Representatives from The Council on Quality and Leadership (CQL) announced that The Arc of Anchorage has received full accreditation by CQL. This announcement makes The Arc of Anchorage the first human services organization serving Alaskans who experience disabilities to receive accreditation by CQL. The announcement was made to a packed meeting room after an intense week of site visits, interviews, and meetings with representatives from CQL.
The Council on Quality and Leadership began in 1969 with the movement towards increased community-based services and less institutionalization for people who experience intellectual and developmental disabilities. In the 70s, the federal government adopted CQL’s standards for community agencies and for residential care facilities. CQL accredits 450 organizations worldwide.
Gwen Lee, Executive Director of The Arc, said, “The Arc requested accreditation by CQL because of their high standards for accreditation. We want The Arc to be the best place for Alaskans who experience disabilities to receive services. CQL looks beyond basic assurances of safety and also evaluated The Arc on the quality of life of the people we serve.”
Representatives from CQL spent a week in Anchorage evaluating The Arc. Aside from making sure The Arc met the standard for basic safety and welfare, they interviewed people served by The Arc to determine the level to which the organization helps people achieve their goals. CQL refers to this as person-centered services and personal outcomes.
Steven, a person served by The Arc, summed up person-centered services by saying, “We don’t want to feel like we are being worked on; we want to feel we are being worked with.”
The work really begins with accreditation because The Arc will repeat the process in four years. Over the next four years, The Arc will work on three focus areas. Action plans include: increasing a person’s involvement in planning for and meeting their goals, a stable and qualified workforce, and increasing information and training for staff. The Arc selected these focus areas based on the visit from CQL.
“Our goal is to continually raise the bar for services we provide. Everyone at The Arc is excited by the announcement. We will pause for celebration, but not for long because the focus areas will require a lot of work by our staff.” Lee said.