FOCUS Accreditation Announces Four Year Re-Accreditation for The Participation House Project (Durham Region).

Media Release – For Immediate Release

Date:  May 3, 2023

Whitby, ON
–FOCUS Accreditation is pleased to announce that The Participation House Project (Durham Region) has been successful in its bid to be re-accredited by FOCUS Accreditation for four years from May 2023 – May 2027. In addition, the organization has received a Seal of Sustainability Award. This award recognizes organizations who have been accredited for three or more cycles and for their commitment to ongoing quality improvement.

The Participation House Project (Durham Region) – PH is a non-profit organization developing and providing a range of services for youth and adults with physical and developmental disabilities throughout Durham Region for more than 40 years. The Participation House Project (Durham Region) received its first accreditation in 2012 using the 2010 FOCUS standards and its second accreditation in 2016 using the 2014 FOCUS Accreditation Standards. This is the organization’s third FOCUS Accreditation validation.

FOCUS Accreditation looks at all aspects of how an organization provides services – from how people are supported to the effectiveness of the operations.  FOCUS Accreditation sent a team of six people to review The Participation House Project (Durham Region’s) services, over a period of eight days (February 21, 22, 23, 24, 27, 28 March 1 and 2). The team assessed how operations were in effect, services were provided, reviewed data, and collected input from various people who have a stake in the services being provided.  Input was sought from a total of 104 individuals via virtual interviews and e-surveys. The overall response rate increased by 73% compared to PH’s last validation.

Many strengths were identified at The Participation House Project (Durham Region) by the FOCUS Validators:

  • PH promotes open, respectful, and constructive communication and collaboration within the organization.
  • PH maintains a culture of providing choice and flexibility in service planning and delivery wherever possible.

Community Partners:

  • PH leads the province in the operation and delivery of innovative services and supports to individuals with disabilities and their families. It plays a large role as a regional and provincial convener, who helps drive the policy agenda for the sector and helps other organizations share information and best practices. PH provides innovative service models, such as its Supported Independent Living Program, Community Activation Program, and Upskills Learning Continuum. PH also has a productive working relationship with local post-secondary institutions to help attract and retain the workforce it needs.


  • I believe that PH has and continues to work hard to ensure that quality improvement is a daily practice within the organization. With this in mind, we strive to ensure that all areas continue to get better and advance as needs change.


  • Would be great if every family with a special needs person had an option like PH.

Service Recipients:

  • I have rights and Participation House listens to what I have to say.

Cheryl Whiteman, FOCUS Executive Director comments, “The Participation House Project (Durham Region) has successfully achieved its third FOCUS Accreditation Award.  Congratulations to the entire organization for its dedication to the principles and practices of Quality Improvement.  The Participation House Project (Durham Region) is described by stakeholders both internal and external to the organization as effective in its service delivery, innovative, having internal robust controls, having a strong leadership team and a front-runner when it comes to person-centered care and supporting/encouraging self-advocacy for service users.

The Participation House Project (Durham Region)

Michelle Brooks, Participation House, Executive Director “Receiving our third consecutive accreditation is a phenomenal achievement that the team at PH should pause to celebrate.  Excellence is a decision, and achieving it requires a conscious effort from all. I am so proud of our teams, volunteers, families, and people we support, who are courageous, bold, and willing to embrace a “can-do” attitude that powers change in people’s lives. Congratulations everyone and thank you for all that you do each and every day.”

About FOCUS Accreditation

FOCUS is a non-profit accreditation agency for community service organizations. Created in Ontario, Canada, by the very people who use and work in these services, FOCUS reflects the culture and expectations of community service organizations in Ontario.

FOCUS accredits the whole organization, not just select programs within.  The standards reflect best practice in the way services are provided as well as the effectiveness of how the organization operates.  An organization that meets FOCUS’ standards can be viewed as an organization that focuses on the people it serves, and on high quality service delivery.  FOCUS has accredited over 50 organizations and works with over 50 community-based groups.  A full list of accredited organizations is on our website

Contact:  Cheryl Whiteman, Executive Director

FOCUS Accreditation: 1-866-805-2600 ext. 21