Accreditation In Action! The Village Family Service Center

Since 1891, The Village Family Service Center has helped area children and families improve their lives. The Village was founded as the North Dakota Children’s Home Society, a home for orphaned children, and for decades provided a sanctuary for those who often had no other place to go. But times have changed, and they discovered it wasn’t just kids who needed help.

Today, The Village reaches out to more than 80,000 people every year, and they are constantly adapting their services to meet the needs of modern life. These transformations are ongoing and span a multitude of areas. From individual and family counseling to mentoring and adoption to financial counseling and workplace issues, The Village is a place for all individuals and families regardless of their size, color or creed. The commitment to excellence and maintaining best practices standards is why The Village Family Service Center is a prime example of Accreditation in Action.

Which accreditation does your agency hold and for how long?

We have been accredited since 1982 by the Council on Accreditation (COA)

If you recall, what was the original reason(s) for becoming accredited?

We’ve existed since 1891 and have always had a high commitment to excellence.  Accreditation provided us concrete evidence of that commitment, from an unbiased perspective, to share with our stakeholders.  Accreditation—and the process of becoming COA accredited– also provided guidance to us, as a multi-service agency, in implementing best practice standards across a diverse array of services, professionals, and regulations.

How has accreditation positively impacted the operations or functioning of your organization? For example risk reduction, quality improvement, staff performance, services provided, etc. 

We have realized many benefits from accreditation including:

  • acknowledgment and/or deemed status by payers, regulators, donors, etc.;
  • efficiency gained by following common standards across service areas;
  • pride in working hard to attain and maintain this level of quality.

We developed our quality assurance program and processes to be all-encompassing of everything we do.  We strive to involve staff at every level of the organization, to be open and transparent about issues and actions needed, and we celebrate our successes and give positive recognition whenever possible.  This has generated buy-in from staff and allowed them to more fully understand the impact and value of our programs and processes.

What advice would you give to an organization becoming accredited for the first time? Or, in other words, what do you wish that you had known when you were starting on the road to accreditation? 

From our experience with COA, as you work your way through the accreditation standards, it is important to pay attention to the embedded links to other related standards, accreditation tools, checklists, tips, etc.  These are very helpful in understanding and responding to the standards.

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

To motivate staff, it can’t be stressed enough how important it is to have substantial buy-in to our quality assurance program, the value of accreditation, etc., in order to have natural motivation to do the work, recognize and act on areas in need of improvement, and celebrate what we are doing well.

What is one way that accreditation has added value to your organization’s name recognition in the community you serve or to your outreach/public relations efforts?

We pride ourselves on high-quality services, staff, and operations.  Accreditation provides validation of this.  We share our accredited status on our website and include it in all fundraising efforts and reporting to stakeholders, in order to promote our achievement throughout our communities.

Did your organization celebrate becoming (re)accredited? If so, how? 

How else? With Root Beer floats!

~Doug Vang, JD, CPA. President & CEO The Village

The mission of The Village Family Service Center is to improve the quality of life through services designed to strengthen individuals, families, and organizations.

Their programs of service include adoption, Big Brothers Big Sisters, mental/behavioral health counseling services, family engagement services, financial guidance, First Step Recovery, in-home family therapy, pregnancy counseling, and Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

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