Private Organization Accreditation

Catholic Charities alleviates human suffering and improves the quality of life of 100,000 people annually, regardless of religious background. A staff of 600 provides support and services related to housing, food, mental health, children's services, addiction treatment, and domestic violence services.


Holy Family Institute

Sister Linda Yankoski, President/CEO

The Council On Accreditation provides all stakeholders involved in the delivery of social services the assurance that the organization is credible, effective, and is committed to quality improvement. The COA process is an important tool for anyone involved in leading an organization to establish best practices and maintaining and updating these practices over time.
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Youth who participate in Wilderness and Adventure-based Therapeutic Outdoor Services expand individual capabilities, develop self-confidence and insight, ameliorate symptoms, and improve interpersonal skills and relationships.


Wilderness and Adventure-Based Therapeutic Outdoor Services are day or residential programs that provide an intensive, therapeutic experience based on outdoor, educational, clinical, and other activities that involve physical and psychological challenges.

Interpretation: PA-WT Standards do not apply to day or summer camps that do not have a strong therapeutic focus.

Research Note: A nationwide survey of 86 outdoor behavioral healthcare programs in 2000 identified four common program models for therapeutic outdoor services. They range from contained expeditions, in which the leaders, clinicians, and clients remain together in the wilderness for a given period of time, to residential expedition programs, which use wilderness expeditions to supplement other services such as residential treatment centers. The length of these outdoor behavioral healthcare programs varies depending on the program model and on average can range anywhere from 30 to 300 days; with 16 to 70 of those days taking place on the wilderness expedition.

Note: An agency that uses wilderness experiences to supplement another accredited service may be required to complete the Experiential Education Supplement (PA-EES) in addition to its assigned service standards. See the EES Activities Table - Private, Public, Canadian to determine which activities require the supplement. These agencies are not required to complete WT.

Note: An agency that provides any activities listed in PA-WT 15 must be certified by a nationally recognized authority in the specific activity to achieve COA accreditation.

Note: Please see PA-WT Reference List for a list of resources that informed the development of these standards.

Wilderness and Adventure-Based Therapeutic Outdoor Services Narrative

Self-Study Evidence
    • Provide an overview of the different programs being accredited under this section. The overview should describe:
      1. the program's service philosophy and approach to delivering services;
      2. eligibility criteria;
      3. any unique or special services provided to specific populations; and
      4. major funding streams.
    • If elements of the service (e.g., assessments) are provided by contract with outside programs or through participation in a formal, coordinated service delivery system, provide a list that identifies the providers and the service components for which they are responsible. Do not include services provided by referral.
    • Provide any other information you would like the peer review team to know about these programs.
    • A demographic profile of persons and families served by the programs being reviewed under this service section with percentages representing the following:
      1. racial and ethnic characteristics;
      2. gender/gender identity;
      3. age;
      4. major religious groups; and
      5. major language groups
    • As applicable, a list of groups or classes including, for each group or class:
      1. the type of activity/group;
      2. whether the activity/group is short-term or ongoing;
      3. how often the activity/group is offered;
      4. the average number of participants per session of the activity/group, in the last month; and
      5. the total number of participants in the activity/group, in the last month
    • A list of any programs that were opened, merged with other programs or services, or closed
    • A list or description of program outcomes and outputs being measured
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