Get answers to the most frequently asked questions around the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA) process in the sections below.


  • Open or CloseGeneral

    Q: What is CAPRA?

    A: The Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA) is the only national accreditation body for park and recreation organizations and the accreditation is a valuable measure of an organization’s overall quality of operation, management, and service to the community. It serves as the foundation for a comprehensive management system of operational best practices. Achieving CAPRA accreditation is the best way to demonstrate that your organization and your staff provide your community with the highest level of service.


    Q: Who is eligible to apply?

    A: Accreditation is open to organizations that can meet the minimum required standards and pay the required fees.


    Q: What are the steps in the process?

    A: The CAPRA Accreditation Process includes 6 steps: (1) Submit Preliminary Application and Fee; (2) attend online Prepare for CAPRA Accreditation training series; (3) develop Self-Assessment report; (4) present Self-Assessment Report to CAPRA Review Team (CRT) for initial review; (5) host CAPRA Review Team members for onsite or virtual visitation; and (6) attend Official CAPRA Hearing in person or virtually at the NRPA Annual Conference.


    Q: How much does CAPRA cost?

    A: Fees are based on the population served by your organization — the current fee schedule can be found on page 26 of the CAPRA Policies and Procedures Manual.  


    Q: Where can I find more resources to assist me?


    • Consider joining the NRPA Connect CAPRA Accreditation group to connect with organizations and volunteers who have participated in accreditation OR are considering accreditation for their organization. This is a great resource for personal experiences from other organizations and volunteers about the CAPRA accreditation process.


    Q: What is the CAPRA Commission?

    A: The CAPRA Commission is a 15-member board composed of representatives from the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA); the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA); the International City/Council Management Association (ICMA); the Council of State Executive Directors (CSED); The Academy of Leisure Sciences (TALS); the National Association of County Park and Recreation Officials (NACPRO); and the Armed Forces Recreation Network (AFRN).

    The Commission is administratively sponsored by the National Recreation and Park Association but acts with independence and under its own authority in determining accreditation standards and conferring accreditation of applicant organizations.


    Q: How many organizations are CAPRA-Accredited?

    A: As of fall 2022, there are a total of 193 accredited organizations from 38 states across the country.

  • Open or CloseCAPRA Training

    Q: What training is offered and in what format?

    A: CAPRA training is available online through the Prepare for CAPRA Accreditation series

    Review Season Trainings provide practical guidance to volunteers on serving as a CAPRA Review Team (CRT) Advisor, Lead, or Member; or CAPRA Mentor. Review Season Trainings are also available for organizations in preparation for in-person or virtual visits. CAPRA Community Trainings may be added throughout the year and a select number of CAPRA specific sessions will be offered annually at the NRPA Conference.


    Q: What should I expect to learn during the general training?

    A: This training will cover a general overview of CAPRA and the accreditation process; the 10 sections of the CAPRA National Accreditation Standards; guidelines for creating your self-assessment report and collecting your evidence of compliance; responsibilities of CAPRA Review Team (CRT) members; things to expect with your organization’s site or virtual visit; ways to get involved in CAPRA; and a list of resources to help you along the way.


    Q: How often should my agency complete training?

    A: All organizations should complete the general training at least every 2 years to stay in compliance and educated on program changes.

  • Open or CloseCAPRA Volunteers

    Q: How do I get involved as a CAPRA Volunteer?

    A:  Volunteers must meet the following criteria: 

    1. Be currently employed full time in the field of recreation, park resources and leisure services (or retired from the field);
    2. Have completed 5 years of full-time professional experience in the field;
    3. Hold and maintain CPRP or CPRE certification; and
    4. Be a member of NRPA or a related professional organization

    All active volunteers receive free access to current online, on demand CAPRA training sessions and future updates to those trainings (access available when application processed).

    Individuals meeting the criteria may apply by submitting the volunteer application form.

    More details can be found here:


    Q: What types of volunteer positions are available?

    A: CAPRA Volunteer opportunities include: CAPRA Review Team (CRT) Advisor(supports review team), CAPRA Review Team  member (conduct review of self-assessment and related visit); or Organization Mentor (provide guidance to organizations completing the process).


  • Open or CloseProcess Details

    Q: How long does this process take?

    A: New Organizations have 2 years from the date of their application to schedule their site or virtual visit – their hearing will take place the same year as the visit.  Organizations also must complete the Prepare for CAPRA Accreditation training within that 2-year period.


    Q: What is the timeline for this process?

    A: That depends on when you decide to have your visit given the 2-year deadline but on average most organizations can complete this process in 2 to 3 years.  It is recommended that organizations start becoming familiar with the standards and start thinking about how teams should be created for each of the 10 sections in advance of submitting their application.


    Q: Can my organization request a mentor?

    A: Yes!  All new organizations are automatically assigned a mentor once their preliminary application has been received and processed and reaccrediting organizations are assigned a mentor based on their visit year.  Mentors are assigned by based on region and size of the organization.


    Q: What happens if my visit is not approved?

    A: In the event your visit is NOT approved, your CAPRA Review Team (CRT) will provide you with notes on areas for improvement and you will be provided with the option to apply for an extension to the following year.


    Q: How are our CAPRA Review Team members determined?

    A: The CAPRA Accreditation Manager (CAM) in conjunction with the Commission Executive Committee make volunteer assignments based on their level of CAPRA experience and work experience with a comparable sized organization to the one being reviewed. 

    More details on this can be found on page 47 of the CAPRA Policies and Procedures Manual


    Q: How do we provide our availability for a visit?

    A: All new and reaccrediting organizations will be contacted in the fall prior to their visit year to provide two 1-week options for their visits – the visit calendar is typically finalized by the end of that calendar year.


    Q: We have been accredited now what?

    A: Complete the CAPRA logo request form online: to start actively using the CAPRA logo on your materials.

    Celebrate your Accomplishment!

    This accomplishment is not something you should take lightly. You put in a lot of hard work and it is time to celebrate. Here are some suggestions on how to do that:

    • Virtual Staff Party – Your staff put in a lot of hard work to achieve accreditation. Throw a party to celebrate and thank them.
    • Virtual Community Celebration – Invite your community to celebrate with you and make them feel proud they have such an accomplished parks and recreation department at their fingertips.
    • Staff shirts – Get your logo and the CAPRA logo printed on polos or T-shirts to show off your achievement.
    • Involve Elected Officials – Ask your elected officials to help make the announcement to your community. They will be proud too!
    • Advertising – Run an ad in a local publication to announce your achievement and thank your community for their support.


    Q: How long does accreditation last?

    A: All organizations must be reaccredited every 5 years. Organizations are required to pay an annual or review fee each year and complete a comprehensive annual report to demonstrate how they are maintaining the standards. 


    Q: Once we are accredited, how do we maintain our accreditation annually?

    A: All organizations are required to pay an annual or review fee each year and complete a comprehensive annual report to demonstrate how they are maintaining the standards.

  • Open or CloseCAPRA National Accreditation Standards and Self-Assessment Report

    Q: How are the CAPRA National Accreditation Standards structured?

    A: All 154 of the CAPRA National Accreditation Standards are divided into 10 subject area categories:

    1.0 – Agency Authority, Role and Responsibility
    2.0 – Planning
    3.0 – Organization and Administration
    4.0 – Human Resources
    5.0 – Financial Management
    6.0 – Programs and Services Management
    7.0 – Facility and Land Use Management
    8.0 – Public Safety, Law Enforcement and Security
    9.0 – Risk Management
    10.0 – Evaluation, Assessment and Research


    Q: How many standards must be met for accreditation and reaccreditation?

    A: Accreditation is based on an organization’s compliance with the 154 standards for national accreditation. To achieve accreditation, an organization must comply with all 36 Fundamental Standards and 106 of the 118 Non- Fundamental Standards upon initial accreditation (90%) and 112 of the 118 Non-Fundamental Standards upon reaccreditation (95%).


    Q: How often are the CAPRA National Accreditation Standards updated?

    A: The CAPRA Commission reviews and updates the standards on an ongoing basis and all proposed changes will be shared with the CAPRA Community for public comment before they are finalized by the Commission at their end of year meeting.  Once finalized organizations must comply within one year of the changes.


    Q: When are we required to submit our self-assessment report?

    A: Organizations must finalize their self-assessment report at least 10 weeks prior to the first day of their assigned visit.


    Q: Can we use a document management system for our Evidence of Compliance (EOC)?

    A: Yes!  Organizations are encouraged to use a document management system of their choice to house their evidence of compliance related to their accreditation. If necessary,  organizations are responsible for providing log in and password information to their CRT members.


    Q: How do we provide our evidence of compliance for each standard?

    A: When using the CAPRA Application and Review Portal organizations have 3 options to include their evidence of compliance: they can embed links in the body of the text or list at the end of each narrative section for each standard OR provide a link at the end of the section for all the evidence in that section. Organizations ARE NOT to include their evidence as attachments!  More details on CAPRA’s technology tools can be found in the recorded training on the topic found in the “CAPRA Training” folder of the NRPA Connect CAPRA Community library.


    Q: Once we submit our self-assessment report what happens next?

    A: Your CRT will conduct a comprehensive review of the SA report to determine if there are appropriately constructed narratives and satisfactory EOC for the visit to take place. If your report passes this initial review, you will be approved to hold your visit. At that time, your CRT will conduct deep dive analysis of your self-assessment report that will continue through the completion of your visit.  Your CRT will produce a final visitation report at the end of your visit which will be provided to you once approved.

  • Open or CloseSite or Virtual Visits

    Q: When do visits take place?

    A: Visits are scheduled between the months of March and June every year.


    Q: How long do visits take?

    A: The length depends on the format of your visit –virtual visits take place over 5 days while in person visits typically last no more than 2 days.


    Q: Who is responsible for paying expenses for the CRT members?

    A: Organizations are responsible for paying all travel and onsite expenses for 2 CRT members in preparation for and during any in-person visits.


    Q: How much should my organization budget for onsite visit expenses?

    A: Organizations should budget between $2,500 to $5,000 for CRT expenses.


    Q: What is the purpose and objectives of the visit?

    A: The purpose of the visit is to verify and fact-find on behalf of the Commission to ensure a clear and complete picture of the degree to which the organization meets specified standards. It is the responsibility of the CRT to clarify and verify the self-assessment report, to seek additional information that may be pertinent to the Commission’s evaluation and prepare a summary report of its findings.

    The specific objectives of the visit are to:

    • Verify and clarify assertions in the self-assessment report
    • Assess organization use of the accreditation standards through observations, interviews, and facility tours
    • Report findings and recommendations to the Commission, and
    • Identify processes, practices, policies, and documents of high quality that can serve as models for consideration by other organizations.

    More details on this process can be found in the 2023 CAPRA Review Process section of the CAPRA Policies and Procedures Manual, starting on page 49.

  • Open or CloseAccreditation Hearings

    Q: What should my organization expect at our hearing?

    A: NOTE: Hearings are only required for new accreditations – reaccrediting organizations will only participate in hearings upon request. At the hearing, the Commission Chair and the CRT Advisor for the respective organization will make introductory remarks and the CRT Lead will briefly summarize the visit and comment on the major strengths and major concerns identified by the team. The organization director will be invited to share any relevant updates that have occurred since the visit; however, no new or additional documentation may be provided during the hearing. If the organization has new information or has made changes since the visit, the organization director may refer to the information in response to questions. The Commission will then open the meeting for discussion, beginning with the CRT Advisor. Following discussion, guests and observers in the room are asked to step out while the Commission takes action in executive session. In the event that a CAPRA Commissioner is also serving as a CRT Advisor for an organization under review, this information must be disclosed at the beginning of the hearing and that individual will be the last vote on their assigned Commission hearing team.


    Q: How long will we have to speak to the Commission?

    A: Organizations will have 30 minutes for their hearing.


    Q: What are the actions the Commission can take after an organization’s hearing?

    A: Grant accreditation without condition; grant accreditation with condition; defer action; deny accreditation; withdraw accreditation; or issue a warning. 

    More details on this process can be found in the Accreditation Status section of the CAPRA Policies and Procedures Manual, starting on page 63.


    Q: How quickly will we find out our results?

    A: The results of your accreditation will be shared with you at the end of your hearing.  You will receive formal notification of your accreditation or reaccreditation in the form of a digital confirmation letter and certificate after NRPA’s annual conference.  An order for your CAPRA recycled glass recognition award  will also be placed at this time to be shipped directly to the organization.

  • Open or CloseCAPRA Annual Report Requirement

    Q: When is the annual report due?

    A: Organizations are required to submit their annual report no later than May 31 annually.


    Q: What information is required in the annual report?

    A: In an effort to ensure organizations are continually addressing the CAPRA standards in their day-to-day operations and adopting continued improvement practices, this revised format will focus on reports from organizations on specific initiatives to fully meet partially met or unmet standards based on the results of their last visitation report.  In addition, organizations will be expected to provide documentation for the most recent updates, latest review, and Evidence of Compliance for specific National Accreditation Standards.


    Q: What is the process to submit our annual report?

    A: All accredited organizations (excluding those that are being reviewed that year) are required to submit their annual report via The CAPRA Application and Review Portal

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