The Deerfield Park District has been recognized as an Illinois Distinguished Accredited Agency by the Illinois Association of Park Districts (IAPD) and the Illinois Park and Recreation Association (IPRA).
The two statewide associations administer the Illinois Distinguished Accreditation program with the goal of improving the delivery of park and recreation services to Illinois residents. “Illinois has a reputation for the best park districts, forest preserves, conservation, recreation and special recreation agencies in the nation,” said Peter Murphy, IAPD President and CEO. “The Illinois Distinguished Accreditation program provides an opportunity for these agencies to undergo a voluntary, comprehensive evaluation process to demonstrate that they have met state guidelines to provide exceptional park and recreation services to their community. The end result is to improve the quality of life for Illinois residents.”
“This program gives recognition to park and recreation agencies that go above and beyond in dedicating themselves to offering quality programs and services designed to fulfill their community’s needs,” said Debbie Trueblood, IPRA Executive Director.
A park district or recreation agency interested in applying for Distinguished Accredited Agency recognition undergoes a detailed, lengthy process of application and evaluation. A Joint Distinguished Park and Recreation Accreditation Committee (JDPRAC) comprised of members from IAPD and IPRA coordinates the process. “Agencies submit a self-evaluation and a formal letter requesting admission into the process,” said Bob Schmidt, IAPD Co-Chair of the JDPRAC. “If the committee determines the agency is eligible to continue the process, we send them an evaluation date.”
According to Schmidt, on the day of the evaluation, the agency presents documented information and gives a tour of pertinent facilities and parks for the evaluation team’s review.
The team reviews general management procedures, finance and business operations, facilities and parks, personnel, recreation services, legal documentation and other materials including mission statements, goals, and safety manuals.
Upon completion of the evaluation, the agency is notified in writing of the official results within ten days. Agencies that have achieved Distinguished Accredited status are recognized during the IAPD/IPRA Annual Conference in January.
“There are tremendous benefits for an agency that achieves Distinguished Accredited status,” said Mike Clark, IPRA Co-Chair of the JDPRAC. “The agency’s application and review process is an excellent self-evaluation and agencies that apply realize increased operational efficiency and effectiveness. Communities can have confidence that their park district or recreation agency employs qualified professionals and has met professional standards.”
The Deerfield Park District applied for the Illinois Distinguished Accreditation program in March 2019. Jeff Nehila, Executive Director of the Deerfield Park District shares “The Distinguished Accredited Program provides a set of standards that are unmatched at any state level in the nation. The Deerfield Park District’s ability to receive this recognition provides us with the assurance that we are doing everything we can to meet the needs of the community and will provide outstanding guidance in areas we look to add services and amenities.”
The JDPRAC approved the Deerfield Park District for Distinguished Accredited status in November 2020 and highlighted local government cooperation and Intergovernmental Agreements and shared services.
In compliance with the program, the Deerfield Park District will be re-evaluated in six years to verify that they have continued to demonstrate sound management practices in providing quality park and recreation services to the community.
IAPD is a non-profit service, research and education organization that serves park districts, forest preserves, conservation, and recreation agencies. The association advances these agencies, their citizen board members and professional staff in their ability to provide outstanding park and recreation opportunities, preserve natural resources and improve the quality of life for all people in Illinois.
Established in 1944, IPRA’s mission is to provide and promote exceptional standards of education, networking, and resources for all professionals in the Illinois park, recreation, and conservation communities.