Many school districts and other state agencies around California now recognize us as a leader in serving emotionally disturbed youth and are interested in placing children with us because we have taken the steps to earn a nationally recognized accreditation. We have also been asked to be the model for non-public schools in our local area.

7.  How did your organization celebrate becoming (re)accredited?

We celebrated our accreditation we holding an agency luncheon that included our youth, staff, administration and board members. In addition, we personally shared our accreditation news with our placing agencies and explained how this would lead to improved services for their students. Further, we included the Seal of the WASC Accreditation on our website and on our agency letterhead to highlight our accredited status.

About Charis Youth Center:

Charis Youth Center’s mission is to provide therapeutic, residential, educational, and vocational services to the learning disabled and emotionally challenged population between the ages of 13-22 years. This special-needs population includes adolescents and their families; adolescents in transition to lesser restrictive environments through the Transitional Housing Program; case-managed, independent-living young adults, 18-22 years of age; and re-entry young adults in preparation and linkage to community-support agencies for their transition into society as productive and contributing citizens.

  • Charis is committed to partnership with families and their community as a valuable colleague and resource.
  • Charis is committed to expand service to meet the growing and changing needs of youth and their families.
  • Charis will seek to hire, train, and develop the most talented and competent people available.

For more information visit their website at

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One Comment

  1. I have worked for a few nonprofits over the years and I definitely agree that becoming accredited has multiple benefits. Certainly, the recognition is terrific. What impressed me the most, though, at each agency, was that going through the accreditation process itself really strengthened operations for the long term. We learned of areas of improvement and were able to make permanent changes that would positively affect both our clients and our bottom line. We became better and more efficient at fulfilling our mission.

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