Green Chimneys Children’s Services in Brewster, NY, is a multi-faceted nonprofit organization helping young people maximize their full potential by providing residential, educational, clinical and recreational services in a safe and supportive environment that nurtures connections with their families, the community, animals and nature. The organization has fully embraced the benefits of accreditation and is a great example of applying the principles of Accreditation in Action.
1. Which accreditation does your agency hold and for how long?
Green Chimneys Children’s Services is proud to hold the following accreditations:
• Council on Accreditation (COA), 16 years
• National Association of Private Special Education Centers (NCASES), 12 years
• National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), 4 years
• American Camp Association (ACA), 16 years
• Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH), 15 years
2. What was the original reason(s) for becoming accredited?
Serving those in need for nearly 70 years, Green Chimneys has always valued accreditation as an effective way to continuously monitor and maintain the highest standards of quality throughout the operations of our agency. Through seeking the most respected accreditations in our field of work, we are measuring ourselves not only based on our own standards, but on the standards set and evaluated by unbiased sources outside our organization.
3. How has accreditation positively impacted the operations or functioning of your organization?
Seeking and attaining accreditation has provided our agency with a positive and valuable impact on our operations and throughout our corporate culture. Through the process of earning accreditation, we have created a solid infrastructure with comprehensive oversight of our policies that, in turn, drive our day-to-day business practices. Following accreditation standards helps guide our communication practices and development of policies and procedures to help mitigate risk and enhance our overall organizational performance.
4. What advice would you give to an organization becoming accredited for the first time?
Our best advice is not to underestimate the amount of time, dedication, and organization involved in working through the accreditation process. Appoint a qualified and dedicated individual to lead the accreditation process and convene a committee or taskforce with representatives from all relevant departments and areas within your organization to help facilitate collaboration and maximize constructive input. This representation not only includes key staff (executives, directors, and line staff), it also should include board members, clients, and other internal and external stakeholders. The accreditation committee should first review the accreditation standards and develop a blueprint that includes defined steps and timely milestones to track the agency’s progress, stimulate momentum, and ensure strategic advancement. It is essential to be prepared to develop and revise standards as deemed necessary and to use this process to internally assess the effectiveness of current policies and procedures. The fundamental goal of earning accreditation illustrates a powerful and valuable means of demonstrating the effectiveness and efficiencies of the services offered to your clients.
5. How did you motivate staff during the self-study and/or site visit phase?
During the accreditation process, we motivate staff by including them from the very beginnings of the process, and we are sure to include the parents and children we serve. We create a supportive atmosphere through shared responsibility, continued support and feedback, and through celebrating our milestones along the way. By mapping out the process via the blueprint, everyone feels the forward momentum and feels like a valued member of the process.
6. What is one way that accreditation has added value to your organization’s name recognition in the community you serve or to your outreach/public relations efforts?
Accreditation gives our brand credibility. Because Green Chimneys has earned several outside accreditations repeatedly over many years, this speaks volumes about our solid organizational practices and our unwavering commitment to the transparency of our agency. Accreditation is a sign of our dedication to continuous self-evaluation and desire for the highest quality programming. We use our accreditations in our outreach efforts through press releases and by including them on our website and in communications and fund raising efforts, among others.
7. Did your organization celebrate becoming (re)accredited? If so, how?
Externally, we celebrate by issuing various press releases to get the word out about each time we reach one of our accreditation accomplishments. Internally, staff and clients gather together to celebrate our successes and, of course, this includes a variety of treats!
8. About Green Chimneys Children’s Services
Long considered a worldwide leader in animal-assisted therapy and nature-based learning, Green Chimneys operates a residential treatment center, an accredited special education school, a farm and wildlife rehabilitation center, a garden and greenhouse program, as well as several mission-related and community-based programs. Our nearly 200-acre campus in Brewster, NY (and additional 350-acre Clearpool campus in Carmel, NY) serves thousands of children and families each year who face debilitating home and community problems and those who are unable to learn in a traditional school environment.
Additional information can be found at www.greenchimneys.org, or by visiting our other social media links: