Accreditation is a review process to determine if human service, healthcare or educational programs demonstrate their ability to meet defined standards of quality. Once achieved, accreditation is not permanent—it is renewed periodically to ensure that quality is maintained.
Requirements differ per accrediting body, but the intent remains the same: to validate an organization’s commitment to meeting accreditation standards that result in a higher level of performance. Accreditation standards have been researched, vetted and field-tested and are updated regularly, as necessary.
Earning accreditation specifies that the organization (or specific program) is appropriately managing its resources and is continually providing the highest levels of service to its clients and stakeholders. Being accredited provides credibility and helps validate and improve the safety and quality of care an organization provides.
Organizations need to demonstrate conformance with the accrediting body’s requirements by implementing the accreditation standards and undergoing an onsite survey or, more recently due to the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual review.
For human service and healthcare organizations, the broad purposes of accreditation are to establish quality measurement criteria and to raise the level of services and professionalism within a given profession or industry (QUALITY) and to ensure services are delivered in a safe manner and in a safe environment (SAFETY).
Becoming accredited offers organizations professional recognition for meeting the highest standards in quality service delivery while providing clients with an appropriate tool for effectively evaluating service providers. Organizations that achieve accreditation have reached beyond the minimum licensing standards and made a long-term commitment to strong management, program consistency, outcome measurements and continuous improvement throughout their agencies.
Accreditation standards address such areas as:
Leadership and governance
Facilities security and safety
Workforce development – recruiting, hiring practices, background checks, performance appraisals, training and supervision
Performance measurement and improvement
Client rights and confidentiality
Program administration and service delivery
With all of the needed information in-hand during a survey, the accrediting body will determine whether accreditation has been earned and, if so, will accredit the organization accordingly.
The entire process may take anywhere from 12 to 18 months to complete. For behavioral health and social service organizations, accreditation is valid for 3 or 4 years and there is another full survey at the end of each accreditation cycle.
While accreditation is generally a private (non-governmental), voluntary process, it is often a significant decision-making consideration by potential clients, individual donors, foundations, governmental funding agencies, and billing and private insurance companies.
Here are just a few of the businesses and nonprofits that value the benefits of maintaining accreditation within their respective industries:
Mental healthcare and substance use treatment facilities
Service providers for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities
Foster care and adoption agencies
Group homes/residential treatment for children and youth
Early childhood education centers and day care providers
Nursing homes and assisted living facilities
Medical laboratories and blood banks
Credit counseling agencies
Colleges and universities – must be accredited by one of the federally-recognized accreditors for students to be eligible for U.S. federal student aid
Continuing education providers
Aquariums and zoos – Accreditation from angelfish to zebras!
More often than not, many people don’t realize how often accreditation actually touches their lives. Accreditation is everywhere!
If you are ready to explore how accreditation could be a benefit to your organization or if you have questions about the process, please contact us.
For more information or questions about the contents of this article, please write or call Jennifer Flowers @ Jennifer@AccreditationGuru.com / 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.
Achieving accreditation offers human service organizations professional recognition for meeting quality standards in service delivery. It also provides clients and other key stakeholders with an appropriate tool for effectively evaluating service providers. Organizations that earn accreditation have reached beyond the minimum licensing standards and made a long-term commitment to strong governance, program consistency, outcome measurements and continuous improvement throughout their agencies.
Accreditation requires an organization to undergo an objective review by an independent accrediting body. Becoming accredited signifies that an organization is effectively managing its resources and enhancing the quality of life of persons served.
The Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) model has seen rapid uptake in the last decade because it improves the quality of life for individuals with behavioral health needs. It does this by improving community-based access to behavioral healthcare, regardless of an individual’s ability to pay, which is important. Studies have shown that, in the U.S., one in five adults have a mental illness, but fewer than half received treatment in the past year. In addition, individuals with behavioral health needs often have poor physical health outcomes due to a lack of physical health care access, so the CCBHC model integrates and coordinates physical health services for this population. In order to meet this mission, CCBHCs receive enhanced Medicaid funding that allows them to provide more services as well as services that are not always reimbursed, like community outreach and partnerships.
In 2002, eight community mental health clinics formed the first CCBHC pilot. The number of CCBHCs has now grown to over 400 operating in 40 states. More states are considering adopting this model now that the program has gone nationwide. “Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics help connect Americans to easy-to-access, comprehensive mental health and substance use disorder treatment and supports in their own communities,” said Miriam E. Delphin-Rittmon, Ph.D., the U.S. Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use and the leader of SMAHSA.
But becoming a CCBHC can be complex. Agencies may need to expand services and hours, hire staff, and determine how and where to integrate physical health care into their operations so they have the capabilities they need to meet the qualifications. CCBHCs are nonprofit organizations or units of a local government behavioral health authority, including tribal government. They must directly provide (or contract with partner organizations to provide) nine types of services, with an emphasis on the provision of 24-hour crisis care and substance use disorder treatment, use of evidence-based practices, care coordination with local primary care and hospital partners, and integration with physical health care.
Some of the key expectations for certified community behavioral health clinics are closely aligned with the accreditation requirements of the national accrediting bodies. These include:
Advancing integration of behavioral and physical health care
Coordination of care, treatment and services through care coordination/case management
Delivering services based on individualized plan of care/treatment by well-trained, competent staff who match culturally/linguistically to the population(s) served
Providing patient-centered, trauma-informed, recovery-oriented best practices in their care, treatment and services
Enhancing quality to improve outcomes for individuals served
Collecting, reporting, and tracking data
Continuous quality improvement.
Because national accreditation requirements contain standards of care for addressing these same CCBHC criteria, achieving and maintaining accreditation with Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC) CARF International (CARF), Council on Accreditation (COA), or the The Joint Commission can provide a solid foundation for a behavioral health care clinic’s journey as a CCBHC. Through compliance with accreditation requirements, organizations will have a roadmap to follow for addressing many key CCBHC components. These areas are then assessed by surveyors/reviewers during on-site or virtual site visits, providing validation of good practices and potential feedback that can generate further enhancements.
Recognizing this solid foundation, SAMHSA encourages accreditation for a CCBHC by an appropriate, nationally recognized organization such as AAHC, CARF, COA, or The Joint Commission. SAMHSA’s intent for a CCBHC is to improve access to and quality of mental health and addiction care, treatment and services for all persons in need. This intent is reflected in the mission of each of the national accrediting bodies: AAAHC, CARF, COA, and The Joint Commission.
Accreditation Guru has experts who can provide consulting to assist organizations throughout the CCBHC accreditation/reaccreditation process. Recently, AG was proud to partner with BestSelf Behavioral Health, a CCBHC, in their achievement of accreditation through COA. BestSelf provides outpatient, integrated behavioral and physical health care using evidence-based practices. Its programs and services include education and vocational supports, mobile mental health and substance use disorder services, homeless outreach and housing, community and school-based programs, and coordination with law enforcement and medical, mental health and child protection professionals. “COA accreditation has allowed BestSelf to focus on quality and maintain best practices as well as operate our Opioid Treatment Program,” says Rebecca S. Steffen LCSW-R, Vice President of Quality Improvement & Accreditation.
We would love to discuss your clinic’s accreditation needs, click here to contact us.
For more information or questions about the contents of this article, please write or call Jennifer Flowers @ Jennifer@AccreditationGuru.com / 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.
In this video, we explain some of the challenges organizations typically face trying to obtain national accreditation. When agencies understand some of these fundamental issues, it can equip them to both anticipate, and mitigate, these challenges-making the road to accreditation much smoother.
Accredited by The Joint Commission since 1986, the Tamarack Center provides top-tier residential psychiatric treatment to adolescents in Spokane, Washington. In addition to a web page devoted to “Accreditation and Licensing” on their site, they also display the Gold Seal of Approval logo from The Joint Commission. Recently, Tim Davis, CEO at Tamarack Center expanded on the importance of accreditation and its significance to his organization.
Tamarack achieved accreditation because their contract with the state required it. Though the process and its aftermath helped turn Executive Director Tim Davis into a strong advocate for the benefits of being accredited.
In this interview with Accreditation Guru, Tim contends that accreditation limits liability, attracts top talent and convinces parents to trust their children’s care to Tamarack. You may even be able to negotiate a discount with your insurance carrier.
What are some of the prime benefits of accreditation?
With the world being so litigious, you want to limit liability. You don’t want to be out there without some form of accreditation, which is a statement about how you do things. Plus, you’re regularly reviewed by outside parties on a continuous improvement plan.
Over the last 35 years I’ve seen a lot of people who never thought about these things. Now realizing it’s not only smart to do, but it also offers huge protection in any disagreement or litigation.
The legal protection is so important, especially in [the behavioral health] world. Something bad can happen at any time, be it a successful suicide, a sexual assault, running away, being harmed or harming someone.
Typically, the basis of any lawsuit is that the institution had no idea what they were doing. From the parental perspective, it’s “I left my child in their care and they have no idea how to handle my kid.”
When it gets to that point, attorneys say that it’s helpful to show that you’re adhering to accreditation standards over a period of time. That you’ve thoroughly covered your processes and you’re dedicated to running the place with that in mind. You can even show surveys where they found deficiencies and you took steps to correct that issue as an ongoing daily process.
It ensures that you’re paying attention to the environment of care and ethical standards. Then, you have a much stronger defense. Otherwise, it’s he-said-she-said, back and forth. I value this kind of protection.
To what do you attribute a rise in knowledge about accreditation?
There’s a little more awareness each year. People go on the web and begin to understand. Now, insurance companies are spreading the word and getting more involved.
Really? That’s interesting. Do insurance companies offer discounts to organizations that are accredited?
[Laughs.] I’ve never heard of that, but they should.
[Accreditation Guru note: Some liability insurance companies will take into account accreditation when determining the cost of liability insurance for a residential program because they view accreditation as an acceptable risk reduction strategy. The cost saving may be the result of a direct discount on premiums or due to having accreditation status gives the program a better rating that results in a reduced rate.]
You mentioned that you operate in a distinct environment.
Over the years, there have been a lot of conversations about residential care for kids. There are a lot of unlicensed, rogue programs that certainly aren’t accredited who think they know how to heal problem kids.
A lot of boot camp style centers got a lot of publicity on Dr. Phil and NBC News, but the residential treatment centers that are accredited can’t do things that people consider to be rogue. They made a commitment to do just the opposite, with a set of agreed upon standards.
We talk about assessment and such a key part of anything you do is to try and understand what the conditions are and what your organization can do for them. I tell parents that we’re going to do a mountain of assessments and you can have access to all of this and decide on the course of treatment.
The rogue operators say “just let Johnny stay with us two months and you’ll get a different kid back.” Are they going to do legitimate service to families? One way to do that is to adhere to an agreed upon set of standards.
Why don’t more residential treatment centers become accredited?
It’s not an easy thing to do and it represents an expense. But our organization considers it money well spent.
When I talk with non-accredited places, I realize how fortunate I am. I’ve got a high bed rate, top-flight staff and a high level of safety. Other places may have a lower bed rate and take kids because they need to fill the beds, but they may not be equipped to deal with suicidal or psychotic kids and if they have three people with a high school equivalence working the floor and a psychiatrist who comes in two hours a month, that’s a nightmare.
Sometimes, nonprofits can be naive about the mission, thinking that all you need to take care of disturbed kids is “if you hug ‘em and feed ‘em, they’ll get better,” but that’s where accreditation comes in. It adds a level of seriousness and professionalism that you can’t get anywhere else.
My biggest battle with the state is that our accreditation defines the scope of care – we have 16 beds and we’ve decided that there are certain types of kids we can’t serve and the state goes crazy when we declare that a placement might be out of our scope of care, which is the foundation of our contract.
Nonprofits that don’t define their scope of care get into a tremendous mess when they take people for whom they can’t provide appropriate services. I talk with people who are licensed, including nurses and doctors and tell them that they never want to work in a place that is not accredited because it provides a bit of a safety net for your license if something goes haywire. And it will.
In behavioral health they can come after you, but in most cases you will be protected because the heart of the argument is “what kind of place is this?” Is it a ragtag outfit or a professional medical environment? All you need to know is that it’s accredited.
There’s always going to be resistance to accreditation in the beginning due to the amount of work. And yeah, it’s more work, but it’s not insurmountable. With The Joint Commission, there are many ways you can meet a standard, they’re not dictatorial. Accreditation gives you and your staff accountability in this highly unpredictable, litigious field of work.
Does accreditation help with your marketing? Do parents know about it?
We’re small and we’re almost always full, so we don’t do much marketing. But we do speak with parents all the time who ask “why should I leave my child here? What can we expect?” And accreditation is a big part of that conversation.
I actually show them The Joint Commission manual and tell them “here are the things for which we are held accountable” and I let them spend as much time as they want asking me about our internal processes, making sure that something in the manual is happening.
It’s a big part of helping parents feel comfortable putting their child here. They know that there is some system in place that we have been doing for years and our standards of care are at the same level as the best providers across the country. It’s comforting for them.
Spokane is a small place, so if something bad happens, people talk about it and if it turns out that a place has no accreditation, I use it as an opportunity. I tell people that I have this written road map about how to care for people ethically and efficiently. Then, outside people come in and put you under the microscope and say “are these guys doing this or not?”
We’re licensed in Washington state five ways and the license reviews and audits are really specific. They’ll look at the fridge or run a white glove over something, but they’re not getting the full picture of care. Accreditation does.
So when there’s an incident in town, you spring into crisis coordination mode?
People inevitably ask “how could that happen?” The worst answer you can give is that the system broke down. If you can answer that a person made a mistake or willfully performed a bad act, people are more understanding because as humans, those things can happen. The public is less understanding of people who run something where the system allows a mess.
You had no background in accreditation when you took over at Tamarack, right?
I was a clinical guy and knew little about the management side of nonprofits, but The Joint Commission laid out what I had to do if I’m managing the thing properly.
Like everything, there was a learning curve, but the key – when I look back – is to understand the philosophy of each standard. What’s really important is that once you get this, then the whole accreditation process makes ten times more sense.
You ask yourself, “is it really important to do that?” If the answer is no, then ask, “why not, if that’s the standard?” You’d be amazed how many times we ask “is it important to do that?” and at first people might say “that’s stupid, we don’t need that.” And then, inevitably, you look around the table and people are shaking their heads saying “yeah, this makes sense.”
For new young management like me, the standards themselves served as a mentor or guiding force.
To learn more on how achieving accreditation can help elevate your organization, call us at 212.209.0240 or email Rocio@AccreditationGuru.com for assistance in setting up a commitment-free phone call with our CEO, Jennifer Flowers.
Since late February 2020, child welfare agencies and behavioral health care organizations have been forced to focus on two critical functions – infection control and emergency management. Depending on the services provided and location of the organization, providers have been forced to change their operations in ways that include having all employees work remotely, provide telehealth services or even “closing the gates” and delivering residential services without people going on or off the property.
In these trying times, the framework provided by implementing national accreditation standards certainly helps service providers better manage the necessary pivot in operations and service delivery in this time of crisis.
Accreditation Standards – Detailed Plans and Strategic Safety Net
Accreditation standards that address risk prevention and management, infection prevention and control, performance and quality improvement, technology and information management and staff training are all being put to the test these days.
Effective risk management controls include, but are not limited to, emergency response preparedness. An accredited agency is required to have a written disaster plan for evacuation and relocation of staff and clients, parent-child reunification following a disaster, as well as specific plans to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities and other special needs during emergencies. The organization must also address coordination with governmental authorities and emergency responders. Further, staff needs to be trained on how to respond to medical threats and emergencies and how to handle potential safety risks they may encounter on the job.
Accreditation (maintenance and preparation) guides an organization through a thoughtful, structured and planned process to create an infrastructure for risk management and performance improvement that can be seamlessly implemented during times of crisis like this one.
The accreditation process also helps organizations review and strengthen their policies and practices through compliance with national standards of care. This includes creating processes for gathering and using data for continuous improvement of the quality of the services provided. It is not enough to collect and analyze data related to outputs such as the number of clinical sessions provided or the total number of clients served, but they also must identify, observe and measure the effects of a program’s services on clients.
“Plan and procedures for disaster readiness are a lived concept for CARF-accredited organizations. The readiness mindset of our programs has helped organizations and their staff to transition services to better support children and families during this pandemic.” – Leslie Ellis-Lang, MMFT, Managing Director, CARF Child and Youth Services *
Technology-Based Service Delivery – AKA Telehealth
Due to the pandemic and resulting COVID-19 funding legislation that now expands coverage for telehealth services for Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries, a vast number of service providers were given the opportunity to make a seemingly overnight shift to employees working remotely and providing telehealth services.
The existing accreditation standards in place that address the management of technology-based service delivery allow companies to reference their strategic plan and immediately embrace the full-time use of this technology.
Any accredited organization that engages or plans to engage service recipients in technology-based service delivery needs to develop policies and procedures to guide telehealth service delivery to address privacy and security measures. They must also assess the appropriateness of technology-based service delivery for each individual and monitor effectiveness of using this model.
Accreditation standards further address competency-based training for personnel on the use of equipment and software, privacy and confidentiality issues, and recognizing and responding to emergency or crisis situations from a remote location.
While many organizations may not have developed a detailed pandemic response plan, wouldn’t it have been helpful to have already addressed and planned for the use of telehealth services and having employees work remotely under the framework of accreditation standards?
“Accreditation is not just a box to tick and this is even more apparent during times of crisis,” says Jody Levison-Johnson, President and CEO, Council on Accreditation (COA). “COA has standards that address key preparedness and response issues. These fall under the broad standards categories of human resources management, safety and security, and emergency preparedness – all of which are critical during times of crisis.” *
“(The Joint Commission) recognizes the challenges behavioral healthcare organizations are facing during this difficult time and we want to hear from all behavioral health care providers what else we can do to help.” – Julia Finken, Executive Director, Behavioral Health Care Accreditation *
This Too Shall Pass
“This too shall pass” is comforting and indeed it will (or be better controlled). But, as the pandemic stretches on and businesses start to develop a “new normal” for addressing the various health and economic needs of the public at large, a pre-laid foundation of strategic plans and detailed response initiatives can provide a more effective pivot for a company.
Is your organization one of them? By scheduling time to focus on accreditation, you can address key initiatives now and stay ahead of the game in the future. Don’t delay your preparation for achieving accreditation. Develop a work schedule that includes accreditation preparation whether you are applying for the first time or maintaining your status.
Keep Your Momentum Going!
*For additional information from the accrediting bodies:
The interest in national accreditation is on the rise. More and more behavioral health and human services organizations making an investment in their future by becoming nationally accredited. Why? Here are five reasons service providers should consider accreditation this year.
Accreditation provides an external validation of the quality of your programs and services. This can increase credibility and boost your reputation to help expand your referral base, attract individuals looking for services, and recruit and retain quality staff.
As health insurance coverage for mental health and addiction treatment rises, accreditation is increasingly being used as an indicator of quality by private payers, Medicaid and managed care programs such as TRICARE. Becoming accredited can help you diversify your funding streams, qualify for more contracts and receive payment approvals.
Going through the accreditation process helps standardize policies and procedures across programs/services and throughout multiple locations. This helps build staffing efficiencies and expands best practices across your organization. The result is a consistent framework that can be easily replicated to facilitate future growth.
Accreditation is also an exercise in reducing your risk profile. In addition to helping your organization reduce and/or better manage difficult situations and emergencies (helping your legal team sleep better at night!), it may also give you a chance to renegotiate your liability insurance, sometimes significantly.
The accreditation process helps organizations review and strengthen their policies and practices through compliance with national standards of care. This includes creating processes for gathering and using data for continuous improvement of the quality of the services you provide.
For questions and assistance with your accreditation and/or post accreditation, please contact us at 212.209.0240 or email Rocio@AccreditationGuru.com.
When a consumer has made the life changing decision to seek treatment for a mental health or substance usage issue or a parent/spouse/friend is struggling with where their loved one will receive safe and quality care, treatment or services, national accreditation of an organization can be re-assuring. Increasing the confidence of the consumer or significant other is a significant benefit of accreditation. Accreditation signals to the consumer/significant other that the organization’s physical environment has been surveyed for safety and its service delivery, surveyed for quality. After this rigorous survey, the organization has been awarded accreditation based on its compliance with standards for safety and quality of care, treatment or services. For this reason, an accredited organization may post its accreditation status on its website and proudly display its accreditation award certificate in its main entrance(s). A brief overview of the meaning of accreditation and the accreditation process is often provided to consumers/significant others verbally or in an admissions brochure. Each accrediting body’s logo includes a symbol of approval which an accredited organization may add on its social media and marketing materials. Accrediting bodies post on their websites a list of accredited organizations so that key stakeholders including consumers/significant others can locate safe and quality care, treatment or services.
Accreditation tells the consumer/significant other that your organization has gone beyond basic state licensing requirements to achieve a higher level of safety and quality of care, treatment or services based on industry standards.
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 Rocio@AccreditationGuru.com
The program aims to get “dually-involved” youth – foster care children who are also caught up in the criminal justice systems – on the right track. In Illinois, many detained or imprisoned foster care youth remained incarcerated long after their sentences expired because the state lacked the appropriate resources to serve them.
Attesting to the program’s success, 300 participants have been released from detention or prison an average of 42 days beyond their sentences, compared with 116 days for a comparable population. Nine out of ten youth in Regenerations avoid re-incarceration and the program places 100% of its population outside of residential care – versus 37% for the comparison group. And, the program costs $118 per day per youth served as opposed to $300 to $500 a day for residential care.
Accreditation Guru spoke with Mike Bertrand, president and CEO of Lutheran Child and Family Services and a co-founder of the Regenerations program.
Accreditation Guru: How did this program get started?
Mike Bertrand: There was a large hole and an under-served population that was being dealt with in an inappropriate way. At the time in Illinois, we had an extensive amount of youth either in juvenile or adult prison being kept past their release date because there was no program or place for them to go.
AG: So you came up with specific strategies.
MB: We knew that we had expertise in the child welfare world, but we didn’t have expertise in the criminal justice or juvenile delinquency realm. So we sought partners, including Youth Advocate Programs, with more experience in the criminal justice arena around the country. From there, we did a search with the assistance of Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago to find programs that we could learn from and we couldn’t locate anything. So Chapin Hall and LCFS – in consultation with Youth Advocate Programs, as well as the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services – put our heads together and used what we felt were state-of-the-art interventions in terms of how we could achieve successful outcomes for youth.
AG: If you were to boil down the keys to success, what would they be?
MB: The culture we built in the program comes down to Never Give Up. Most of these kids are used to having promises made and then they screw up and people walk away. You can dislike the behavior but not the individual doing the behavior. It’s not like we excuse it when we have a youth re-offend or do something inappropriate, but that doesn’t devalue the person.
AG: Can this program be replicated?
MB: To be successful, you have to have a significant risk tolerance with this population because you have significant behavior that needs to be dealt with. You also need to have a strong belief in kinship care. Our success in deflecting youth from residential placement has largely relied on relatives. The most important things are having a real heart for the population and the problems that come with them, as well as having a belief in kinship care and the willingness to adhere to the code of No Rejects, No Ejects.
AG: You also license foster families.
MB: Not all youths are placed with relatives. About half are placed with licensed foster parents that we recruited and trained and take through the state’s licensing process. We make sure they have the heart and the willingness to provide a home and support for kids who are trying to go a different route. We’ve selected and recruited people for this population and we also have longstanding foster parents that we felt would be good with these youth.
AG: Regenerations provides a lot of assistance. Is some of that financial on top of counseling and other services?
MB: We create individualized services for each youth in terms of what they need. So yes, if needed, we may have to move a family out of a certain neighborhood either to avoid gang territory they need to walk through or if they’re at risk in that territory that has some gang activity and want to get out of it and avoid a peer group that may use violence. We also hire folks who know how to navigate the communities and the informal structures that exist in those communities within Chicago. If necessary, we will provide monetary assistance. We will rent a truck and have staff help move or provide a first month’s deposit if a family doesn’t have that. We have also supported work efforts. If a youth is trying to build on his or her strength, say be an auto mechanic, for example, if they have done well in a traditional structured environment and can tolerate that type of program, we’ll send them to community college. But if they cannot, we’ll go to a community resource. We’ll ask the local repair shop around corner if they’re willing to give them a chance and we’ll pay their salary for the first couple of months and if they work out, then they pick up that salary. That’s the only time we put money into the youth’s pocket, other than the allowance they’re required to receive under state standards.
AG: How long have you been accredited by COA and how has accreditation contributed to the program’s success?
MB: That’s a good question. I know we were one of the first in Illinois to be accredited but we’ll have to check [37 years]. Meeting the national standards for quality and the standards of what a human services organization that’s focused on quality should look like helps provide a yardstick and a guide in all of our programs. When we designed Regenerations, [being accredited] helped to ensure that quality people with the proper education and background, that the proper mix of professional services are in place and that the administrative standards that we have and the metrics are in place to support the staff that is doing very difficult work.
AG: The avoidance of residential care mirrors the goals of the 2018 federal Family First Prevention Services Act.
MB: We realized that residential treatment was not the appropriate services for our primary population. That is what Illinois was doing – sending every kid who came out of prisons straight into residential, but many of the kids did not have serious mental health issues that needed residential treatment. It was really more, for lack of a better term, the street behavior. So they didn’t do well in residential. In fact many of them ran away, which violated their parole and they’d go back into prison. What we did was say “let’s put them where they want to go.” We know in foster care and child welfare that when kids run away, 99% of the time we know where they go – right back to relatives or whomever they deem as their family. So Illinois would cut them off from services, but we said “let’s give them the same level of service no matter where they’re at and put them where they’re going to run away to anyway.” Any time a child can be cared for in the least restrictive environment possible, that’s what’s appropriate.
Individuals, agencies and associations in the child welfare space have been preparing for the initial implementation date of the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) even before it was signed into law in February of last year.
This act, which aims to change the face of child welfare in the United States, required implementation by October 1, 2019, unless a particular state opted to delay enforcing its provisions for up to two years. At last count, only nine states, plus the District of Columbia, are planning for early (2019) implementation of FFPSA.
For more than a year, Jennifer Flowers, CEO of Accreditation Guru, has delivered numerous presentations around the country about FFPSA’s accreditation mandate for a new category of congregate care providers: Qualified Residential Treatment Providers (QRTPs).
It’s fitting that on October 1, the birthday of FFPSA’s implementation, Jennifer moderated a panel at the Texas Child Care Administrators Conference, which included panelists representing the three approved accrediting bodies as well as Kristene Blackstone, Associate Commissioner for Child Protective Services in Texas – one of the largest CPS programs in the nation. Following Jennifer’s summary of FFPSA and what it means to become a QRTP, the panel launched into a lively discussion about accreditation and the rollout of FFPSA in the State of Texas.
For more information about FFPSA, visit AG’s webpage devoted to this topic. And, for inquiries about assistance with preparing for national accreditation or for information about Jennifer Flowers speaking at your event, please contact Rocio@AccreditationGuru.com.