Guest blog by Quality Improvement consultant Jennifer Murray
We strongly believe that adhering to best practices, as well as continual evaluation, helps us strengthen our services for the young people and families we serve. For that reason (and many more) we are accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA).
If you’ve been following this page for long, you’ve likely heard of COA. Maybe you even know that we were first accredited in 1971 and we get re-certified every four years. We are currently preparing for re-accreditation in 2019. The accreditation cycle is extremely in-depth, requiring 12 to 16 months of self study and evidence preparation. (That’s fancy speak for we need to get started now!)
Great. But what is COA?
COA is an international, non-profit human service accrediting organization that currently accredits more than 2,200 organizations. Their mission is to partner with community based social service organizations (that’s us!) to improve delivery and best-practice standards. They review agencies based on a set of standards which are developed in conjunction with international subject matter experts. These standards are statements that define the utmost level of quality in a great variety of areas.
Okay, awesome. But what is accreditation and how does the Ranch get it?
In short, accreditation is proof that we are adhering to best practices and we are doing our jobs to the best of our ability.
We first do an in-depth self review based against currently accepted best practice standards (which I mentioned earlier, takes over a year), which culminates in an on-site visit by an evaluation team.
The COA evaluation team, comprised of seasoned and skilled professionals, will audit our mission, history, leadership, culture, practices, environment, resources, and finances to develop a clear picture of our past, present, and future. They will also review all programs, sites, and facilities for consistent functioning according to both our policies and procedures and their standards.
The folks at COA take all that information into account while reviewing and deciding whether to renew our accreditation status for another four years.
Neat. But I’m still not sure why it matters?
Accreditation is an extremely valuable designation. It signifies that we as an organization are effectively managing our resources and providing the best possible services to all our stakeholders. The accreditation process is one of many strategies used at the agency to help strengthen, measure, and validate our effectiveness, ensuring that we are kept abreast of the latest research and practice in the human services field.
We are one of only 47 COA-approved agencies in the country, and the only COA accredited organization in Saskatchewan!