Accreditation in Action – MercyFirst

MercyFirst MercyFirst is one of New York’s leading not-for-profit human service agencies. They serve more than 4,000 children and their families, without regard to race, religion, sexual orientation or physical condition, at locations in Brooklyn, Queens and throughout Long Island.

1. Which accreditation do you currently hold?

MercyFirst is presently Council on Accreditation (COA) accredited and Sanctuary certified.

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

MercyFirst is accredited by COA because COA standards are in line with the services and programs we provide and becoming accredited helped to fulfill newly-revised State requirements.

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

COA standards require our agency to operate with a superior level of quality.  It has improved the overall management of our programs, how we look at outcomes and it challenges us to seek ways to reduce risk through improved oversight and tracking of key activities. It also ensures a systematic review of cases and outcomes that result in an improvement in the quality of service provided by our organization. Just as Boards of Trustees get an outside audit on financial matters, one should also be conducted on how well programs operate. COA accreditation does that.

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

Even with a Quality Improvement (QI) Department, the demands of going through COA accreditation are very extensive and time consuming.  An organization has to come into the process wanting to do it and believing that accreditation will help in a positive way with the quality of services the agency provides.   Organizations should talk with other agencies that have been accredited while considering going through the accreditation process since this is a process that the agency must remain committed to. Accreditation is not something that is considered every three to four years as your renewal is close to expiring. It is an on-going process that must become part of your agency’s DNA.   Like anything worthwhile accreditation takes ongoing dedication and commitment.

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

COA Accreditation and Sanctuary Certification must become part of what your organization lives and breathes every day.  It is something that should be re-enforced with staff at every opportunity. It is an accomplishment that staff understands and accepts is part of what you do and part of what they do.   Everyone has a role in achieving it.

6. Did your organization celebrate becoming reaccredited? If so, how?  

Yes!  We invite the entire management team to attend the exit conference with the COA team so that they hear the peer reviewers’ assessments of our agency first-hand.  Each planned celebration is unique; this year we scheduled a BBQ to recognize the work of staff involved in both COA Accreditation and Sanctuary Re-Certification. We appreciate the dedication and commitment of our staff and look for opportunities to show our thanks – COA Accreditation is certainly worth celebrating as an agency.

7. About MercyFirst:

Mission – MercyFirst, a sponsored ministry of the Sisters of Mercy, inspires hope and promotes healing for children and families by providing quality human services and educational opportunities while advocating for social change.

Services provided

  • Family support and after-school programs
  • Family and treatment family foster care
  • Adoption services
  • Group homes and mother/baby residences
  • Campus-based residential treatment, medical and mental health services

Social media links – Like us on FaceBook

Thank you to Gerard McCaffery, President/CEO for participating in Accreditation in Action!

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