Accreditation is an evaluation and approval process for organizations or programs that deliver a specific type of services, or set of services. The focus is on the organization/program providing the service(s). Accreditation is sponsored by a non-governmental agency, in which trained external peer and expert reviewers evaluate an organization’s conformance with pre-established performance standards. Although it is usually voluntary, it is often a requirement set by many diverse funders and purchasers of services.
At CAPRSS, we believe that accrediting programs that deliver PRSS will:
- create infrastructure necessary for peer service delivery, including standards-driven, continuous quality improvement;
- facilitate and disseminate promising, best, and, ultimately, evidence-based practices; and
- reinforce the recovery-based values and principles that underlie peer services and make them valuable and effective in supporting long-term recovery.
Further, the accreditation of organizations and programs embraces and includes the valuable wealth of volunteerism and service-giving that is inherent in the addiction recovery community. Accreditation will allow organizations and programs to continue to create volunteer work and resume-building opportunities for the many community members who may face legal barriers from the workplace (including certification) because of their histories with the criminal justice system, as well as those without formal work histories, and others who simply want to volunteer and give back. Under the accredtiation system, organizations and programs can also choose to pay peer service workers.
Finally, accredited organizations and programs will be able to oversee a variety of peer services in multiple settings (e.g. community, treatment, primary care, corrections, etc.) and be accountable for quality assurance, ethical practice, risk management, recovery-orientation, strength-based approaches, and peer integrity. This is consistent with the philosophy and principles of peer practice, firmly grounding the focus, responsibility, and decision-making within the organized addiction recovery community.
Many accreditation programs use external peers and expert reviewers as evaluators in a peer review process. Using the peer review approach allows individuals from RCOs with experiential expertise in operating peer support programs to be of service to other organizations, promoting a community of practice. The process has the potential of enhancing the ability of all involved to serve the recovery community by learning from each other.