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  • What is the CARF accreditation process?

    The CARF accreditation process starts with a provider’s commitment to continuous improvement and culminates with external review and recognition that the provider’s business and service practices meet international standards of quality -- with all the steps in between focused on optimal outcomes for the persons the provider serves and sustained organizational success. Achieving greater satisfaction for stakeholders, improved organizational efficiency and effectiveness, as well as an enhanced community image, are among the benefits of the CARF accreditation process.

    The CARF standards have been developed over 40 plus years by international teams of service providers, policy makers, payers, family members, and consumers. The standards have also been submitted to the public for review to validate relevancy and ensure input from all interested stakeholders.

    After a service provider commits to accreditation, the accreditation process begins with a thorough self-evaluation that applies the relevant CARF standards against the organization’s practices. Once the organization is in conformance to the standards, a request for a CARF survey is submitted at least three full months in advance of the desired date for an on-site survey. By the date of the survey, the provider should be in conformance with the standards for at least six months.

    The survey team comprises industry peers who follow a consultative (rather than an inspective) approach in conducting the on-site survey. In addition to interviews of staff, persons served and their families, the surveyors observe organizational practices, review appropriate documentation, answer questions, and suggest ways to improve the provider's operations and service delivery.

    Following completion of the survey, CARF renders an accreditation decision and delivers a report that identifies the service provider's strengths and areas for improvement and its level of demonstrated conformance to the standards.

    To demonstrate its ongoing conformance to the CARF standards, an accredited provider completes a Quality Improvement Plan after receiving the survey report and submits an Annual Conformance to Quality Report each year throughout the accreditation term.

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  • Accreditation Process Overview recording

    Journey through the steps to CARF accreditation from the application through postsurvey follow-up in the Accreditation Process Overview PowerPoint® presentation.


  • CARF regularly offers a variety of networking and educational opportunities to assist providers with continuous quality improvement in preparation for resurvey at the conclusion of the accreditation term.

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