The Council on Accreditation (COA) peer review team had a whirl-wind visit to the Ranch Ehrlo Society from September 15th to 19th. The five-member team conducted on-site file reviews at the agency’s three campuses, toured various facilities, and conducted meetings and one-to-one interviews with staff, youth, and board members.

The site visit was the end of a year-long accreditation process, which occurs every four years. The lead up included an extensive self-study that had everyone at the agency look through their processes to ensure we continue to deliver high-quality services in the community.

COA accreditation demonstrates that our organization meets the highest national standards of best practice and that it is delivering the best quality services, which aligns with our commitment to excellence in our continuum of service delivery.

During the exit meeting on Sept. 19th Ranch employees gathered to hear comments from the COA peer review team. The five-person team consisted of Juanita Iwamoto from Kailua, Hawaii, Jane Hartman from Lutheran Services in Iowa, Bridget McLeman from the Children’s Home Society of Washington, Wendy Patterson from the Salvation Army Omaha Social Services, and team lead Dale Peterson from Catholic Family Services in Edmonton.

Wendy Patterson, Bridget McLeman, Dale Peterson, Jane Hartman, and Juanita Iwamoto (L to r) 

Common themes that emerged from the reviews included great homes that are available to participants, the strength of our staff, the inclusiveness and community focus of our programs, and how mission and principle-driven we are.

Juanita, who toured houses in the north and south, as well as homes in the Programs for People with Developmental Disabilities (PDD), spoke on the thought that went into the design of the homes as well as the strength of the programming in them. Some of the strengths include the less prescriptive daily schedules and community inclusiveness.

Jane mentioned that the Ranch was forward-thinking in having single bedrooms for clients, long before it became fashionable. She also commented on the strong connection to families she saw.

“Even if the families live, far, far away, they do anything they can to keep youth connected,” she explained.

Jane’s only recommendation for an area of improvement came from talking with staff who stated they would prefer their onboarding training earlier in their career at Ranch Ehrlo.

Bridget remarked on how all the staff she came across seemed to be all on the same page. She credited much of it to the integration of the CARE principles.

She added, “Staff made heroic efforts to work with families and it shows in your outcomes and talking with clients. They have a feeling of empowerment.”

Wendy also touched on how evident it is that our agency is mission-driven. She also mentioned how amazing the IT, risk management, and quality improvement resources were at the agency.

She also had the opportunity to visit the early learning centres and emergency receiving homes. Both areas she gave an outstanding review to, especially the emergency beds.

“I was blown away that these ‘shelters’ feel like homes for youth that are probably having the worst day or days of their lives.”

The last person to speak was team lead Dale. He mentioned the openness, honesty, and transparency of the agency from an ethics, financial, and governance perspective. He also had the opportunity to visit the family programs and PDD vocational programs which left him tearing up at the experience.

Ranch CEO Andrea Brittin thanked the team at the end of their presentation and thanked the staff and board for the work they had accomplished getting to this point.

“We think we are a pretty darn good organization and it is very nice to hear it said from five experts in the field!”

The agency is currently waiting for communication regarding any areas that might need to be addressed. Ranch Ehrlo will receive the initial accreditation report within 30 days.

Ranch Ehrlo was first accredited in 1977. We are one of only 47 COA-approved agencies in the country, and the only COA accredited organization in Saskatchewan!