Agency Accreditation (CAPRA)
Charged with providing high quality recreation services and experiences, an increasing number of park and recreation agencies across the country are applying for the Agency Accreditation Program through the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA).
CAPRA administers a rigorous program based on self-assessment and peer review using national standards of best practice to better promote the quality of agency services and delivery systems.
Agency accreditation is available to all entities administering park and recreation systems, including municipalities, townships, counties, special districts and regional authorities, councils of government and schools.
Agency accreditation is voluntary, but an essential piece to producing quality environments for communities to play, live and grow.
Introduction to Agency Accreditation
Nearly 200 million people use local park and recreation services annually to enhance their physical and social well-being. They seek the highest quality recreation experiences. Agency self-assessment and peer review is an excellent process for evaluating the quality of the system, which delivers these services.
Who Administers Accreditation?
The Accreditation Program for Park and Recreation Agencies is administered by the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies, an independent body which is sanctioned by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) and the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA).
In 1989, the National Committee on Accreditation for Public Park and Recreation Agencies was formed by the AAPRA and the NRPA, with support from Michigan State University and the National Recreation Foundation, to develop a pilot program. It developed the standards and procedures, conducted the pilot program including training the visitors, and recommended the final version of the standards and procedures. A forerunner of the standards was a document, Standards and Evaluative Criteria, published in 1965 and revised in 1972 after field-testing. The Commission replaced the Committee, formally adopted the accreditation program, its standards and procedures, and is now fully responsible for the administration of the program.
Benefits of Agency Accreditation
What are the benefits of becoming an accredited agency?
Benefits for the public:
- Assurance and validation of well-administered services in accord with approved professional practices
- Potential for external financial support and savings to the public
- External recognition of a quality governmental service
- Holds and agency accountable to the public and ensures responsiveness to meet their needs
- Improves customer and quality services
Benefits for the agency:
- Public and political recognition
- Increased efficiency and evidence of accountability
- Answers the question, "How are we doing?" through extensive self evaluation
- Identifies areas for improvement by comparing an agency against national standards of best practice
- Enhances staff teamwork and pride by engaging all staff in the process
- Creates an environment for regular reviews of operations, policies, and procedures and promotes continual improvement
- Forces written documentation of policies and procedures
The department became the 47'th accredited department of the estimated 4,000 parks and recreation departments nationwide and the first in New England.
Serving the needs of the community by providing enriching recreation experiences and quality facilities.
- We will improve the health of our community through the provision of programming and facilities that encourage staying active and fit.
- We will ensure our department is citizen-driven by the consistent use of program and facility evaluation systems, community-wide surveys, and park project committees.
- We will be good stewards of the public facilities under our care. All facilities will be clean, safe, well maintained, and environmentally friendly.
- We will connect all citizens to our community by offering programs and facilities that encourage inclusion and participation.
- We will provide a wide variety of activities that encourage all segments of our population to use their free time both positively and productively, and promote life-long learning through recreational and cultural programs.
- We will develop facilities that will improve the livability of our community. These improvements will include recreation facilities, parks, open space, greenways, and multi-use paths.
- We will make service to our patrons a high priority by creating user-friendly procedures, eliminating red tape, and treating them as we would like to be treated.