Parks Accreditation SealBoasting more than 50 parks and recreational areas, golf courses, pools and beaches, a first-rate civic community center, an 80-year-old amusement park and boardwalk, and an interpretive working farm, Westchester’s parks department once again earned in 2008 the distinction of being accredited by the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA).

Prestigious honor
This national accreditation by the NRPA is the highest honor that can be bestowed on a parks system and sets it apart from thousands of other parks systems throughout the nation. This continuing accreditation is an honor for the Parks team.

Westchester’s parks system was the first county in New York State to receive this distinction when it received accreditation the first time in 2003. It is only one of three agencies in the state to become accredited. Nationally, the parks system is a member of an elite group of 71 agencies that have been accredited since the program was introduced by NRPA in 1994.

The goal of the national accreditation program is to create a system of standards that allows parks and recreation agencies to compare their practices to what is considered a professional model, to measure their delivery of recreational services and to identify their effectiveness and efficiency in meeting the interests and needs of their constituents. Once accredited, an agency is expected to maintain these high standards and continue to improve on them over the next five years when it must apply for accreditation once again.

In 2007, an application for re-accreditation was submitted to the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA), which comprises representatives from NRPA, the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration, and the National Association of County Park and Recreation Officials.

Once the application was accepted, a special committee of administrative and field staff was appointed to conduct the comprehensive self-assessment report. During a rigorous one-year process, the committee conducted an extensive review of parks systems in which they had to provide updated documentation fulfilling at least 36 of 155 fundamental standards, and at least 85 percent of the other 119 compliance standards in ten major categories: Agency Authority, Role and Responsibility; Planning; Organization and Administration; Human Resources; Finance; Program and Services Management; Facility and Land Use Management; Safety & Security; Risk Management; and Evaluation and Research.

The self-assessment report was presented to CAPRA for a preliminary review in April 2007, and was followed up in June by a team of certified park and recreation professionals and experienced citizen board members from all over the country. During their week-long visit, they reviewed all of the documentation that had been submitted to meet each of the standards, met and talked with parks staff, and toured parks.

Read the self-assessment report.