Accreditation in Action – Hillsides

Hillsides is a premier provider of comprehensive, community-based and residential treatment services aimed at improving the overall well-being and functioning of vulnerable children, youth and their families in Los Angeles County. PrintThe agency’s vision is to create positive, lasting change in the lives of the at-risk children and families they serve. Hillsides provides the highest quality care, via innovative services and advocacy, thereby promoting safe, secure environments where families can continue to thrive together.

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

Hillsides Support Services earned accreditation from the Council on Accreditation (COA) in January of 2013.  This was our first accreditation.

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

We became accredited to create a framework for ongoing performance quality improvement, to increase organizational accountability, formalize policies and procedures and to achieve standardized best practice thresholds for service and administration within our organization.

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

The benefits of being accredited for our agency include a commitment to providing the highest quality services, improved and ongoing stakeholder involvement, continuous quality improvement, sound financial policies and procedures, risk management practices and a focus on health and safety. Another huge benefit for us included a revamping of our policies and procedures agency-wide, while at the same time centralizing our operational systems.

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

It is crucial to take advantage of the many tools that COA offers, such as the standards posted and detailed on the COA website, various checklists, webinars and live trainings. Hillsides also created a COA Coordinator position within the agency, hired an accreditation consultant and created a COA Committee to work through the process together.

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

During this process we created a COA bulletin that highlighted COA standards and distributed it to everyone throughout our agency. We created an “Acts of Excellence Award” whereas an award recipient will have demonstrated one or many acts of excellence in keeping with the Hillsides Code of Conduct.  These awards were announced and distributed during a Hillsides staff breakfast. In addition, we created “Breakfast Bucks” that encouraged staff to earn ‘pretend’ money for demonstrating knowledge of Hillsides’ various policies and procedures. Staff members were given prizes for the most dollars earned. This was a huge success!

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?

Accreditation validates that high quality services are being delivered,  help us better prepare for audits, demonstrates the efficiency of our organization, puts risk management protections in place and can be used as a benchmark for identifying potential grant recipients.

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

Hillsides was recognized by our Board of Directors and our COA Committee celebrated as well.

8. About Hillsides’ programs for children and families —

Hillsides’ four core programs offer a depth and breadth of innovative services for at-risk children and their families:

Residential Treatment Services – Provide a safe and stable environment for children and youth who cannot live at home, who have suffered trauma, or who have severe emotional, psychological, and behavioral challenges requiring specialized care and treatment.

Hillsides Education Center – As a therapeutic residential and day school, we offer individualized education for students with social-emotional, learning, or behavior challenges for children in kindergarten through 12th grade.

Family Resource Centers – Partner with communities and schools throughout Los Angeles County to offer at-risk families and children counseling, parenting classes, mental health support, and additional resources to secure family environments.

Youth Moving On – With support from the Everychild Foundation, YMO provides former foster youth affordable quality housing and numerous support services to help them transition successfully to adulthood.

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