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 Info@AccreditationGuru.com or 212.209.0240.

EAGLE Recognized now as an Approved Accreditor for QRTPs Under the Family First Prevention Services Act

On May 15, it was announced that EAGLE Accreditation Program is recognized by the Department of Health and Human Services as an approved accreditor for Qualified Residential Treatment Programs (QRTPs) under the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA). As we have discussed here, FFPSA, which passed in February 2018, allows federal funds to be spent on preventative services to help keep families together and also restricts funding on congregate care or group homes for children and youth who require removal from their families. In part, FFPSA mandates that all residential treatment providers convert to QRTPs, a new licensing category, in order to be eligible for reimbursement through Title IV-E foster care funds after the first two weeks of child placement.

One of the requirements to become a QRTP is to be accredited by CARF, COA, The Joint Commission and now, for the first time, EAGLE Accreditation.

EAGLE, which stands for Educational Assessment Guidelines Leading toward Excellence, is the only faith-based accrediting body in the country. It focuses on ministries serving older adults, children, youth and families, and those with developmental disabilities with emphasis on excellence, quality and how applicant organizations incorporate their Christian mission, religious heritage and values throughout the organization and its daily operations. EAGLE accreditation has provided an option for faith-based organizations since 1984.

The EAGLE Accreditation Program is operated by the United Methodist Association of Health and Welfare Ministries (UMA).

“We are proud of this recognition for EAGLE,” said Mary Kemper, president and CEO of UMA. “As an accreditor of faith-based organizations for more than 40 years, EAGLE has a solid history of promoting excellence with the added focus on organizations’ faith-based mission, vision and values.”

For questions about EAGLE or other accrediting bodies and for assistance preparing your organization to become a Qualified Residential Treatment Program, please contact Accreditation Guru at Info@AccreditationGuru.com.

For more information about FFPSA, visit our FFPSA Resource Page and blog.

For full press release click here.

Is Your Organization Staying Competitive in Today’s Environment?

In today’s increasingly competitive environment, health and human service organizations often struggle to distinguish themselves. Providing high quality services is a given, but to establish your brand, you must demonstrate that you make a difference in the lives of those you serve.

Some critical factors that can help maintain your organization’s competitive edge include earning national accreditation, reporting on service outcomes (not just outputs) and recruiting and maintaining a qualified, well-trained workforce.


Achieving accreditation affirms that child welfare, behavioral health, employment and community service organizations meet or exceed professional-grade quality standards in service delivery. It also gives clients and other key stakeholders an appropriate tool for effectively evaluating service providers.

Organizations that earn accreditation reach beyond minimum licensing standards and make a long-term commitment to strong governance, program consistency, outcome measurements and continuous improvement throughout their agencies.

Accreditation requires organizations to undergo an objective review by an independent accrediting body. The designation signifies that agencies effectively manage their resources and enhance the quality of life of the population served.

Individuals and families increasingly regard the accredited status of an agency as an important factor when considering where to seek services.*

Performance Improvement and Reporting on Outcomes

With detailed digital data available just a few clicks away, health and human service organizations are being held accountable for measuring service outcomes – not just outputs. This new development requires the collection and analysis of relevant data to discover trends and patterns. The key is to make improvements (or expand upon achievements) where necessary.

Outputs are quantifiable data points related to the numbers of people served, frequency of home visits made, time in care and other common variables. However, outputs measure the impact that services have on the lives of those in care or treatment, including knowledge transferred, behaviors changed, improved homelife stability and other revealing and quantifiable data points.

In fact, all organizations seeking to gain and maintain accreditation are required to record and report outcome statistics as part of their performance improvement programs. Compiling performance indicators in a transparent, easy to understand manner will help service providers connect with clients, families and donors in a meaningful way and, in turn, allow them to be more competitive.

In the nonprofit arena, the relationship with donors has been forever transformed by technology and the unyielding desire for increased information that supports educated giving decisions. Providing reports on outcomes can also help non-profits tell their story and compete for hard-won donor dollars.

Qualified Workforce

Recruiting and retaining a well-trained, qualified workforce is the key to providing high quality services, reducing operational and programmatic risk, maintaining an organization’s reputation and contributing to institutional stability.

To attract talented employees, agencies should institute standardized recruiting procedures, conduct primary-source verification of education and licensure, perform background checks and review criminal history records for those individuals who work directly with vulnerable or at-risk people and develop effective onboarding processes.

In the health and human service field, top-quality employees aim to work for nationally accredited entities, an achievement that demonstrates your organization’s commitment to quality and to investing in its workforce.

It is easier to retain a qualified workforce by focusing on training, staff satisfaction, professional development and transparency. Investing in your people will foster a more stable workforce and enhance the quality of provided services – all of which helps make your organization more competitive.


Implementing steps to retain your organization’s competitive edge takes time and effort, but think about the alternatives: If you neglect the opportunity to continually improve, your reputation will ultimately suffer.

Earning national accreditation provides a framework for improving operations, measuring and reporting on outcomes, recruiting and supporting employees and providing quality services – which help maintain your organization’s competitiveness in an ever-changing environment.

For assistance preparing for national accreditation, or with any of the items mentioned in this article, please contact us at Info@AccreditationGuru.com.

* See our article on using accreditation as a marketing tool for more information.

Team Member Highlight – Tracy Collander

Tracy Collander

Tracy first became familiar with the accreditation world when she began working for Gateway Foundation in 2007.  Gateway Foundation is accredited by The Joint Commission, and she became familiar with TJC behavioral health accreditation during her 6 years as executive director for Gateway Aurora.

Her knowledge of accreditation became much stronger as she became Executive Director of The Joint Commissions Behavioral Health accreditation program, as she had the opportunity to work closely with the accreditation team, behavioral healthcare leaders, and advisory members.  Now that she is back in the field, she continues to value accreditation as a road map to leading a safe, high quality organization.  She believes this is critical for engaging a team that is invested in providing the best care possible to people in need.  Her Joint Commission experience has been so valuable to her as a leader – it reinforces her resolve to provide the best possible leadership to her team in support of the care that people deserve to receive.

She enjoys spending time with her two teenage boys, husband, and dog.  Her boys are both involved in sports, so much of their free time is spent cheering on their baseball/basketball teams locally or on the road.  When at home, they love watching movies together or hanging out with friends.

She also enjoys outdoor activities – gardening, walking her dog, running, golfing…boating when they have a chance to get to a lake… hiking when she visits her brother in Oregon or sister in Arizona…and skiing when it snows in the Midwest or when they travel to visit her siblings.  Both her husband and Tracy are from big families, so there is often a birthday, holiday, or other event to celebrate as well!

When she has downtime, she loves to read (or listen to books on Audible when driving), particularly suspense books, historical fiction novels, and leadership books.

We are happy to have Tracy on the Accreditation Guru team!

The Advantages of Accreditation

Some human service agencies view accreditation as a luxury. Others see it as a hassle. Yet the benefits are undeniable.

Achieving national accreditation 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.

Attempting to cultivate a culture of excellence and reach lofty goals enhances your reputation, but accreditation also offers more practical benefits: it’s a reliable way to increase revenue and decrease costs, objectives that are valued by almost every human service agency.

Accreditation Requirements

Due to the advent of the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA), many child welfare organizations that provide residential, out-of-home care and seek federal government funds are required to be accredited, a mandate that takes effect beginning in October of this year (though states have the option to delay the process for up to two years).

Several states also require that various types of service providers become accredited as a qualifying step toward earning their license or receiving higher reimbursement rates.

Culture of Excellence

Without question, accreditation signals to potential funders and clients that your organization adheres to high standards, internal cohesion and exemplary service delivery.

Other benefits include improved internal and external stakeholder communication and enriched staff training programs that, in part, lead to enhanced services to clients.

The results of a questionnaire sponsored by the Council on Accreditation affirm these assertions:

* 94 percent of respondents agree that the process “improves transparency and accountability”

* 86 percent contend that it “improved outcomes for the people they serve”

* 90 percent acknowledge that it “improved their quality of services”

Gaining accreditation from a prominent agency also demonstrates your commitment to reach beyond the minimum licensing standards and maintain strong management, program consistency, financial controls, outcome measurements and continuous improvement.

Financial Incentives and Quality Improvement

Beyond the cultural benefits to earning accreditation, there are more practical reasons to seek this distinction. According to The Joint Commission, a prominent accrediting agency, the accomplishment beefs up your bottom line by increasing reimbursement rates, in part by reducing paperwork preparation time.

Accreditation forces organizations to focus on quality improvement and measure outputs and outcomes of deliverables, which both funders and stakeholders are increasingly demanding.

Planning service offerings and maintaining meticulous documentation can attract additional recognition and funding sources from governments, foundations, grant makers and individual donors.

It also boosts referral volume. The Joint Commission contends that other positive outcomes include an increased “ability to work with a broad array of clients” that improves “an organization’s ability to participate in referral networks, thus potentially increasing the value of referrals.”

The Joint Commission further found that “payers want to work with organizations that provide high quality services, which helps elevate their brand” and pay public relations and marketing dividends.

Accreditation decreases risk due to the development of management plans, which in turn lowers liability and insurance costs. Data collection, an increased effectiveness of care and improved intake billing also streamline costs.

A recent study sponsored by CARF International, another accrediting body, compiled startling statistics demonstrating that CARF-accredited programs experienced a 26 percent increase in persons served annually, a 37 percent increase in conformance to quality standards and a 37 percent increase in annual budget dollars programs from before their first survey as compared to their latest survey.

Accreditation in Action™

“The accreditation and re-accreditation process helped us raise the bar for our staff and the population that we serve,” said Hughes Johnson, managing director of compliance and performance improvement at Memphis-based Youth Villages, which operates in 14 states across the country, shared his organization’s experiences with accreditation.

“It’s a tough process with a large number of standards, but it helped us develop a defined policy that holds us accountable.”

According to Elizabeth Carey, president and CEO at Starr Commonwealth, which offers programs for children and families in Albion, Michigan, her organization is dedicated to “performing at the highest levels for the children, families and communities we serve.” Therefore, “achieving and maintaining accreditation is a critical factor to ensuring high quality.”

The Payoff

Many human services agencies claim that they adhere to upholding high ethical and client service standards.

Far from being a chore, achieving accreditation has become a necessity for all human service organizations participating in today’s competitive environment. In addition to sending a definitive sign that quality and consistent professionalism permeate your organization’s culture, it offers tangible benefits that pay dividends every day.

For more information or for assistance with becoming nationally accredited, contact us at info@AccreditationGuru.com.

Time is Tight: Seek Accreditation Now for QRTPs [as Mandated by the Family First Prevention Services Act]

The new Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) has generated many questions about the timing of when each state will decide to implement the regulations and, in turn, when the new category of residential settings called Qualified Residential Treatment Programs (QRTPs) are required to become nationally accredited. Accreditation for qualified residential treatment programs has thus become a hot topic for such centers.

FFPSA is changing the face of child welfare by authorizing federal dollars to support prevention services for children identified as being in “imminent risk” of entering foster care. It also shifts the focus from relying on congregate or group care settings to keeping children in family-like atmospheres – specifically foster family homes.

Under FFPSA, with limited exceptions, states will be able to dedicate federal Title IV-E funding for children’s care maintenance payments in a residential setting after the first two weeks of placement. Approved settings, including the new QRTPs, must use a trauma-informed treatment model and employ registered or licensed nursing staff and other licensed clinical staff who are onsite according to the treatment model and  available 24 hours a day and seven days a week.

The law institutes other requirements related to formal assessments of children that ensure the appropriateness of the placement, family engagement and aftercare support for at least six months post-discharge. For additional information, visit: http://www.ncsl.org/research/human-services/family-first-prevention-services-act-ffpsa.aspx

States’ Decisions – To Delay or Not Delay?

FFPSA specifies that to be considered as an official QRTP, the program must be licensed and accredited by a Department of Health and Human Services-approved accreditation agency: Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF), Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations or Council on Accreditation (COA) by October 1, 2019, unless a state requests a delay for up to two years.

States are presently weighing their options to request a delay or “opt-in” to comply with the new restrictions regarding reimbursement. States must submit their request to the HHS Children’s Bureau by November 9, 2018 if they intend to delay the effective dates of certain provisions in the Family First act. However, states may still change their decision after their plan has been submitted, so nothing is definitive at this point – except that QRTPs will need to become accredited.

A number of service providers are opting to wait and see if their state will delay the effective dates with the hope that this will provide additional time to become nationally accredited. However, a delay in accreditation for qualified residential treatment programs is a gamble on the service provider’s future.

“I recommend that non-family-based care providers like group homes or residential programs who wish to become a licensed QRTP, begin the process of accreditation now,” said Leslie Ellis-Lang, Managing Director, Child and Youth Services at CARF. “It is the safest action.”

Accreditation for Qualified Residential Treatment Programs

Most service providers require 12 to 18 months or more to become nationally accredited. With the initial effective date of October 1, 2019 one year away (unless a state delays enactment), there is still some time to complete the process.

To meet the FFPSA deadline, organizations must consider the time necessary to:

  • Select an accrediting body
  • Secure budgetary allotment and board approval
  • Develop accreditation-required plans, including an organization-wide strategic plan, among others
  • Prepare standards-compliant policies, procedures and protocols
  • Implement accreditation standards (both CARF and COA require six months of conformance with standards before an onsite survey may take place; Joint Commission does not require this “look back”)
  • Make operational, service delivery and facilities improvements, as necessary
  • Prepare staff and board members for the accrediting body’s onsite survey

Accreditors’ Efforts and Deadlines

Under such a sweeping federal mandate as FFPSA, thousands of organizations throughout the United States will apply for accreditation at the same time, which can strain the capacity of the accrediting bodies.

The good news is that each of the three (presently) approved agencies (CARF, COA, Joint Commission) have been proactively preparing for this onslaught of new applicants by increasing their operational staff and adding surveyors to conduct the onsite reviews.

Yet each accrediting body has its own timeline, based on when applications are due and the scheduling of onsite surveys. Regardless of which body is selected, an organization should generally estimate that it will take at least 12 months to achieve accreditation.

In order to complete the process and receive accreditation by October 1, 2019, organizations must submit their application and deposit by the following deadlines:


CARF recommends that organizations choosing to use the 2018 Child and Youth standards for their survey and wanting to be notified of their outcome prior to October 1, 2019, should submit their application by December 31, 2018.


COA’s application deadline for organizations working toward the October 1, 2019 benchmark is November 19, 2018.

Also, in October 2018, COA will provide an application fee refund (in the form of a credit against future fees) for organizations that are mandated by FFPSA and are pursuing accreditation for the first time. An organization must complete its initial application by October 3 and fully execute an accreditation agreement by October 31, 2018 in order to receive this benefit.

The Joint Commission:

To complete the accreditation process and receive a Joint Commission accreditation award by October 1, 2019, organizations are “strongly encouraged” to submit an application and deposit by December 31, 2018 with a request for onsite survey (“ready date”) of no later than April 1, 2019.

Regardless if a state decides to opt-in or delay the FFPSA regulation and requirement for QRTPs, all service providers are strongly encouraged to begin the road to national accreditation as soon as possible. No matter what a particular state decides to do, the mandate is here to stay. Don’t gamble on your organization’s future!


Accreditation Guru is available to assist in the accreditation for qualified residential treatment programs, child welfare and behavioral healthcare organizations nationwide as they navigate the road to accreditation in an efficient and streamlined manner. For more information, contact us at Info@AccreditationGuru.com.


Accreditation Mandate? Panic or Plan!

Accreditation mandates are all the talk among leaders of human service organizations. Thanks to the recent passage of the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) on the national level and state mandates for accreditation, like one recently instituted for adult foster care providers in Massachusetts, many child, family and behavioral healthcare service agencies are becoming alarmed about having to complete the complex accreditation process within short deadlines. Well, they can either panic or plan!

Accreditation requires that organizations undergo an objective review by an independent accrediting body and signifies that they are effectively managing their resources and enhancing the quality of life for the population served. Providers that earn accreditation signal their desire to reach beyond the minimum licensing standards and make a long-term commitment to strong governance, program consistency, outcome measurement and continuous improvement throughout their agencies.

Achieving accreditation is a worthy endeavor, even if it is a requirement, but many organizations underestimate the time commitment involved. In general, it takes 12 to 18 months to prepare for national accreditation – sometimes more, sometimes less, depending on the original state of readiness.

Effective project management from the beginning is key. You must plan for an even flow of work in order to avoid a rush at the end. You also need to allow time for significant steps in the process, including, but not limited to:

  • Selecting an accrediting body. (See our tip sheet on how best to approach this evaluation.)
  • Securing budgetary allotment and board approval.
  • Each accrediting body calculates its own application fees, survey costs and annual fees, which may vary widely based on the revenue size of the organization being reviewed, and/or the number of programs and locations. Staff time, operational improvements and consultants (if utilized) may also add to overall expenditures.
  • Preparing standards-compliant policies, procedures, plans and protocols.
  • Making operational and service delivery improvements, as necessary.
  • Implementing updated processes to conform with accreditation standards.
  • Participating in a mock survey.

When an accreditation mandate is enacted, a deadline is imposed on organizations. Remember, though, that there may be hundreds or many hundreds of organizations trying to become accredited at the same time and the accrediting bodies only have a finite amount of capacity to accommodate all of these applicants.

With the Family First Prevention Services Act, for example, congregate care providers must become accredited “Qualified Residential Treatment Providers” (QRTPs) by October 1, 2019. Though states have the option to extend this deadline for up to two years, all affected service providers should already be proactively working toward accreditation.

When a mandate is instituted, impacted organizations should begin the accreditation process as soon as possible to get ahead of the influx of other providers seeking to become accredited and have enough time to thoroughly and calmly 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.

Clearly, it is better to plan rather than panic!

Accreditation Mandate for QRTPs Under FFPSA: Start the Process Now!

When it passed the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) last February, Congress aimed to change the face of child welfare, in part by implementing a funding shift that restricts the use of Title IV-E financing for out-of-home “congregate care” placements. The goal is to increase assurances that children will be kept in family-like settings whenever possible.

One section of FFPSA defines a Qualified Residential Treatment Program (QRTP), which is one of the few settings that will be allowed to receive federal reimbursements after the first two weeks a child has been in care.

A key provision of the Act is that QRTPs must be accredited by a national organization. This is a long process that should be undertaken as soon as possible because time to comply with the act is running out. Do not underestimate the effort it takes to achieve national accreditation. The time to begin the process is now.

Congregate care providers must become QRTPs by October 1, 2019 if they want to be eligible for this designation. While states have the option to extend this deadline for up to two years, all providers should be working toward next year’s October 1 deadline.

What does it mean to become a QRTP? In summary, the service provider must:

  • Be licensed and be accredited by at least one of three federally approved accreditors: The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF), Council on Accreditation (COA) or The Joint Commission (formerly JCAHO)
  • Use a trauma-informed treatment model
  • Have registered or licensed nursing staff and other licensed clinical staff, available 24/7, on-site according to the treatment model
  • Demonstrate family engagement and outreach, including siblings, in the child’s treatment
  • Provide discharge planning and family-based aftercare supports for at least six months post-discharge

The accreditation mandate sets a high bar, but one that helps ensure the delivery of high-quality care. Organizations that earn accreditation have reached beyond the minimum licensing standards and made a long-term commitment to strong governance, program consistency, outcome measurement and continuous improvement throughout their agencies.

Accreditation requires organizations to undergo an objective review by an independent accrediting body and signifies that they are effectively managing their resources and enhancing the quality of life for the population served.

Many organizations underestimate the time required to prepare for and become accredited. In general, it takes 12 to 18 months to prepare for national accreditation, sometimes more, sometimes less, depending on the original state of readiness.

The time needed to complete the accreditation process includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Selecting an accrediting body
  • Securing budgetary allotment and board approval
  • Preparing standards-compliant policies, procedures and protocols
  • Implementing accreditation standards
  • Making operational and service delivery improvements, as necessary
  • Participating in a mock survey

Because Family First represents a looming, national deadline for accreditation, there will be many hundreds (if not thousands) of organizations trying to become accredited at the same time. And the accrediting bodies only have a finite amount of capacity to accommodate all of these applicants.

Therefore, every organization should begin the accreditation process as soon as possible to get ahead of the rush. Once the process begins, effective project management and support from leadership will help ensure that accreditation activities are not derailed by other priorities that may crop up.


For information on how to effectively and pro-actively prepare for CARF, COA or Joint Commission accreditation, please contact Accreditation Guru, Inc. at Info@AccreditationGuru.com or 212.209.0240.

Jennifer Flowers Presents to Children’s Defense Fund in Washington, D. C

Washington, D.C. (May 1, 2018) — Jennifer Flowers, founder and CEO of Accreditation Guru, delivered a well-attended, well-received seminar to members of the National Child Welfare and Mental Health Coalition at the national headquarters of the Children’s Defense Fund in Washington, D. C. Several coalition members participated over conference call.Entitled “Family First Prevention Services Act – Accreditation 101: Understanding the Accreditation Process for Qualified Residential Treatment Programs,” the presentation covered the new law’s impact on congregate care programs throughout the United States and outlined the basic steps and considerations these organizations must undertake to comply with the statute.

“Jennifer’s reassuring, helpful presentation emphasized the positive impact of accreditation on the quality of care for children and walked through the multiple steps involved, reminding us all of the time it takes for service providers to work their way toward accreditation,” said Stefanie Sprow, deputy director of child welfare and mental health at the Children’s Defense Fund, which chairs the Child Welfare and Mental Health Coalition and its series on implementing the Family First Prevention Services Act. “As one of the nation’s foremost experts in this field, Jennifer’s perspective is invaluable.”
The new law, passed February 2018, requires all qualified residential treatment programs (QRTPs) to become accredited by October 1, 2019 if they want to receive Title IV-E federal funding. But because the accreditation process can sometimes take up to 18 months to complete and a large number of organizations have yet to begin the process, accrediting agencies will be stretched to meet the additional demand. Time is getting short, said Flowers.

Operating under the Children’s Defense Fund umbrella, the coalition consists of approximately 250 people, spanning national, state and local organizations, the bulk of which provide child welfare services.

The interesting and informative presentation outlined the many benefits of national accreditation and covered the basic steps along the accreditation journey. Providers must choose among three accrediting bodies approved by the Department of Health and Human Services, document their adherence to their rigorous standards, submit to a review and site survey by the chosen accrediting agency and maintain the standards for either a three or four year period.

She also offered some tips for helping to smooth the process. The long, involved process can be demanding for service providers, but, said Flowers, they can either “plan or panic.”

Addressing the group by phone from Memphis, Hughes Johnson, managing director of compliance and performance improvement at Youth Villages, which operates in 14 states across the country, shared his organization’s experiences with accreditation. He called Flowers’s presentation spot-on.

“The accreditation and re-accreditation process helped us raise the bar for our staff and the population that we serve,” he said. “It is a tough process with a large number of standards, but it helped us develop a defined policy that holds us accountable.”

Flowers, a nationally renowned expert on accreditation and best practices for human service providers, advises organizations undergoing accreditation.

“In general, service providers are laser-focused on delivering quality care and they often fail to realize that accreditation is a complicated, involved process,” said Flowers. “This served as a wonderful opportunity to help members of the coalition provide valuable information to their constituents and help introduce them to the process.”

About Accreditation Guru, Inc.
Accreditation Guru has helped guide private and public health and human service organizations through the national accreditation process by creating an efficient, systematic approach that has resulted in a 100 percent success rate. Their expertise also includes implementing performance measurement and quality improvement programs, developing long-term strategic plans and increasing the effectiveness of boards of directors. For information about their services and how they can help your organization Prepare for Greatness™, please visit https://accreditationguru.com.

Left to right:
Stefanie Sprow, Deputy Director of Child Welfare and Mental Health at the Children’s Defense Fund
Jennifer Flowers, Founder and CEO of Accreditation Guru
MaryLee Allen, Director of Policy, Children’s Defense Fund