By Barb Brouwer – Salmon Arm Observer Published: February 18, 2012 6:00 AM

They’re the tops and it shows.

Shuswap Association For Community Living (SACL) has just received a three-year accreditation that allows them to continue to provide top-notch opportunities for people with developmental disabilities.

Accreditation came from CARF International, an independent, non-profit accrediting body whose mission is to promote the quality, value, and services in order to best enhance clients’ lives.

A three-year accreditation is the longest available and reflects on SACL’s performance in providing community integration, respite services, supported living and for its community employment services – job development, job supports and job-site training programs.

“An organization receiving a three-year accreditation has put itself through a rigorous peer review process,” says SACL executive-director Jo-Anne Crawford.

Located on 10th Avenue SW, SACL has been providing services to persons with intellectual and diverse disabilities in the Shuswap since 1963.

Founded in 1966 as the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, and now known as CARF International, the accrediting body establishes consumer-focused standards to help organizations measure and improve the quality of their programs and services.

“We’re required to be accredited in order to get contracts with Community Living BC,” says Crawford, noting the numerous standards to be met are contained in a huge manual. “They also look at everything we do, that we are actually achieving outcomes of service, not squandering the money.”

The CARF team went over SACL with a fine-tooth comb in November and their recommendations at the end of the two and a half days, were to add more detail to their risk-management plan.

“Basically, they’re saying ‘we believe you offer an excellent service,’” says Crawford. “That’s  why we are accredited for three years, but we want you to show us with more paperwork – detailed written proof that we’re meeting required standards.”

Thrilled with the accreditation, Crawford says she has heard Community Living BC staff have said SACL’s employment program could be a model for the province.”

“And that’s a credit to this community’s employers.”

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Shuswap Association for Community Living clients James Spada, Diane Saint and Janice Hildebrandt shred papers at the SACL facility on 10th St. SW.

James Murray/Observer