Press Release – December 14, 2020
District earns third-straight accreditation after comprehensive review process
AURORA – The Fox Valley 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.”
FVPD earned accredited status in 2008 and 2014, before submitting its application for this latest evaluation period in March of 2019. Prior to earning a third accreditation, the FVPD underwent a detailed, lengthy process of application and evaluation in the areas of General Management, Legal, Finance, Facilities and Parks, Personnel and Recreation. Once the Joint Distinguished Park and Recreation Accreditation Committee (JDPRAC) – comprised of representatives from the IAPD and IPRA – deemed the FVPD’s application eligible to continue the process, an evaluation date was set. On the day of evaluation, FVPD officials presented the joint committee documentation and gave a tour of pertinent facilities and parks for the evaluation team’s review.
“It’s the right thing to do, particularly for this agency,” said FVPD Executive Director Jim Pilmer of the application/accreditation process. “You pick up every corner of every piece of paper in this entire district and read the policy, update it and make it relevant. As organized as it is, there are strict standards and policies that the Fox Valley Park District does – and should do – but when you tie it all back together to the distinguished agency accreditation, now it’s the evidence, the supporting material for what you do.”
The JDPRAC approved the FVPD for Distinguished Accredited status in late November and highlighted the District’s areas of excellence in delineated, comprehensive goals; thorough Chain of Authority; excellent Marketing Procedures and Overall Volunteer information; comprehensive Board Manual; impressive Community Sponsorship Program; and “great use of advisory committees,” among others.
“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.”
In compliance with the program, the FVPD will be reevaluated in five years to verify that it has continued to demonstrate sound management practices in providing quality park and recreation services to the community.
“Receiving accreditation puts the ‘why’ in a process or policy,” Pilmer said. “The industry we’re in is recreation, so why not get the very best certificate of distinction of doing things the way they should be done.
“It’s a total, thorough audit for all reasons to be in existence, and it’s an authenticity of the best practices and procedures for our industry. We just don’t say we’re a park district – this is an affirmation to that authenticity, in that there’s financial practices, operational practices, legal practices … that show we’re responsible stewards of public resources.”
The FVPD, along with other agencies that have achieved Distinguished Accredited status, will be recognized during the IAPD/IPRA Annual Conference in January.