Lilliput Children’s Services is Northern California’s domestic adoption specialist, completing more foster adoptions than any other private California adoption agency. The organization is also the leading Kinship Care provider in California, allowing children to remain safely in the homes of grandparents, other family members or close relatives, or friends. Lilliput is committed to ensuring that every child is safe and nurtured within a family that has a life-long commitment to the child. Part of the agency’s commitment to providing the highest quality services lead Lilliput to becoming nationally accredited. Read on to see how being accredited has benefited the agency and those that they serve.
1. Which accreditation does your agency hold and for how long?
Lilliput was awarded expedited accreditation by the Council on Accreditation (COA) in March, 2014.
2. What was the original reason for becoming accredited?
Lilliput has a rich history of providing evidence-based services and consistently meeting the highest practice standards. The agency previously held state-wide accreditation through the California Alliance of Child and Family Services beginning in 2002. Earning national accreditation through COA provided a comprehensive framework to evaluate all areas of the agency, both administrative and service delivery functions, and an opportunity to demonstrate to funders and referring agencies the high standards to which Lilliput adheres. Our COA accreditation allows us to differentiate the organization from other agencies.
3. How has accreditation impacted the operations or functioning of your organization?
Since the accreditation process involves all stakeholders, we leveraged the expertise of staff, board, and community partners to make improvements based on a wide variety of perspectives. We have developed a more comprehensive set of agency performance measures addressing all areas of the agency which we share regularly with stakeholders. We also implemented multiple quality improvement committees involving staff from all levels, regions, and departments. This has helped us to both align and focus our efforts agency-wide while benefiting from the talent and insight of a variety of teams.
4. What advice would you give to an organization becoming accredited for the first time?
It is critical to allow adequate time to prepare for the accreditation process, as well as to dedicate the necessary time to fully implement any missing infrastructure, policies, or processes discovered during the process. It is very important to involve all stakeholders. Employees at every level, as well as board members, consumer groups, and other partners need to be an active part of the process for accreditation to be truly meaningful and correctly implemented. Accreditation preparation is not a task for a few people within the agency to do, although there must be full support from the highest levels of the agency, and commitment by leadership throughout the process. Having a steering committee to oversee progress through the preparation period provides structure and accountability.
5. How did you motivate staff during the self-study and/or site visit phase?
We began with a contest asking staff members to submit ideas for a theme to track our progress throughout the accreditation process. We had an enthusiastic response with a variety of suggestions that we put to an agency-wide vote to select our winning theme: “COA Quest.” We developed a storyline for our journey including obstacles to overcome that represented progress in fully implementing each standard. Staff involved in working on each standard selected an avatar; the avatars gained additional powers as they overcame obstacles (by successfully meeting more standards) during our 18 month quest. Our Quest culminated in gaining entry to the COA Castle when we received our accreditation.
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 and public relations efforts?
National accreditation is commonly recognized as the “gold seal of approval” so it distinguishes us from many other agencies, something our community partners and funders both value.
7. How did your organization celebrate becoming accredited?
Our entire staff celebrated with a festive atmosphere including music, confetti, and a fun dress up opportunity, as well as displaying our wall-sized Quest visual showing the journey of each avatar, all of whom were now inside the Castle. We included an “accreditation ceremony” in which each staff member was “accredited” by their colleagues, recognizing the participation of every individual. This was followed by a luncheon for all and more fun!
Lilliput Children’s Services is a nonprofit 501(c)3 agency serving the mission of ensuring that all children are part of a safe, nurturing, lifelong family. We believe children are given a far better chance of reaching their full potential when raised in and supported by a caring family. We hold a statewide adoption license in California and have offices in Auburn, Chico, Citrus Heights, El Dorado Hills, Fairfield, Martinez, Napa, Redding, Sacramento, Santa Rosa and Stockton.
Kinship Support Services Program (KSSP): A kinship family is formed when an extended family member, such as a grandparent, aunt/uncle or older sibling steps in to raise a child when the birth parent(s) are unable or unavailable to care for the child independently. Families served do not have to be formally connected to the foster care system.
Foster-Adoption Program: Lilliput’s child-focused foster family and adoption program maintains the goal of placing foster children into homes with people that are well trained and supported to facilitate a child’s return home to their birth family and/or offer a permanent, adoptive home to a child or sibling group. This minimizes the number of moves and trauma experienced by foster children.
Adoption Home Studies: Lilliput is licensed by the state of California to provide fee-based adoption home studies for families adopting domestically.
Post-Adoption Services: Lilliput believes the journey begins, not ends, at placement. Anyone touched by adoption can benefit from access to lifelong connections, support and resources. Lilliput provides ALL adoptive families with the opportunity to:
- Bond as a new family
- Network, share and learn from others
- Take advantage of training opportunities
- Access a variety of support services
Counseling Services: Lilliput understands that the special needs of foster, adoptive and kinship care children and families are typically not addressed by traditional counseling services. Our therapists are specially trained to provide permanency-focused, trauma-informed, best practice services to ensure healthy long-term attachments; behaviors are understood; past traumas begin to heal; family members stay connected; children are kept safe; children flourish and new families thrive.
Karen E. Alvord, LCSW, Chief Executive Officer
916-923-5444 and director@Lilliput.org