WORKTEC, Clayton Center renew accreditation

By Trina Trice

Two of Clayton County's social services organizations have received renewal of their three-year-accreditation from a national commission.

WORKTEC and Clayton Center Behavioral Health Services sought renewal from CARF, the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, to ensure the services offered are top notch and provide consumers with the highest level of care, said Judi Peterson, public affairs coordinator for both centers.

This is the seventh consecutive three-year accreditation WORKTEC has earned in its 25 years of operation. The organization serves more than 800 consumers annually.

Accreditation is required when contracting with the state, said Dorothy Cochran, WORKTEC executive director.

The Clayton County school system is WORKTEC's financial agent, handling the personnel and administration issues, Cochran said. There may have been some concern by the WORKTEC community about the school system losing its accreditation, but Cochran wants to assure her staff that only CARF accredits the organization.

"We are extremely pleased to receive the official stamp of approval for our employment services through CARF," Cochran said. "We're doing everything we need to do. Our funding is based on CARF accreditation. Our accreditation is not dependent on SACS, but obviously we'd want to be affiliated with an accredited school system."

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accredits more than 13,000 schools in the Southeast. It recently placed the Clayton County school system on probation due to the misconduct of school board leadership.

WORKTEC and Clayton Center often work together to assist community residents who have developmental disabilities, mental health and substance abuse issues n often coordinating services for those individuals who are able to work despite personal challenges.

Lavern Hill, 46, has been with WORKTEC since February. The former day care worker and mother of two teen-agers wanted a change.

"I'd always worked in day care," she said. "I wanted to do something different. I just knew that I wanted to learn (something) in a different area. (WORKTEC) has been a breath of fresh air. It let's you know your potential, it really brings it out."

WORKTEC consumers come from Clayton, Henry, Fayette and South Fulton counties, receiving assessment, evaluation, and job placement services. Consumers are also trained to perform certain job, such as how to work in a fast food restaurant or in the retail industry, said Pam Glover, field instructor at WORKTEC.

"I teach them how to do the job," she said. "Our (consumers) can do any job. There's nothing they can't do and nothing they can't be taught."

WORKTEC consumers go on to be porters and oil technicians for local car dealerships and work in lawn care or local retail food or clothing stores.

So far, Hill enjoys working with correlating book packages, she said.

"There's not another place like this," Hill said. "I have cerebral palsy and other people have different (disabilities). It shows us we can do things, but we have to do it differently. A lot of us, we help each other."

Clayton Center offers individual and group counseling, respite care, therapeutic foster care and intensive family intervention.

CARF sent two representatives to WORKTEC and five to Clayton Center for several days to interview staff members, consumers, referral agencies, and community employers in the case of WORKTEC.

The reps also reviewed policies and procedures and observed each center's programs and services in action.

WORKTEC sought accreditation in employment services, specifically comprehensive vocational evaluation, employee development, employment skills training and community employment services.

WORKTEC earned the highest rating possible, one of "no recommendations" achieved by only 3 percent of organizations that seek CARF accreditation.

Clayton Center sought accreditation from CARF for 29 of its services offered in adult mental health, adult substance abuse, child and adolescent mental health, and developmental services.

Clayton Center opened in 1971 to serve residents of Clayton County, and first received CARF accreditation in 1996. This year's surveyors complimented the Center in a variety of areas including: the dedication of staff members, professionalism of management, and the quality of services offer to the community.

"We are all so pleased to have our programs, and WORKTEC, recognized for the quality services we provide," said Jimmy Wiggins, Clayton Center executive director. "Our staff was commended for the genuine care given to people receiving services and we're proud to have this certification."

CARF is a private organization that promotes quality rehabilitation services by "establishing standards for organizations to use as guidelines in developing and offering programs or services to consumers," according to the CARF official Web site.