Schaumburg Park District has been recognized for the third time as an Illinois Distinguished Accredited Agency by the Illinois Association of Park Districts (IAPD) and the Illinois Park and Recreation Association (IPRA). The District previously received Distinguished Accredited Agency status in 2009 and 2015.
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 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 Barry Franks, IPRA Interim 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 Jeff Rigoni, 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 Rigoni, 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 Bill McAdam, 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.”
Schaumburg Park District applied for the Illinois Distinguished Accreditation program this past June.
The JDPRAC approved the Schaumburg Park District for Distinguished Accredited status in November and highlighted the District’s excellent planning and goal setting, administrative practices and emergency preparedness.
“Quality parks and recreation services benefit communities in a number of ways, and Schaumburg Park District prides itself on providing outstanding opportunities to our residents,” said Tony LaFrenere, Executive Director. “Given the operational challenges brought on by the pandemic, receiving Distinguished Accredited status is especially meaningful to our board and staff members who work hard year-round to be worthy of this distinction.”
In compliance with the program, Schaumburg Park District will be reevaluated 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.