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Why This Is Important

With the widespread development of agencies supporting people with developmental disabilities in the 1950's, 1960's, and 1970's, different states and organizations began to deal with the quality of support provided by those agencies. Over the years, professionals, family members, the general public and governments became aware of abuses, neglect, overcrowding, peonage and dehumanization in institutions, nursing homes, board and care homes, and other facilities often warehousing people with disabilities. The federal government, states and local government agencies began to set minimum standards for care; if agencies did not meet at least these minimum criteria, they were subject to losing their funding and closure. These minimum standards were also part of a particular agency being licensed, and these licensing procedures included health, safety, and basic care standards. Some people began to look beyond these minimum standards, and looked to see how higher-quality levels of care and support could be promoted. Much as universities and colleges are accredited as meeting quality educational standards, nationwide accrediting bodies in human services began to emerge to promote higher quality. In some states, accreditation procedures substituted for the state's licensing procedures. In other states, if agencies were accredited they could be eligible for additional funding and other benefits. Through the 1980's the accrediting bodies often based their standards on required rules and professional standards considered best practices. An accreditation visit by a professional team often meant an agency spending months of preparation to make sure all the paperwork was in order and complete, and all the required procedural practices in place. In the late 1980's and during the 1990's the accrediting agencies began to look to better ways to ensure quality services. They began to shift their focus from paper and procedural processes to the lives of the people who received services from the agency. They began to use the "personal outcomes" occurring in the lives of the people who received services to determine if an agency was really providing quality services. An accrediting review began to place more emphasis not just on whether an agency was meeting basic minimum standards (quality assurance) but how could quality be improved (quality enhancement). Recommendations have become based more on principles of continuous quality improvement. The accrediting processes to determine whether individuals who receive services are achieving good personal outcomes in their lives are is based on principles and experience that the quality of service and support depends on the quality of the person-centered planning processes which the agency uses. In this department you will find information about these accreditation opportunities.

This web site is maintained by the Research and Training Center on Community Living with support from the National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services, the Human Services Research Institute and the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. E-mail weste050@umn.edu.
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