Accreditation in Action – Hathaway-Sycamores

Hathaway-Sycamores Child and Family Services is one of the largest, nonprofit, private children’s mental-health and welfare agencies inH-S color logo 2009 Los Angeles County and provides a comprehensive range of family-centered, social, educational, preventive and behavioral health programs serving children, adults and families in-need.

1. Which accreditation does your agency hold?

Hathaway-Sycamores Child and Family Services has been accredited by The Joint Commission since 2000.

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

Our state association had been accrediting our organization for a number of years, but to validate that we were providing the highest quality of services and meeting the most rigorous of standards, we choose to pursue accreditation by The Joint Commission.

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

Going through the accreditation process helped our organization focus on performance improvement. Having successfully met these rigorous standards, we felt confident that we were able to provide a higher quality of care to our clients, reduce risk, and address a number of organizational improvements we had not previously tackled.  Accreditation also became the catalyst that launched our journey toward performance excellence that recently resulted in our organization receiving a bronze level Eureka Award, based on the Malcolm Baldrige criteria, from the California Awards for Performance Excellence (CAPETM).

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

We had several false starts on our journey to accreditation. We initially took time to assess which accrediting body was best suited to our organization. After reaching that decision, we then tried to prepare on our own, but had difficulty maintaining the momentum.  After retaining an outside consultant, we were able to get focused and address the items essential for an initial accreditation. From that point on, the process moved forward quickly.

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

Including staff in the accreditation process helped tremendously, especially explaining why we were embarking on this journey and how this would improve our agency. The next most important step centered on standard interpretation – putting into understandable language why a standard was important – and how it helped us improve service delivery. The Joint Commission utilizes a tracer methodology for review; today our staff members are disappointed if a case is not chosen because they want to share the work they are doing on behalf of our clients.

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 are proud to share the fact that we are accredited by The Joint Commission and we include this information in all of our outreach and public relations efforts. Our county partners, who provide referrals, also recognize the value of accreditation. From an overarching perspective, accreditation has enhanced our agency’s professional reputation.

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

Becoming accredited was a major success for our agency in 2000 and – at various events throughout the year – we thanked our staff and together celebrated this achievement. The process of reaccreditation also presents an opportunity to recognize the outstanding work our staff does day in and day out. Reaccreditation is a taxing process, so we make a point to let our staff members know how much we appreciate the extra effort that reaccreditation requires.

8. About the organization:

Hathaway-Sycamores Child and Family Services, which is one of the largest nonprofit private children’s mental-health and welfare agencies in Los Angeles County, provides a comprehensive continuum of services to more than 9,000 children and families annually through a network of facilities stretching across the greater Los Angeles area including the San Fernando Valley, San Gabriel Valley, and the Antelope Valley. Services include a residential-treatment center for youth ages 6 through 18, foster care and adoption services, a nonpublic school, school-based and outpatient mental-health services, wraparound and in-home counseling services, a transitional-living program for teens and young adults, a family resource center, and a grief and loss center for children. The agency is licensed by the California Department of Social Services, certified by the Los Angeles Department of Mental Health, and accredited by The Joint Commission. To learn more about our organization, visit

William P. Martone, President and Chief Executive Officer

Our mission:

Cultivating hope and resilience to enrich the well-being of children, adults, families and communities.

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