Become a Safe Community

Become a Safe Community

  • The Safe Communities model is a long-standing approach to reducing injuries and deaths. It works through engaging local partners who care about safety, using data to identify leading causes of injury, making a plan to address the issues using proven methods and measuring success. An accredited Safe Community can be a city, village, county, region or university. The community decides the borders. The benefits to becoming a Safe Community include:
    • Increased capacity and efficiency to address injuries and safety
    • Potential for funding through partnerships
    • Community economic development opportunities
    • Awareness of public efforts to increase quality of life
    • Recognition for your community's commitment to safety
    When you become an accredited Safe Community, you officially join the Pan Pacific Safe Communities Network, a network of safe communities in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States.      

    Steps to Safe Communities Accreditation

Building your coalition can take 10-12 months. The Community Toolbox offers strategies to build and maintain a coalition.

Secure community leadership. Community leadership support, including the mayor, council members, and/or city manager, is a requirement for Safe Communities accreditation. If you need sample letters to your leadership, please contact SCA staff.

Establish a core group. Bring together key stakeholders to explore how Safe Communities accreditation will benefit the community. Consider leveraging an existing group when forming your coalition (e.g.. Safe Kids coalition, Steering Committee on Health and Safety, a local emergency planning committee). Your core group can help you develop a mission and encourage others to join.

Identify a lead organization. One organization should take the leadership role in the application and coalition building process. We highly recommend two leads from different organizations. The lead may change over time and the coalition can be led by any organization. The lead organization(s) will act as the main contact between the community and Safe Communities America.

Review community data. How are people getting hurt? Where are they getting hurt? Why are they getting hurt? Use data from hospitals, health departments, colleges and universities, police departments, schools, any local or regional data to help you determine what injuries are occurring in your community.  

Conduct community assessment. What programs, policies, practices or partnerships exist to keep the community safe and healthy? What activities exist in the community, schools, workplace, etc.? An inventory of programs will help you identify where efforts are duplicated and where gaps exist.

Every community must meet the following criteria to meet accreditation standards:

  • Sustained collaboration: Community leaders and advocates work together to improve the quality of life in the community
  • Data collection and application: Collection and examination of community injury data to set injury priorities
  • Effective strategies to address unintentional and intentional injuries: Proactive and strategic approaches to address the highest injury area in the community
  • Evaluation methods: Implement sound methods to measure progress of coalition-supported initiatives

We are not accepting new letters of intent.

SCA staff will provide ongoing support to the community. SCA staff can review draft applications, attend meetings over the phone with the coalition, provide sample materials and connect you with current Safe Communities coalition leaders.

Once the final application is submitted, SCA staff will complete a cursory review to ensure all components are in the application.

Once the cursory review is complete, SCA staff will assign two national reviewers and one international reviewer. The international reviewer will only complete a desktop review and will not attend the site visit. Reviewers will then have four to eight weeks to complete the review process. This does not include the site visit. Reviewers may ask for additional modifications to the application during this period.

A site visit is required for all new communities and some reaccrediting communities. The site visit lasts 1.5 days and covers programs and partnership documented in the application. Reviewers will outline what they would like to see in the site visit. At the end of the site visit, reviewers will indicate to the community whether they recommend the community for accreditation. If you are seeking reaccreditation, please review the Does My Community Need a Site Visit? document to determine if you will need a site visit.

Reviewers will provide SCA staff with a final report highlighting successes and areas for improvement. Communities must cover the costs for travel, lodging and meals for the two national SCA reviewers.

The accreditation ceremony should be planned within 12 weeks of the site visit and must support the travel, lodging and meals for one SCA program staff member. You will work with the SCA director to determine a date and time.

The Safe Communities accreditation lasts five years. In order to maintain good status, communities are required to do the following:

  • Send a community representative to the Safe Communities America Network meeting every other year of accreditation; the meeting is held in Chicago every year and has no registration fee
  • Attend quarterly calls to share national and local programs and activities
  • Submit annual community report  
  • Document steering committee/advisory council/coalition leadership meetings at least twice a year
  • Evaluate coalition-supported initiatives; the annual community report requires evaluation strategies implemented in a coalition's priority areas
  • An application must be submitted every five years to sustain Safe Communities accreditation, although not every community will require a site visit; see the application to determine if you will require a site visit or ask SCA staff

Failure to meet these requirements may impact the community's accreditation.

Changes Coming to Safe Communities Program

NSC is no longer accepting new applications. Please contact Steve Sparrow at the University of Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center, at [email protected].

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