Canton Leisure Services received its first accreditation in 2004,and has continuously maintained its status as an accredited agency. To help explain the process and benefits of accreditation, some questions and answers regarding this process are provided for information.
Nationwide, nearly 200 million people use local park and recreation services annually to enhance their physical and social well-being. They seek the highest quality recreation experiences. Agency self-assessment and peer review is an excellent process for evaluating the quality of the system, which delivers these services.
What does it mean to be an "Accredited Agency"?
Many professions have an accreditation process; including, but not limited to, hospitals, universities, fire and police departments, and some non-profit organizations. To achieve accreditation, an agency must fully assess their department's policies, practices, procedures, programs and facilities.
Who Administers Accreditation?
The Accreditation Program for Park and Recreation Agencies is administered by the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies, an independent body which is sanctioned by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) and the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA).
What are the benefits of becoming an accredited agency?
During the process there was extensive staff involvement, and, as a result, the department became a more cohesive unit. In addition, policies and procedures were optimized in order for the department to incorporate "best practices" in the field of parks and recreation. Staff committed to achieving the best by meeting each of the standards presented in the manual. It is a two year process and some changes in operations had to be made to meet those standards. Staff continues to be dedicated to excellence and have a greater understanding of each of the jobs performed within the department, and how working together achieves great things.
Benefits for the public:
- Assurance and validation of well-administered services in accord with approved professional practices.
- Potential for external financial support and savings to the public.
- External recognition of a quality governmental service.
- Holds and agency accountable to the public and ensures responsiveness to meet their needs.
- Improves customer and quality services.
Benefits for the agency:
- Public and political recognition.
- Increased efficiency and evidence of accountability Answers the question, "How are we doing" through extensive self-evaluation.
- Identifies areas for improvement by comparing an agency against national standards of best practices.
- Enhances staff teamwork and pride by engaging all staff in the process.
- Creates an environment for regular reviews of operations, policies, and procedures and promotes continual improvement.
- Forces written documentation of policies and procedures.
As a Canton resident, what does accreditation mean to me?
As a resident you can expect a high level of customer service and a staff that is responsive to your questions and your issues. It means you can go to a park or sign up for a program and expect the very best facilities and service within our financial means. Residents can share the pride with staff that Canton Leisure Services has achieved what only one other Parks and Recreation Agency in the state of Michigan has achieved, and only 119 other agencies nationwide.
Formal Accreditation Application & Self-Assessment
The agency undertakes a self-assessment study. This is the key phase because it engages t he entire agency -- employees, volunteers, citizen boards and committees -- in assessing the agency's effectiveness and efficiency. The agency has 24 months from the date of the preliminary application to submit their completed self-assessment workbook. National
accreditation requires park and recreation agencies to respond to 156 standards representing elements of effective and efficient park and recreation operations.
A peer review is performed by a Commission-approved visitation team to validate the degree to which the agency meets each applicable standard. To become accredited, agencies must demonstrate their ability to meet 138 standards (out of 156), 36 of which are designated as fundamental to quality operations and are required of all agencies. The team prepares a report, to which the agency may respond.
Based upon the total review process, the Commission, at either Congress or Midyear, (1) accredits, (2) accredits with conditions, (3) defers decision, or (4) does not accredit. Once accreditation is granted, an agency must repeat a similar process every five years in order to maintain its accreditation.
For more information visit the National Recreation and Park Association website at www.nrpa.org.