Photo by Heather Middleton
By Curt Yeomans
Clayton County Parks and Recreation Department officials are hoping to create a new source of pride for the county by seeking national acknowledgment that it is performing "best business practices," according to the head of the department.
A three-member accreditation review team from the Commission for Accreditation of Parks and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA) spent this week in Clayton County, to conduct a review of the department, said Detrick Stanford, the director of the county's recreation department. He explained the department is seeking accreditation from the national group.
The director said no county-wide parks and recreation department in Georgia has received accreditation from the group before.
"We're sitting, as we speak, before an accreditation board that's called CAPRA, The Commission of Accredited Parks and Recreation Agencies," Stanford said. "Technically, what happens is we'll be the first county municipality in the state of Georgia to become an accredited parks and recreation department."
Stanford said he expects to find out in November whether the department received CAPRA accreditation. The review team wrapped up its visit to the county on Thursday, he added.
Although no county parks and recreation department in Georgia is currently accredited by CAPRA, the group's web site shows there are five city-level accredited departments in the state, including the cities of Alpharetta, Atlanta, Carrollton, Gainesville and Roswell. Alpharetta has been accredited the longest, since 1999, and Atlanta became the newest department to receive accreditation, in 2009, the web site shows.
CAPRA also reports that parks and recreation departments in Dawson County and the City of Woodstock are also seeking accreditation at this time.
The list of standards local parks and recreation departments must meet to receive accreditation is lengthy. There are 144 standards that CAPRA sets for departments to meet, according to Stanford. "You must meet 85 percent of those 144 standards to become accredited," he said.
Those standards cover a wide range of areas, including authorities and responsibility, planning, administration, human resources, financial management, programs and services management, facility and land use management, public safety and security, risk management, and evaluation and research, according to a copy of CAPRA's National Accreditation Standards booklet.
"It first talks about best practices in Parks and Recreation," Stanford said. "That's one of the main reasons why we're going after it. It also becomes a sense of community pride.
"Our community can hang its hats on ... being the first [Georgia county to receive accreditation], as well as tell our citizens that we have reached benchmarks, and best practices, as it relates to facilitation of parks and recreation departments throughout the country."