CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership

CQL Accreditation

Accreditation through CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership provides human service organizations and systems a proven framework for quality monitoring and enhancement. It goes far beyond just an on-site review, encompassing an ongoing partnership where CQL and the agency collaborate to ensure that person-centered approaches are playing out not only in policy but especially in practice. CQL Accreditation integrates internationally-recognized and trademarked tools to ensure that organizations continually improve the quality of supports and the quality of people's lives, leading to the achievement of individually-defined outcomes by people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, mental health diagnoses, older adults, and children and youth.

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Accreditation Components | Accreditation Process | Accreditation Options


What Is Accreditation?

A common understanding of the term accreditation involves the formal recognition of an organization for attaining a specified set of standards, often viewed as merely "passing a test." CQL's Accreditation approach is more about being on a journey toward ongoing organizational transformation. Rather than receiving a "passing score," it is about choosing the right path and making measurable progress. At CQL we often say we meet organizations where they are and help them move to a better place.

Why Is Accreditation Important?

Through an open, honest, and unbiased evaluation by outside experts, accreditation equips organizations with valuable information and action steps for improvement. When organizations rely on their own internal review of operations, they may unintentionally allow the investment they have in their organization to influence their outlook. Internal review also limits an organization to its pre-existing base of knowledge and insight, whereas accreditation aggregates best practices from other organizations.

"CQL is the reason why we are now thinking differently"


How is CQL Accreditation Different?

“We found CQL really impacts the people we support." - Susie Burke, Boundless (Ohio)
Our process isn't focused on paper, it's focused on people. Along with reviewing organizational policies and procedures, CQL uses proprietary and trademarked tools to ensure that those policies are actually playing out in agency supports, and more importantly, in the lives of people receiving supports. 

"It drives our commitment to continuous improvement." - Kelly Kinderman, CSDD (New York) 
Your accreditation experience with CQL doesn't begin and end with the on-site visit. CQL embraces a valued partnership with those who have achieved CQL Accreditation, throughout the entire accreditation term. CQL offers ongoing support, guidance, resources, check-ins, and insight for the organizations we work with. CQL's Quality Enhancement Specialists have diverse areas of expertise and work with hundreds of organizations across the globe; they bring together best practices they have witnessed at other agencies, and share how you can implement them at your organization.

"There was a true sense of excitement among all stakeholders." - Carmine Marchionda, ARC of Rockland (New York) 
The scope of other accrediting bodies can be limiting. CQL does not provide programmatic-level accreditation of specific service areas. CQL Accreditation encompasses an entire organization, as true transformation is predicated on change at all levels. All stakeholders take on an important role in the accreditation, as its effects impact each and every person connected to the agency.

"The CQL approach is building on strengths." - Jeff Pederson, retired, CHI Friendship (North Dakota)
CQL Accreditation is not a deficiency-driven process. We work with organizations to help improve supports and services by discovering areas of excellence and areas of improvement. We work with you to apply lessons learned from the strongest aspects of your agency and apply them to spots where growth is needed.

"CQL data is all very central to our strategic planning." - Kim Zoeller, Ray Graham Association (Illinois)
Organizations that partner with us use data collected through CQL's proprietary tools, to inform their decision-making and assess the return on their investments. If an organization is evaluating the effectiveness of a recent initiative or planning for a new one in the future, they can turn to evidence-based information and analyze data for planning and monitoring purposes. The information gathered and data collected can also be used at the individual level, in creating person-centered plans and tracking progress.

Who Has Achieved CQL Accreditation?

Hundreds of human service organizations across the United States, Canada, Ireland, and Australia have achieved CQL Accreditation. These organizations provide supports and services for various populations, including people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, those with mental health diagnosis, older adults, as well as children and youth. Double-click on areas of the map below to view the organizations accredited in that location. You can also view the full listing of agencies who have achieved CQL Accreditation.


CQL Accreditation Components

  • Pre-Accreditation Planning Meetings
    CQL will set up conference calls with members of your agency prior to the accreditation, where we will walk through the accreditation process, including expectations and next steps.
  • Organizational Self-Assessments
    Prior to CQL's in-person review, you will complete an organizational self-assessment to evaluate your operations, which CQL will validate during the review. The self-assessments should involve a diverse set of stakeholders to ensure an honest and transparent process. The result is not a grade, but a guided learning experience.
  • Site Visits
    During the in-person review, CQL staff will visit locations where you provide supports to evaluate how your policies, procedures, and overall values translate into the actual services and in people's lives.
  • Personal Outcome Measures® Interviews
    CQL will conduct interviews with people supported and organizational staff to learn about individually-defined outcomes and the supports needed to help people achieve those outcomes. We use a tool called the Personal Outcome Measures®, which explores 21 different quality of life indicators.
  • Basic Assurances® Reviews
    This evaluation looks at the essential, fundamental, and non-negotiable requirements for all organizations, involving issues of health, safety, and human security. The Basic Assurances® are not statements of intent, they are demonstrations of successful operations. Since CQL Accreditation is focused on continuous improvement, agencies are not likely to be in 100% alignment with all aspects of the Basic Assurances® indicators when they start their partnership with CQL. In fact, some organizations find that they fall out of alignment as people’s expectations change. While CQL does not expect 100% alignment, we do expect continuous learning and progress.
  • Focus Groups
    CQL staff will meet separately with organizational employees, people receiving supports, and potentially other stakeholders, to learn about their experiences and interactions with the organization.
  • Stakeholder Event
    During the conclusion of the Person-Centered Excellence and Person-Centered Excellence | With Distinction Accreditation in-person review, a wide range of organizational stakeholders come together to discuss action steps for the agency moving forward. This can include people supported, direct support professionals, executive leadership, family members, community officials, and more.
  • Data Collection & Analysis
    Through the use of CQL's proprietary tools, organizations can collect and analyze data about the outcomes and supports in people's lives. This data can be used to evaluate initiatives, develop strategic plans, direct person-centered plans, inform board of directors, and more. Access to the CQL's PORTAL Data System is included in your accreditation costs. 
  • Ongoing Support
    Organizations often cite continual collaboration with CQL as a significant benefit of achieving accreditation. CQL works as a partner throughout the accreditation term, sharing insight and expertise with the agency. Organizations will also have access to resources, information, webinars, and publications.  


CQL Accreditation Process

Whether you pursue a three-year or a four-year accreditation term, the overall process is similar. View the interactive guide below to learn more about the process. You can hover your mouse over each of the numbered steps for a more detailed description of what that step in the accreditation journey entails.


CQL Accreditation Options

CQL has three main accreditation options that offer an accreditation experience best suited for each particular organization's needs. They are all built on the firm foundation of systems and practices related to health, welfare, and human security involving Basic Assurances®, implementation of the person-centered discovery process called the Personal Outcome Measures®, and the alignment of organizational culture and behavior through Shared Values®. With the exception of Person-Centered Excellence Accreditation | With Distinction, the determination of accreditation achievement is made at the conclusion of the on-site review.

Systems Accreditation

This accreditation option is intended solely for new human service organizations that have not yet begun to provide services, but are required to achieve accreditation by state regulations.

  • One year accreditation term
  • Designed for organizations that are required by state regulations to achieve accreditation prior to providing services.
  • Assess only organizational systems, not practices
  • Focuses on developing systems related to Basic Assurances® that are not yet present
Learn More

Quality Assurances Accreditation

  • Intended for organizations that are new to CQL Accreditation, the use of CQL tools, have experienced significant change, or want to reinvigorate their quality framework
  • 3-year accreditation term
  • 2 on-site visits
  • Alignment with Shared Values® and applicable Basic Assurances®
  • Commitment to implementation of CQL’s Personal Outcome Measures®
Learn More

Person-Centered Excellence Accreditation

  • Intended for organizations currently engaged in CQL Accreditation and the use of CQL tools
  • 4-year accreditation term
  • 1 on-site visit
  • 2 off-site visits
  • Alignment with Shared Values® and applicable Basic Assurances®
  • Commitment to implementation of CQL’s Personal Outcome Measures®
  • Implementation of an organizational What Really Matters Plan, which can influence an organizational strategic plan
Learn More

Person-Centered Excellence Accreditation | With Distinction

  • Intended for organizations with an integrated quality management system that incorporates reliable Personal Outcome Measures® data
  • 4-year accreditation term
  • 1 on-site visit
  • 2 off-site visits
  • Alignment with Shared Values® and applicable Basic Assurances®
  • Commitment to implementation of CQL’s Personal Outcome Measures®
  • Implementation of an organizational What Really Matters Plan
  • Collection of reliable data via currently CQL Certified Interviewers
Learn More


Next Step Towards Accreditation

To begin the process towards CQL Accreditation all organizations - whether currently accredited or applying for the first time - need to fill out and submit the Request For Engagement (RFE) form along with the engagement fee. This form is used by CQL for accreditation planning purposes, and includes information about your agency's administration, operations, services, and more. You can click on the link below to download the form, and then send the completed form to RFE@thecouncil.org.



Contact Us

While accreditation can appear like an arduous undertaking, it is an investment in the future of your organization and the lives of the people you support. CQL is here to help. Please do not hesitate to reach out with your questions and concerns. CQL staff are happy to provide more detailed information about the accreditation process.

Mail Image/Icon   accreditation@thecouncil.org

Phone Image/Icon   410.583.0060