As a result of working in the accreditation arena, I have found that, more often than not, many people don’t realize how often accreditation actually touches their lives. Accreditation is everywhere!
Briefly, accreditation is a formal process whereby organizations, institutions and professional programs are evaluated by an accrediting body against a host of best practice standards that rate the entity’s overall operations and impact on those it serves. Earning accreditation specifies that the organization (or specific program) is appropriately managing its resources and is continually providing the highest levels of service to each of its clients and stakeholders.
The accreditation process typically begins with a thorough self-study that involves the gathering of a variety of documentation regarding the operations and services of the organization. Next, a peer review will be conducted (often via an onsite visit/survey). With all of the needed information in-hand, the accrediting body will then determine whether accreditation has been earned and, if so, will accredit the agency accordingly. The entire process may take anywhere from 12 to 18 months to complete. (Depending on the type of accreditation an approved cycle may be valid for 3 to 10 years.)
While accreditation is generally a private (non-governmental), voluntary process, it is often a significant decision-making consideration by governmental funding agencies, foundations, potential clients and students, among others.
Here are just a few of the businesses and nonprofits that value the benefits of maintaining accreditation within their respective industries:
- Child and family and/or social services
- Early childhood education centers and day care providers
- Hospitals and other health care providers
- Fertility clinics and other specialty centers
- Nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other long-term care centers
- Medical laboratories and blood banks
- Credit counseling agencies
- Correctional and/or rehabilitation facilities
- Colleges and universities
- Post-secondary vocational educational institutions
- Continuing education programs (i.e. conferences and training courses as required for healthcare professionals, legal personnel, CPAs, etc.)
- Zoos and aquariums – Accreditation from antelopes to zebras!
For additional information (because who doesn’t want to read more about accreditation??), please feel free to contact us and/or check out these previous blog posts: