Written and Shared at 2022 FCSN Gala by Claire Go Brady, SEP Director
When FCSN’s Supported Employment Program was certified by DOR (Department of Rehabilitation) in late 2017, we were informed that we needed to receive The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) Accreditation by the 5th year. At that time, three years before, we had to start preparing for accreditation, which we didn’t think would be daunting. We just went through a certification process, so how difficult could it be?
We were so excited about the growth and development in the first few years of our Supported Employment Program (SEP) that we unintentionally set accreditation aside. Years flew by and all of a sudden it was time for us to start getting ready for the CARF Accreditation Review. January 2020 was the first time I read about CARF. To my surprise, the accreditation process was the exact opposite of what I had thought it to be. I realized that the process would be detailed and (oh-so) time-consuming. It was all hands on deck from that moment on. Upon learning about all the standards (a total of over 100) covered, it was impossible to not panic a little. In true FCSN fashion, a CARF Committee assembled right away so that all areas (operations, management, workforce, administration, finance, technology, health and safety, and organization) were covered.
In February 2020, preparation started immediately. Since this was our first accreditation, we needed to bring in an experienced consultant who could help us organize and prepare all the survey requirements. Marge Watson fit the bill; she guided us through the entire process and is a true blessing to FCSN. Her assistance lessened our accreditation survey fears.
In June 2021, we submitted our CARF application. We opted for an in-person survey as opposed to a virtual one. Our schedule was set for April 7th and 8th in 2022. Both our East and South Bay Centers were included in the survey. The survey required site visits, as well as interviews with BOD, FCSN Staff, Regional Center Representatives, DOR representatives, clients, clients’ employers, and family members — all on top of the documentation and protocol review.
When the day of the survey finally came, as you would imagine, I was a nervous wreck, but I was sure that everything was ready, well planned, and our quality of service was impeccable. The survey went on without a hitch. Site visits that were led by our wonderful program coordinator, Cathy Yang, were successful. Interviews by the surveyors happened with all the required stakeholders, and documents were painstakingly reviewed. On the last day of our survey, we were all ready to hear the results (verdict as I call it).
I am honored to share that Friends of Children with Special Needs (FCSN) completed our first successful CARF accreditation review and am proud to announce that we achieved the maximum accreditation possible of three years and received a commendation for our health and safety protocols in place.
The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) accreditation is an important marker of quality, person-centered services. This critical third-party endorsement acknowledges FCSN’s commitment to ongoing learning, best practices, and innovation.
Thank you to everyone who participated in this year’s CARF review process. Special mention to Sylvia Yeh (FCSN Executive Director), Cathy Yang (SEP Coordinator), and Marge Watson (Consultant), who worked with us from the very beginning and up to the end. I am very proud that CARF recognizes FCSN as a strong, wonderful organization with passionate and dedicated staff. We have been seen as positive influences in the lives of those we care about dearly.
I am so proud of our team. We worked hard for this accreditation, and it will improve our service quality. After two and half years of hard work, stress and preparation, do I think accreditation is worth it? YES, it definitely is.
More about CARF: CARF is an independent, nonprofit accrediting body whose mission is to promote the quality, value, and optimal outcomes of services through a consultative accreditation process and continuous improvement services that center on enhancing the lives of the persons served. Founded in 1966 as the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, and now known as CARF International, the accrediting body establishes consumer-focused standards to help organizations measure and improve the quality of their programs and services. For more information about the accreditation process, please visit the CARF website at www.carf.org.