Most are unaware there is a national organization that gives a seal of approval to agencies like ours for meeting or surpassing a set of performance standards. We were first accredited by the Council on Accreditation in 2001 and have maintained that accreditation through two successive evaluation processes. This will be our third.
We are one of 20 or fewer agencies of our kind in the state of Ohio to achieve accreditation.
Why is this important to you? It gives you confidence our agency is performing on par with the best in the country. I am adamant that we do our best to serve the children and families of Hamilton County and this review process keeps us on that track.
The COA reaccreditation process involves a detailed review and analysis of both an organization’s administrative operations and its service delivery practices. All are “measured” against national standards of best practice. These standards emphasize services that are accessible, appropriate, culturally responsive, evidence based and outcomes-oriented. In addition, the COA confirms that the services are provided by a skilled, credentialed and supported workforce and that all individuals are treated with dignity and respect.
As you can imagine, this takes quite a bit of preparation on our part. Thus, we are beginning now, getting a jump on a process that will ultimately take more than a year. We will do a self study in several areas of the division, along with surveys of key stakeholders. This will eventually end with a site visit where the agency will be scrutinized by experts in our field.
We last went through this in 2011 and we fared quite well. The Council on Accreditation’s exhaustive review found us compliant in all practice areas. The reviewers were impressed with many things, including our open communication with staff about budget issues, our process to provide a safe environment for staff and consumers, our robust online information for staff and the public, and our collaborative projects with community partners.
They also gave us high marks for staff knowledge of, and adherence to, protocol on the rights of Children’s Services and Adult Protective Services clients. And, they spoke highly of the speed and agility of our 241-KIDS staff’s performance.
This next review comes at a crucial time for our agency. We are trying to make two key improvements, not just in Children’s Services, but throughout the agency:
- We want to get better at customer service. We want to serve you faster. We want to be more polite. We want to be more thorough. We want you to walk away feeling respected and with a good feeling about your encounter with us.
- We want to raise the performance level of our employees. That means making current employees feel more valued and supported so they are better able to do their jobs. It also means using best practices to ensure we hire top-notch new employees who are committed to doing their best for Hamilton County families and children.
We believe if we are successful with the second goal, reaching the first goal will come naturally.
So, I am eager to hear what the review team will say about us when they visit next year. With the improvements we are making, I expect even better results.