The Final Deadline for Implementing FFPSA is One Year Away – Here’s What You Should Know

In 2018, the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) mandated that Qualified Residential Treatment Programs (QRTPs), in part, must be licensed by their state and achieve national accreditation to receive Title IV-E funds following the initial two weeks after a child enters their care.[1]  The time originally allocated to submit program plans was two years with the potential for taking a two year delay.

Although agencies and states have evolved in their understanding and communication of many aspects of the federal bill, presently only twelve states, plus the District of Columbia and two tribes have submitted Title IV-E Prevention Program plans, which indicates when the state intends to implement FFPSA. Additionally, we now find ourselves just one year out from the final implementation deadline of October 1, 2021.

From an agency accreditation perspective – this means that while there is still time to become accredited, it will need to be done with a consistent effort, focus on efficiency, and a continuous eye on timing. 

In general, it takes 12 to 18 months to prepare for national accreditation; depending on the original state of readiness and the accrediting body selected. If you have not yet discussed the subject within your organization, now is the time.  Below, we have compiled some facts and important steps you can and should be taking now if you wish to become a QRTP.

FACT:  TIMING IS EVERYTHING: This is a crucial piece to understand and communicate within the organization.  When an agency’s board and staff understand the time constraints that you are working within – the probability of quicker responses, approvals and/or comments will increase.

Important Steps

Select an Accrediting Body –The accrediting bodies approved under FFPSA are: CARF International (, Council on Accreditation (COA) ( , The Joint Commission (, or other accrediting bodies approved by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).[2]   We have a helpful chart that compares the three accrediting bodies.  Contact us for that and/or for input on which accrediting body would be best suited for your organizations’ needs.

Know Your Baseline – Benchmarking your organizational starting point against the expectations of accreditation will allow you to focus more time on the less developed aspects of your plan.   It will also help anyone who is working with you to start with this information and move you forward from there, rather than taking the time to fact find on your behalf.  One way to establish your readiness for accreditation is to take our Free Readiness Assessment.  

FACT: BUDGETING NOW WILL SAVE TIME LATER:  Plan now to secure budgetary allocation with the board’s approval for the entire amount ahead of time.  As the process can take a year or more to complete; accreditation could theoretically be spread over two budget cycles and you may be tempted to push off getting part of the total spending approved until the second budget cycle. However, this simple task can literally add weeks to the project – when you need to stop for approvals and get payments routed for signatures before proceeding to next steps.

Important Steps:

Include Benefits in the Proposal:   You are already aware of the importance of understanding all accreditation costs up front, but clearly identifying and including the benefits to the expenditure in your proposal when routing to key decision makers is also crucial.  To ensure you have a clear outline of benefits of accreditation, you can review our articles, blog posts and videos that can help clarify the points that make the most sense for your organization. Go here and type in “benefits” in the search area to pull up relevant info.

FACT: BOARD AND STAFF BUY-IN IS KEY:  Preparing staff and board members for the accreditation process is one of the most overlooked but (in our experience) one of THE most valuable investments you can make prior to starting the process.  Organizations often think that one person will lead the charge on finding a team and holding the team accountable to the tasks at hand.  But this is often done at the expense of day-to-day responsibilities.  By clarifying not only what the accreditation process entails but why it is happening – more people will have a sense of the timeliness involved and be motivated to help.

Important Steps:

Plan for Getting Buy-in as an Event.  Appointing one person, or team of individuals (perhaps an accreditation communications committee) to be the accreditation point of contact for agency staff and other stakeholders can assist in making the accreditation process an enjoyable one for all. Allowing a bit of latitude can be beneficial and a bit of fun, for example, kick-off events, holding an accreditation fair to exhibit new accreditation policies and procedures to one another, trivia contests, accreditation field days, team picnics, etc. There are people who enjoy accreditation, so find them and utilize them!

Consider a consultant.   Achieving accreditation is an involved process that will require your employees to spend less time on their day-to-day responsibilities. To ensure efficient time management, consultants go beyond providing training functions and serve as sounding boards to answer questions from staff so no one is spinning their wheels or getting lost down a rabbit hole trying to figure out what the accreditation standards mean.  Contact us to start a conversation on how we can help you get this done on time and budget.

With the FFPSA deadline looming, impacted organizations should begin the accreditation process now to get ahead of the influx of other providers seeking to become accredited and have enough time to thoroughly complete the necessary work. Once the process begins, effective project management and support from leadership will help ensure that accreditation activities stay on track despite other priorities that may arise.

Accreditation Guru assists organizations in creating a customized accreditation timeline based on its strategic planning and provides support along the way to successfully meet each milestone.  A accreditation calendar provides a visual tool to keep leadership and staff focused for an efficient process.

[1] Public Law 115-123,section 50741 (page 190); available at:

[2] Two additional accrediting bodies have been approved for QRTPs since the passing of the law: Educational Assessment Guidelines Leading toward Excellence (EAGLE) ( – a faith-based accrediting body – and Teaching-Family Association (

For more information or questions about the contents of this article, please write or call Jennifer Flowers @ / 212.209.0240.   This post contains original content and was written for Accreditation Guru, Inc. Use of this copy is permitted with credit and reference within the same body of copy to Accreditation Guru, Inc.

Wisdom and Value in Strategic Planning

By Dave Branding, PhD

One of my absolute favorite days of the work year calendar is strategic planning. I look forward to this special opportunity when key leaders come together and focus. We scan the environment, assess our positions, incorporate input, determine goals and set priorities for how we intend to perform the important work together in alignment.

Of course, strategic planning is less a day and more an ongoing, evolving process that often includes an identifiable day when teams actively plan together. From my position as a CEO, the value is having key leaders and governing bodies hear the same information and build consensus regarding the way forward.

Imagine YOUR key stakeholders forecasting, projecting and designing elements of a future together. It’s a joy to have teams listen intently, brainstorm and contribute insights in a safe, positive setting. The goal is to find a collective, coherent way forward despite operating in risk-bearing, fiscally challenging and often ambiguous environments. How empowering!

The strategic plan, when thoughtfully developed, might be the single greatest gift that boards and leadership teams can give each other and ultimately to the community served.

Providing a concise framework for strategic planning, accreditation standards emphasize what should be considered in the ongoing planning process, how the plan itself is to be developed, what it must include and how it is maintained and shared with others.

In my experience as a CARF surveyor, one frequently missed standard is ensuring that the plan reflects financial positioning at the time it’s drafted and at projected points in the future.

Organizations achieve substantial conformance by paying attention to detail in documentation and using the actual standards as an outline for the content generated by the process, which informs the resulting written plan.

The Planning Process

In our organization, planning practices have evolved over many years and are constantly being refined.  Rough outlines guiding the planning process, collected formally and informally, are written on large paper pages displayed around the room for reference by everyone.

For our first step, the leadership team and governing board meet together and we facilitate the meeting ourselves. Other organizations find it helpful to use an external facilitator.

We update everyone on the status of the existing plan, acknowledging those items that are completed , note others that are still in process and jettison the ones that will not be pursued.  We use a large electronic screen to update a simple SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis and spend most of the time brainstorming priority areas for our efforts, which are recorded on large sheets of paper.

Further discussion, reorganization and prioritization helps us solidify the plan’s rough content. In the following days, we draft a brief, concise document that is shared with the leadership team and governance board for input and revisions.

Successful Implementation

Last year, we then shared our draft goals and objectives with all 60 staff members throughout our organization and used a nominal voting process to solicit everyone’s input and document priorities.

We listed strategic opportunities on large post-it sheets around the room and everyone voted by placing stickers next to the issues they thought to be most important.  This input also factored strongly into the development of our final written plan.

Ultimately, the governing board approves the strategic plan’s final draft, which is implemented with at least twice-annual updates that are submitted to the board. This year, we are trying a Gantt chart format to more clearly specify when each element of the plan initiates and concludes.

We also seek input and feedback to strengthen our planning process for the coming year by sharing elements of the plan at key community stakeholders meetings, distributing reports to all staff members and holding regular meetings with the people we serve – tailoring content to each audience, as appropriate. Other organizations use their website to share strategic directions with a broader audience.

There is strong wisdom and incredible value in the alignment of people, ideas, resources and purposeful work that’s specified in a well-developed strategic plan, which helps us implement continuous, organization-wide quality improvement and sustainability more than any other initiative or directive.

Accreditation Guru can help you and your colleagues achieve a strategic planning process that meets your needs while conforming to accreditation standards that help your organization Prepare for Greatness

Dave is CEO at JAMHI Health & Wellness in Juneau, Alaska, a CARF surveyor and a consultant with Accreditation Guru.

For assistance with your strategic planning, please contact us at 212.209.0240 or email


What does it mean to “live” accreditation?

Achieving national accreditation is more than passing a test. Navigating the road to accreditation requires a service provider to commit to quality improvement, focus on the unique needs of each person the provider serves and monitor the results of services. It announces to the world that your organization strives to be the best it can be. That’s hard work, but the process sets you on the course for long-term greatness.

Organizations are best served to approach accreditation as investment in their future. It helps to raise the bar internally and not only creates a more stable entity, but one that can more effectively manage growth in the future. Once achieved, if a human service provider truly “lives” accreditation (embraces and applies enhanced operational and program practices) it will strengthen their ability to improve the lives of the people they serve.

To read more on the advantages of accreditation, click here.

For questions and assistance with your accreditation and/or post accreditation, please contact us at 212.209.0240 or email Jennifer Flowers.

Is it important to educate your board of directors? YES!

Education forms the foundation from which most everything else is created, making it one of the wisest investments a nonprofit can expend its precious resources on. Nowhere is this truer than taking the time to educate your board of directors so that they are best prepared to serve your organization and help with mission fulfillment.

If you have questions about how Accreditation Guru can help you and your board of directors, please contact us at 212.209.0240 or

Why Hire a Consultant?

Individuals reach out to relatives, friends and other trusted advisors for relationship, financial or career help all the time. So why are many businesses reluctant to hire a consultant?

Some reasons for this resistance include institutional inertia, fear of seeming weak or ineffective and a lack of awareness that a different perspective can provide big dividends.

Companies that consider – or are required – to seek accreditation may think that the process is just a rubber stamp and underestimate the task ahead.

Though many boards and executives only contemplate hiring a consultant when things go south, there are many good reasons to get advice from an experienced consultant when the situation warrants.

Growing Pains

Here’s a familiar scenario in the non-profit world: the board is raising money, staff is hired and the vision is being executed. However, growing demand for services outstrips the capacity of the organization to scale up.

In other cases, the mission expands into new, related opportunities that pull non-profits into unforeseen directions.

These seem like good problems to have, but when you’re faced with an unexpected crisis or an overload of decisions to be made, having a consultant who can see through the fog and help vet options is invaluable.

Few non-profits possess the capacity to undertake their own competitive and/or market research to support decision-making, help your team develop an action plan and set goals and priorities.

Conflict Resolution

It happens all the time: two powerful individuals or factions within an organization clash over direction or policy. Is providing human services to the vulnerable enough or should the non-profit lobby for new laws to deal with the underlying issues causing the problems?

There is a reason why arbitrators, mediators and the court system exist: to serve as neutral, unbiased third-party judges to either make a decision or help develop an agreement for moving forward.

When different opinions hinder the ability of board and staff leaders to settle on priorities, paid consultants can help organizations move beyond the debate, try to develop a consensus and get back on track to fulfill the organization’s original mission. And they cost a lot less than lawyers.

Navigating the Unknown

Leadership transitions or succession issues can tear non-profits apart. This is one reason why sports teams have coaches: when the top players move on or retire, the deck has to be reshuffled. Professional facilitators can help develop a strategic plan and prepare your board and staff leadership for seamless change and determine the best path to ensure future stability.

Through the Viewfinder

When competing priorities or sudden crises emerge, consultants can help focus on the most important ways to deal with adversity. They can be tasked with developing a ranked, detailed action plan throughout the collaboration so that there’s buy-in from every level of your organization.

For help getting everyone to share goals, implement effective tactics, develop timelines and achieve measurable outcomes, consultants are in a unique position to rally the forces and foster lasting growth and sustainability.

Time Savings

When it comes to navigating the accreditation process, hiring the right consultant can save time (and money).

At Accreditation Guru, our team experts have gained valuable and actionable experience in the field. They know exactly what the accrediting bodies are looking for and how best to compile organization data and information.

But achieving accreditation is an involved process that will require your employees to spend less time on their day-to-day responsibilities. To ensure efficient time management, our consultants go beyond providing training functions and serve as sounding boards to answer questions from staff so no one is spinning their wheels or getting lost in a rabbit hole trying to figure out what the accreditation standards mean.

Rather than serve as a sign of weakness, hiring consultants marks a bold, brave move that can provide lasting benefits far beyond the immediate cost. And achieving accreditation will help increase credibility and stability. Don’t leave your destiny to chance!

To schedule a call with Jennifer Flowers for your accreditation needs, contact us at or 212.209.0240.

Using a consultant to help with the accreditation process


When beginning on the road to national accreditation, many organizations struggle with the extra workload involved and a general unfamiliarity with the accreditation process. As a result, they may decide to work with an accreditation consultant to help with the heavy lifting involved. Our video outlines what to look for when considering hiring a consultant, including success rates, reputation and the amount of customization available for your organization.

If you have questions about how Accreditation Guru can help your agency proactively prepare for accreditation, please contact us at 212.209.0240 or

Ideas to motivate staff beyond money.


In this video we discuss the importance of finding out what personally motivates your employees as part of the mix of how you might encourage them beyond solely monetary benefits.