The purpose of the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems (AIRS) Accreditation process is to determine the extent to which applicant Information and Referral (I&R) organizations comply with expected practices within the field as defined by the AIRS Standards for Professional Information and Referral.
Accreditation is a process that includes: a Remote Database Review to ensure that the resource database meets minimum requirements, a Consultation Component during which the I&R service completes and submits required documentation in consultation with a liaison assigned by AIRS; and the On-Site Review during which a review team is able to see the agency in operation and verify that its practices are consistent with the accreditation criteria. Prior to the site visit, the call handling component of the agency’s service is evaluated through a Secret Shopper process.
All transactions between AIRS (including members of the site visit team and Accreditation contractors) and the applicant agency, and all materials submitted by the agency, are confidential. The only information that will be shared with other organizations and government agencies making an inquiry is information for which the applicant agency has provided written authorization for AIRS to share. The process for re-accreditation is the same as outlined above.
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
Many 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.
AIRS Accreditation involves the following stages:
- 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.
- Review your operation against the AIRS Standards! An organization has 10 months from the date of their application to submit their initial documentation and have their database reviewed, so it is important not to apply until you have many of the components already in place.
- 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. You 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 prior to the site visit.
- Once the applicable documents have been supplied, reviewed and approved, along with the resource database 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 Commission for approval and a letter is sent to notify the agency of the results.
For more information about the accreditation process contact Charlene Hipes at firstname.lastname@example.org or (503) 257- 3537; or the Accreditation Support Community on the AIRS Networker at http://airsnetworker.airs.org. This Accreditation Support Community is for organizations considering applying for AIRS Accreditation, for those considering renewing their Accreditation and those currently in the process. This is a place to post questions to the group and AIRS staff.