Monday, January 26th, 2009
By Shelley Grieshop
Special needs agency receives high marks
  A local agency that helps people of all ages with disabilities has received the highest accreditation possible from the state.
The Mercer County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (MR/DD) recently netted a five-year accreditation from the Ohio MR/DD department for overall excellence in operations. The local agency will not undergo an accreditation again for another five years.
The local MR/DD board oversees the operation of Cheryl Ann programs and provides the following adult services: job and housing, life skills and social programs, day services, workshop and transportation. The agency also offers a wide variety of services for infants and toddlers.
"The local staff had a good feeling about the accreditation process once they had been visited by the state's review team," said Mike Overman, superintendent of the Cheryl Ann program.
The local agency was evaluated on-site Aug. 20 and 21 and later given an overall rating of 438 out of 448 points - the best accreditation report the county MR/DD program has ever received.
The state requires each county program to undergo the accreditation process; approximately 15 to 24 county MR/DD agencies are evaluated annually, state officials told The Daily Standard. Counties receive a one- to five-year accreditation based on their overall performance.
Any citations received by individual counties must be addressed and corrected by the local agencies with a follow-up approval by the state. In dire situations, MR/DD boards receive no accreditation at all and risk program and/or license suspensions.
In the most recent accreditation review, Mercer County MR/DD received several minor citations for partial noncompliance in the following fields: personnel, behavior support, unusual incidents and investigation protocol. All were corrected and satisfied, according to state documents.
The agencies' adult day services program received high marks: "The county board has made a strong commitment to the employment needs of the individuals they serve" and goes "beyond typical employment programs." The agency excels in "building positive relationship with the local businesses," the review stated.
Concerning the early intervention program, which aids children with disabilities, the state had this to say: "The county board has taken a number of steps to ensure that children are healthy and safe in their homes and their communities."
Overman said the state did an in-depth evaluation that included interviews with staff members and client families and visits to each program and the job site where clients work. One member of the evaluation team even rode one of the agency's buses to see how staff members interact with clients.
Overman credited his staff for the good evaluation.
"We all work together," Overman said. "Our board is committed to the program. We have an outstanding staff made up of people who really take their roles seriously."
Auglaize County MR/DD had its last accreditation review in October 2006 and subsequently received a three-year rating. The agency was cited for less than a dozen minor issues including staff training, investigation procedures, training, individual service needs and transportation safety.
The board and Superintendent Al Willis satisfied the citations in the time allowed, documents state.
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