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CHI Friendship Receives 2019 CQL Award of Excellence

CHI Friendship has been honored with a 2019 Award of Excellence by CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership, for their commitment to reinstating rights for people receiving their services. CHI Friendship utilizes creative and innovative approaches to eliminate and reduce restrictions, resulting in a 36% decrease in rights restrictions from people’s plans.

“We congratulate everyone from CHI Friendship for receiving this prestigious accolade.” says Mary Kay Rizzolo, President and CEO of CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership. “They have devoted significant time, energy, and resources to promoting the rights of those they support, and we’re proud to be able to recognize them for their work.”

In 2015, CHI Friendship began their initiative to reinstate rights by gathering information about the most common types of restrictions, assessing the barriers to restoring rights, and discussing potential approaches to reduce or remove restrictions. They discovered a total of 691 rights restrictions in place when this initiative started. Since then, CHI Friendship has worked to implement organization-wide changes to advance the rights for those receiving services in a variety of ways.

CHI Friendship has developed a strong relationship with the Human Rights Committee, providing guidance about rights, improving accessibility of meetings and materials, and encouraging people supported to present their restrictions. To help restore rights, whenever there is a rights restriction, Case Managers are required to develop a restoration plan for that right. CHI Friendship has seen over and over the impact rights restoration, whether big or small, has on the lives of people with disabilities. Rights restoration increases a person’s self-esteem and independence, while providing opportunities for a more meaningful life. In confronting financial rights restrictions, CHI Friendship has produced more than 20 individualized templates to accommodate different learning styles, so that people can become better informed about their personal budget. These templates have been incorporated into the plans of 90% of people receiving services.

As a way to advance education and training about rights, CHI Friendship also developed numerous resources such as rights assessments, priority rights audits, various consent releases, a voting guide, and more. These efforts are all grounded in data that CHI Friendship collects and evaluates to assess both organizational and individual trends involving rights. The culmination of all this work is the removal or reduction of more than 250 rights restrictions from people’s plans.

“We aligned our strategic plans to allow for innovation and solutions versus barriers and restrictions. One of our greatest priorities will remain, to give people more empowerment and control over their life,” says Dori Leslie, President of CHI Friendship.

The CQL Awards of Excellence recognize individuals, organizations, and/or systems that exemplify the very best in human services for people with disabilities. The 2019 award recipients were selected among dozens of submissions by entities that have achieved CQL Accreditation and/or CQL Certification. Since the CQL Awards of Excellence was first established in 2015, there have been only 10 recipients of this international designation.

CHI Friendship previously received a CQL Award of Excellence in 2015, for their effectiveness in advancing community-based employment for people in North Dakota.


Since 1969, CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership has been a leader in working with human service organizations and systems to continuously define, measure, and improve quality of life and quality of services for youth, adults, and older adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and psychiatric disabilities. CQL offers accreditation, training, certification, research, and consultation services to agencies that share our vision of dignity, opportunity, and community for all people.