Inside Person-Centered Excellence Accreditation, With Distinction

This level of CQL Accreditation is for organizations with deeply embedded person-centered approaches and practices, using CQL’s internationally-recognized tools. It includes strict eligibility criteria, rigorous expectations involving the impact of supports on outcomes, the application of CQL Certification, and robust data collection and analysis requirements.

Accreditation Overview

  • 4-year accreditation term
  • 1 review visit (4-5 days), 2 additional mid-cycle visits
  • Full implementation of CQL tools
  • Focus on community impact
  • Emphasis on use of data analysis
  • Accreditation not decided during on-site visit

Please see FAQ section for more detailed information.

Intended For Organizations

  • Previously achieved two successful accreditation terms
  • Full alignment with partner agreement
  • Meeting additional eligibility criteria
  • Utilizing CQL Certification
  • Actively collecting and analyzing data
  • Demonstrating positive community impact

Please see FAQ section for more detailed information.

"Pursuing the 'With Distinction' designation seemed like the next logical step in our journey of person-centered supports."

Susan Arwood, Core Services of Northeast Tennessee

Person-Centered Excellence Accreditation, With Distinction Components

Planning Meetings

In the beginning stages, CQL conducts conference calls with the organization to talk through the process, expectations, tools, standards, as well as coordinate scheduling.


Prior to the on-site review, the organization completes self-assessments to evaluate its own operations, which CQL staff then validate during the accreditation.

Visits With People

To determine how policies play out in practice, we visit with people where they receive services. CQL can then gain insight into the practices of the organization.

Person-Centered Tools

CQL evaluates the organization’s use of internationally-recognized tools including Shared Values, Basic Assurances®, Personal Outcome Measures®, and Community Life®.

Focus Groups

CQL holds focus groups with people receiving services and support providers – also sometimes including families, external case managers, and other stakeholders.


To improve the accuracy and reliability of information-gathering, CQL verifies the agency’s use of CQL Certification in person-centered discovery.

Stakeholder Event

Diverse stakeholders connected to the organization participate in a vibrant planning session. They establish action steps to enhance quality in meaningful ways.

Data Collection & Analysis

CQL supports the organization in determining meaningful metrics to understand the impact of services – both at the individual and organizational level.

Ongoing Support

The accreditation doesn’t start and stop with the review visits. CQL provides resources, guidance, and collaboration throughout the entire accreditation term.

Have questions about CQL Accreditation?

Benefits of Accreditation With Distinction

This level of accreditation guides organizations in meeting the very highest standards in human services to transform supports and people's lives.

  • Reinforce person-centered approaches
  • Embed internationally-recognized tools
  • Leverage expert CQL consultation
  • Enhance an agency’s community impact
  • Align with HCBS Settings Regulations
  • Receive ongoing support for improving quality
  • Complimentary access to PORTAL Data System
  • Receive a 5% discount on POM Certification and CQL Training
  • Better utilize CQL Certification
  • Strengthen systems for quality monitoring

Accreditation With Distinction Process

While not encompassing every single step of the accreditation process, the information below provides an overview of what to expect.


Request For Engagement

The organization submits the Request for Engagement (RFE) form, at least six months before they intend to hold the review visit.



Upon the RFE review and approval, CQL works with the organization to prepare them for the accreditation process.



The organization completes a self-assessment, which CQL validates, to review how policies apply to practices.


On-Site Review

CQL Quality Enhancement Specialists conduct focus groups, location visits, individual interviews, policy evaluations, etc.


Accreditation Achievement

Within 10 days of the on-site review, a committee evaluates the designation of this level of CQL Accreditation.


Continuing Collaboration

There are regular check-ins, visits, meetings, correspondence, and more, to maintain progress in improving quality.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are expectations of the initial on-site visit?

Please review the ‘Request for Engagement’ form for a complete listing, but overall, the requirements include:

  • Completed Basic Assurances® and Shared Values self-assessments by organization
  • CQL validation of alignment with Shared Values and Basic Assurances®
  • Successful implementation of the accreditation partnership agreement
  • CQL validation of implementation of CQL Personal Outcome Measures® Certification
  • Minimum representative samples for POM interviews during the accreditation term
  • Agency-led facilitation of stakeholder group and What Really Matters plan development
  • Robust quality improvement strategies with accompanying relevant data.
  • Demonstration of organizational transformation
  • Demonstration of community impact/influence, including a Community Life® self-assessment and validation.
  • Evidence of advocacy efforts, person-centered planning and person-directed planning meetings, and innovative strategies to support people


What are expectations of the second off-site visit?

Please review the ‘Request for Engagement’ form for a complete listing, but overall, the requirements include:

  • CQL validation of implementation of recommendations from first visit and of progress made on What Really Matters plan short term goals


What are expectations of the third off-site visit?

Please review the ‘Request for Engagement’ form for a complete listing, but overall, the requirements include:

  • CQL validation of implementation of recommendations from second visit and of progress made on What Really Matters plan long-range goals
  • CQL validation of ongoing implementation and enhancement of an organizational integrated quality management system that incorporates reliable Personal Outcome Measures® data


What is the eligibility requirements for this level of accreditation?

Accreditation Status

  • Organizations must have achieved and maintained at least two terms of CQL Accreditation, one of which must be Person-Centered Excellence Accreditation
  • Organizations need to be fully compliant with CQL policy/partnership agreement

Residential/Work Settings

Organizations with campus-type settings, institutions, or large congregate residential or work settings that have not previously achieved Person-Centered Excellence Accreditation With Distinction are not eligible to apply, unless they meet the following criteria:

  • Evidence of equal access to the community for those supported, same as those without disabilities
  • Formal commitment to downsizing large congregate settings with objective metrics
  • Evidence of success in downsizing large congregate settings
  • Demonstration of person-centered planning and supports despite physical environment limitations

Additional Eligibility Criteria

  • Quality Management Plan and Organizational Strategic Plan
  • Verification of CQL Interviewer Certification, including employee names and certification dates
  • Evidence of positive organizational and individual impact on the greater community (see below)
  • Evidence of enhanced commitment to advocacy and self-advocacy efforts (see below)
  • Evidence that the agency does not have systems and practices in place that allow:
  • Use of corporal punishment, seclusion, noxious or aversive stimuli, forced exercise, and denial of food or liquids that are part of a person’s nutritionally adequate diet
  • Floor restraints, “take downs,” or standing orders for restraint
  • Use of “as needed” psychotropic medications for behavior control
  • Use of time-out rooms


How much does this level of CQL Accreditation cost?

Numerous factors influence the exact cost, including the size, scope of services, and specific needs of an organization. This accreditation level also requires an additional on-site day for the accreditation team to ensure a thorough review. The organization pursuing CQL Accreditation with Distinction is responsible for the additional staff and travel/lodging costs associated with this additional day. To assist in your budgetary planning, a general estimate for this type of accreditation is around $28,500. While pricing will vary, this offers a baseline cost that you can use in your decision-making.

Accreditation Videos

Our videos and webinars provides an in-depth look at how CQL Accreditation drives holistic, continuous transformation for organizations.