The Youth Opportunity Center (YOC), located in Muncie, Indiana, is dedicated to helping at risk children and families in life changing ways. Since the early 1990’s, the YOC has provided a safe place for troubled children and families to work together toward a brighter future. Now, almost two decades later, hundreds of children and families in need have been helped by the over 380 YOC staff members who dedicate themselves each day to making a difference in a child’s life.
1. Which accreditation does your agency hold and for how long?
The Youth Opportunity Center, Inc. (YOC) has been accredited through the Council on Accreditation (COA) since 2005.
2. What was the original reason(s) for becoming accredited?
The YOC had been considering accreditation for a long time prior to initiating the process. We had always focused on quality programs/services and had strived to achieve a standard of excellence within our field; however, we believed that earning accreditation would help us improve even more. In addition, we believed that accreditation would help to differentiate the YOC from many of the other residential facilities in Indiana, thus giving us a distinct competitive advantage. In 2004, we chose to pursue certification as a Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility (PRTF), which required our organization to become accredited. This was the final determining factor which caused us to begin the accreditation process.
3. How has accreditation impacted the operations or functioning of your organization?
We have seen the most significant impact through our performance quality improvement (PQI) program. We have several PQI committees that meet regularly to review data and outcomes, identify trends or concerns, implement corrective action, monitor ongoing progress, and summarize the information for the administrative team. The PQI process has helped us to review and update policies, procedures and forms, identify training needs, identify and reduce safety risks, enhance data collection processes, improve documentation, enhance our programs and services, and increase communication throughout the organization. The PQI plan has become ingrained in our culture and we continue to expand and adapt it to meet our changing needs.
4. What advice would you give to an organization becoming accredited for the first time?
Read the standards, attend various accreditation trainings, and do a thorough assessment of your organization’s readiness for accreditation. Make sure that your agency has a good understanding of what will be required (i.e., documentation, policies and procedures, staffing, data collection and outcome measures, added costs, etc.) and that buy-in is assured from all organizational levels, from staff through the agency’s board of directors. Be very organized in your approach. Break down tasks into teams or committees. When multiple people share the responsibility, it makes the daunting task of earning accreditation more manageable. Accreditation is a team effort and everyone involved must be willing to do their part.
5. How did you motivate staff during the self-study and/or site visit phase?
When YOC first sought accreditation, we organized a huge “kick off” party where we provided an overview of the accreditation standards and the accreditation process for all of our staff. We assigned staff to teams to work on a specific set of standards, and we gave everyone accreditation t-shirts that they could wear on Fridays. We also designated specific work days where staff could clear everything off of their schedules and work with their COA teams. We often provided food and drinks for these work days.
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?
While community members do not always understand the nature of our work, they do understand that being an accredited facility means that a national body, which specializes in best practice standards, has given us its stamp of approval. They also understand that many agencies are not accredited; therefore, this is a distinguishing factor for the YOC. Our agency has worked hard to provide excellent quality programs and services for our clients, and accreditation serves as validation of these efforts. This seal of approval is meaningful to our clients, staff, referral sources, and the community at large.
7. Did your organization celebrate becoming accredited?
Yes! We celebrated with a huge party for our staff and board members. We had food, games, raffles and award presentations. We also bought ice cream for all of the kids!
8. About Youth Opportunity Center
We help catch children who have fallen…
Fallen on hard times,
Fallen between the cracks,
Fallen from grace.
We pick them up.
We stand up for them.
We teach them to stand on their own.
Then we watch them give back
to their families, their neighborhoods, their communities, their world.
Outpatient Counseling Services
Emergency Shelter Care
Respite Care Services
Diagnostic Testing & Evaluation (outpatient and residential)
Residential Treatment Services (staff secure)
Residential Treatment Services (locked secure)/ Psychiatric Residential
Treatment Facility (PRTF)
Juvenile Detention Services
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