For the seventh time since 1992, Mercy Home for Boys & Girls has completed the accreditation process through the Council on Accreditation (COA), an independent non-profit accrediting organization. It is best practice for human service agencies to receive an outside review of their programs. For Mercy Home, it is also a requirement to maintain our state licensure.

The Process

A COA accreditation is valid for four years and the renewal process is no small task. Roughly 18 months prior to expiration, a team from our Organizational Development Department begins to coordinate efforts.

For Mercy Home, there are 583 items reviewed by COA under three standards—Administration and Management Standards, Service Delivery Administration Standards, and Service Standards. Those standards are divided amongst Mercy Home team members who collect documentation and review current policies for discrepancies.

For example, one of the newer sub-standards is related to technology and how organizations should handle electronic communications. Our team worked to ensure that our policies and practices were in line with COA’s standards. Through the process, we worked to encrypt computers for our therapists.

Once all the documentation has been reviewed internally, Mercy Home submits a large amount of paperwork to COA in a self-study, which begins the review process. Once COA receives the self-study and documentation, they send reviewers to observe and interview staff, board members, youth, and parents at each of our campuses.

The visits serve to confirm that the policies and documentation Mercy Home submitted in our self-study are used in our day-to-day work. The reviewer then prepares a preliminary report that addresses any standards that don’t meet expectations and would prevent accreditation. Once those issues are addressed, COA presents a final report and our official accreditation letter.

Our Accreditation

Mercy Home’s visit took place in February 2016, and we are happy to share that our reviewers gave us a glowing report. Because all standards met expectations, our accreditation was expedited!

Completing accreditation is an achievement that we are proud to have accomplished. Undertaking this process has helped hone our policies and procedures as well as ensuring the best care for the young men and women served by Mercy Home.

I want to thank our internal team who took on this monumental feat and the young men and women in our care for supporting our efforts through this process.

Do you have a question about the accreditation process? Leave us a comment and we’ll answer your questions.

Lori Kinast is Mercy Home’s Vice President of Organizational Development. Lori has been with Mercy Home since 2004. During her tenure, she has facilitated management trainings and managed Quality Improvement. Lori assisted in the creation and implementation of the Mercy Home’s model of youth care and has a master’s degree in Learning and Organizational Change from Northwestern University.


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