In the last year, two of our facilities re-accredited through the American Correctional Association (ACA). All six of our facilities were re-accredited through the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). In fact, KPEP is the only agency in the State of Michigan to be accredited by the ACA and CARF. That’s quite an accomplishment, and credit goes to our incredibly talented and dedicated staff.
While CARF accreditation is required for both our outpatient and residential treatment licenses, ACA is not. We’ve chosen to undertake ACA accreditation – the more stringent and time consuming of the two – because it’s highly relevant to what we do, and the review process holds us to the highest standards in the industry.
We are also compliant with the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), with three of our facilities becoming PREA compliant for the first time this past year. PREA compliance was mandated by our Bureau of Prisons contracts three years ago and our Michigan Department of Corrections contracts this year.
What does this mean?
Because this was such a big year for KPEP accreditations, Andelin Goolsby, our accreditation manager, takes us through the process of ACA accreditation. By understanding the rigor of the process, we can begin to get a picture of why it is so important.
“In order to be accredited by the American Correctional Association, an agency must be in compliance with 100% of the 32 mandatory standards and 90% of the 218 non-mandatory standards,” she explains. “These include standards for the facility, security, food service, programming, health care and environmental conditions amongst other things, and they are part of how we do business every day.
“The auditors spend two days with us reviewing all of our records, inspecting our facilities, interviewing staff and residents, and eating the food,” says Andelin. “They spend time at the facility on each of our three shifts. In other words, it is a very thorough examination of our operation.”
In addition to reviewing standards, the audit team also tries to get a sense of the “culture” of the organization.
“In every audit since we started this process in 2004, culture has been highlighted as a real strength at KPEP,” Andelin reports. “They assess things like, ‘Do staff feel good about the work they are doing? Are they invested in the program? Do the residents feel like they are being treated fairly?’ and ‘Are they learning anything while they are here?’
“The auditors are well trained and experienced in this field, so they are quick to pick up on any problems that may exist,” she says. “However, in each audit, the majority of the staff and residents report good conditions and a positive atmosphere.”
Andelin takes pride in the culture at KPEP and links it to results.
“We work hard to make this a safe and secure environment for both staff and residents. It is the only way that the rehabilitative changes we are trying to accomplish can occur.”
Beyond compliance standards and culture, ACA accreditation also pushes KPEP to maintain rigorous training requirements.
“New employee training requirements differ depending on the job description,” she explains. “Those who have direct resident contact must complete 120 hours of training in the first 12 months of employment. Once 12 months of employment has been reached, training is measured on a calendar year basis. Full time employees must complete a minimum of 40 hours per year, part time employees a minimum of 20 hours per year, and support staff a minimum of 16 hours per year. New employees who don’t have direct resident contact are required to meet the annual, calendar year requirements.”
To meet these requirements, KPEP offers a variety of training opportunities for staff, including outside training and conferences, guest speakers and a website dedicated to training resources. Some of the most highly attended trainings in the last year included the ABC’s of Manipulation, Drug Education, Cultural Diversity, Motivational Interviewing, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Suicide Awareness/Prevention.
“It takes time, effort and money, but,” contends Andelin, “by adhering to these standards, we enhance the quality of the services we provide.
“It should also give people outside our agency – including lawmakers, referral sources, family members and the communities we serve – confidence in our programs. We value the reputation we have earned, and we hope to maintain that reputation by adhering to the highest standards and maintaining these important accreditations.”
Rigorous? Yes. Worth the investment? Without question.