What is AIRS Accreditation?
AIRS Accreditation assesses the ability of an I&R program to demonstrate full compliance with the AIRS Standards for Professional Information and Referral. It is the primary quality assurance mechanism for affirming I&R excellence.
Accreditation is a multi-phase process that assesses more than 200 distinct operational components and culminates in a detailed onsite review. The Accreditation criteria reflects the latest edition of the AIRS Standards. It includes a comprehensive review of the agency’s resource database and a “secret shopper” monitoring of the agency’s I&R service delivery. The importance of AIRS Accreditation is endorsed by both national and state entities as a benchmark for all I&R providers. For 2-1-1 services in particular, it has been deemed an absolute requirement for funding in many states.
The cost is $6,000 for members and $9,000 for non-members, which includes all of the costs of a site visit by two reviewers.
AIRS Accreditation provides:
- An objective evidence of achievement in the areas of service quality and effectiveness, community involvement and organizational stability
- Demonstrated commitment on the part of your leadership to meeting the highest standards in the field
- Enhanced credibility in the eyes of the public and your other stakeholders
- A stronger position in what is emerging as a competitive field (some funders are requiring national accreditation)
- Expanded access to new markets, government funding and foundation grants
- Improved protection against legal challenges
- International recognition by your peers in the I&R sector
More than 150 organizations in the United States and Canada have successfully attained AIRS Accreditation. It is important to note that some of these agencies are relatively small (e.g. with less than 5 full-time staff). Organizational size is not a barrier!
Here is what some program directors of accredited agencies had to say concerning the process and the benefits ... Accreditation Comments
Whether an I&R program is national or local in scope, comprehensive or specialized in nature, or offered in non-profit, for-profit or government settings, AIRS Accreditation is the best way to demonstrate the overall quality and effectiveness of an I&R service. The AIRS Accreditation Program is operated in alignment with the standards developed by the Institute for Credentialing Excellence.
AIRS Accreditation involves the following stages:
- Review your operation against the AIRS Standards! An organization has 10 months from the date of their application to submit their initial documentation, so it is important not to apply until you have many of the components already in place.
- Complete and return the Application Form, along with the non-refundable application fee of $6,000 for AIRS members or $9,000 for non-members. The fee may be paid in two installments if preferred.
- The majority of the process involves a collaborative sequence of documentation and consultation. The agency works with the AIRS staff liaison to better understand the accreditation criteria and the documentation required to meet those criteria. Generally, this involves two or three submissions with each submission getting the agency closer to full compliance. (During this stage, the AIRS I&R Toolkit which hosts best practices from AIRS Accredited agencies is an excellent source of initial documentation. You also are encouraged to check-in frequently with your AIRS liaison).
- There will be a remote review of your resource database and feedback on any changes/improvements required.
- The work of your I&R Specialists will be assessed through a “secret shopper” process.
- Once the applicable documents have been supplied, reviewed and approved, along with the resource database and I&R service delivery review, a site visit is conducted to ensure the agency is truly operating in accordance with the accreditation criteria. The review also deals with any outstanding areas where requirements have yet to be conclusively proven.
- Following the site visit, a report with a recommendation from the review team is completed and submitted to the chair of the AIRS Accreditation Program for approval and a letter is sent to notify the agency of the results.