For some, it’s peace of mind. For others, it’s a commitment to excellence and a dedication to the lives of people served. CARF (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities), International carries different meaning depending on whom you ask.
Dale Rogers Training Center (DRTC), Oklahoma’s largest and oldest community vocational training and employment center for people with disabilities, has won three-year accreditation honors in back-to-back surveys, looks to make it three-in-a-row in 2017.
But what does CARF accreditation mean for the 1,100 people served by DRTC and their families?
According to CARF’s website, “Accreditation demonstrates a provider’s commitment to continuously improve service quality and to focus on the satisfaction of the persons served.”
DRTC Vocational Programs Administrator Theresa Flannery, who is also a CARF Peer Surveyor, says DRTC’s efforts to ensure quality have a wide reach.
“We’ve taken the steps to voluntarily demonstrate to our family members and the people we serve that we think it’s important,” says Flannery.
A CARF survey is thorough to say the least. In DRTC’s case, a team of two-three surveyors will visit the agency and give the areas applying for accreditation the white glove treatment, leaving no stone unturned in its effort to ensure the highest quality of services provided for individuals.
Surveyors come from agencies throughout the country and only report on the areas of their expertise. They review an organization’s business practices, including financial reports, strategic planning, health and safety reports and other areas. Then a surveyor will look into the group’s philosophy and planning process for people with disabilities. Finally, the survey breaks down the service delivery by area, meaning surveyors look directly at the programs, how they operate and the services provided.
“You spend time with the people,” says Flannery. “You see what’s important to them. You see how the organization is meeting what’s important to them.”
They’re not only looking at how the programs function, they’re also speaking with family members, staff members and, in DRTC’s case, employers at work sites to learn how our practices are making a positive impact on the individual.
In all, a review of DRTC typically takes three days. From there, the surveyors will brief administrators and review any possible non-conformance issues, then file their report with CARF.
In 2014, CARF awarded DRTC three-year accreditations in:
- Community Employment Services: Employment Supports
- Community Employment Services: Job Development
- Organizational Employment Services
- Transition Services
Accreditations cover these DRTC programs:
- Employment Services—
Assists people obtain and maintain community jobs. An Employment Training Specialist (ETS) helps match an individual’s capabilities and skills with job openings in the area, works alongside the participant during the first several days to learn the job (at no additional cost to the employer), then eventually fades from the site as the participant becomes skilled at their new job.
- Vocational Services Program—gives individuals the opportunity to earn a paycheck through a variety of subcontract work options from many different companies. Participants also learn work skills at DRTC’s entrepreneurial divisions Prism Place and Wyman Frame.
Mobile Workforce— A crew of up to 8 people along with a trained staff member, works at local businesses alongside their employees.
- School-to-Work Transition Program—Program for high school juniors and seniors with disabilities focuses on community job exploration and learning transferable job skills to prepare the students for work upon graduation.
Once an agency wins accreditation, the work doesn’t end.
“If you don’t stay on top of it, you won’t do well in the (next) survey,” says Flannery. “They (CARF) want to know what you drilled on every quarter, month, year for safety and that you are requesting feedback from your stakeholders to improve services. It’s a constant process.”
CARF accreditation was once required by the Department of Rehabilitation, but as a result of a change in leadership, the mandate was lifted before 2014. Many agencies decided not to renew their accreditation, deciding instead to save the money paid to undergo the process.
Dale Rogers Training Center now looks to the future and the chance to earn another three-year accreditation from CARF. DRTC will file an Intent to Survey later this year and anticipates a survey in mid-2017.
As DRTC strives to create more work opportunities for people with disabilities, allowing them to become contributing, tax-paying citizens, the agency is confident in its services provided and the positive difference it is making in the lives of more than 1,100 people every year.
Dale Rogers Training Center (DRTC) is the oldest and largest community vocational training and employment center for people with disabilities in Oklahoma. With multiple locations in Oklahoma, DRTC trains or employs more than 1,100 people with disabilities per year. Visit us online: DRTC.org.