CLEARWATER – The Juvenile Welfare Board of Pinellas County has achieved national accreditation through the New York-based Council on Accreditation, one of the largest and most prestigious child- and family-services accrediting organizations in the country.
Organizations pursue accreditation to demonstrate the implementation of best practice standards in the field of human services.
The esteemed COA designation has been granted to only five other government entities in the state of Florida and only 47 other government entities nationwide. Plus, no organization like JWB, including Florida's Children Services Councils, has ever achieved COA accreditation. Not only is it rare for a publically funded agency to receive this honor, but JWB was expedited through the accreditation process, as COA reviewers did not grant any “out-of-compliance ratings” during the entire review period.
“This extraordinary achievement was made possible by the commitment and hard work of JWB staff and with the support of the JWB Board, Community Councils, funded partner agencies, and other community stakeholders,” said Dr. Marcie Biddleman, JWB executive director.
COA accreditation is an objective, independent, and reliable validation of an agency’s performance. The COA accreditation process involves a detailed review and analysis of an organization’s administration, management, and service delivery functions against international standards of best practice. The standards driving accreditation ensure that services are well coordinated, culturally competent, evidence-based, outcomes-oriented, and provided by a skilled and supported workforce.
COA accreditation demonstrates accountability in management of resources, sets standardized best practice thresholds for service and administration, and increases organizational capacity and accountability by creating a framework for ongoing quality improvement.
To achieve COA accreditation, JWB first provided written evidence of compliance with the COA Standards. Thereafter, a group of specially trained volunteer Peer Reviewers confirmed adherence to these standards during a series of on-site interviews with trustees, staff, stakeholders and consumers. Based on their findings, COA’s volunteer-based Accreditation Commission voted that the Juvenile Welfare Board of Pinellas County had successfully met the criteria for accreditation.
The Juvenile Welfare Board was created as an independent taxing authority by the citizens of Pinellas County in 1945 who believed all children mattered and made investments to improve their futures. Today, JWB responsibly invests in programs with proven results and creates innovative partnerships that benefit tens of thousands of children and families each year. These efforts not only strengthen children and families, but also neighborhoods, communities and schools.
“For nearly 70 years, Pinellas County agencies who serve children and families and receive public funds from JWB have been held to the highest standards through contractual agreements and onsite evaluations,” Biddleman said. “It was time we held ourselves to these same high standards by inviting an independent body – one of the highest regarded in the industry – to review our organization”.
An endorsement of COA and the value of its accreditation process is reflected in it being the only national accreditor designated by the U.S. Department of Defense to develop accreditation standards and processes for human service programs offered to military personnel and their families. In addition, COA was named by the U.S. State Department as the sole national independent accrediting body under the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption to accredit intercountry adoption service providers.