Our standards

Quality standards form the cornerstone of CARF accreditation. Our international consensus standards define the expected input, processes, and outcomes of programs for persons served.

Standards development

For over 58 years, CARF standards have continually evolved through collaboration with providers, consumers, payers and other experts globally. The International Advisory Council, advisory committees, and diverse focus groups on regional and global scales are regularly engaged to ensure relevance and appropriateness of the standards. Input from the public, service recipients, providers, surveyors, professional organizations, advocacy groups, purchasers, and other stakeholders is actively sought through online reviews for proposed new and updated standards. Visit the field reviews page for further information.

The standards are published in manuals that include a framework for business practices, program structure, and service process for the following areas:

Aging Services
(including CCRCs)

Behavioral Health icon

Behavioral Health Services

Child and Youth Services icon

Child and Youth Services

Employment and Community Services icon

Employment and
Community Services

Medical Rehabilitation icon

Medical Rehabilitation

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Opioid Treatment

Vision Rehabilitation Services icon

Vision Rehabilitation

ASPIRE to Excellence® Quality Framework

ASPIRE to Excellence® is a framework of standards introduced by CARF that specifically addresses business practice quality improvement. The standards are published in Section 1 of the standards manuals.

This quality framework focuses on integrating all organizational functions while effectively engaging input from all stakeholders, including persons served. It provides a logical, action-oriented approach to ensure that organizational purpose, planning, and activity result in the desired outcomes.

Using these standards will help your organization identify and implement change and to maintain sustainability.

Environmental assessment and analysis are necessary to guide all organizational planning and action. Assessments are conducted within the context of your organization’s location, sphere of influence, and purpose, vision, and mission. Social, economic, competitive, legal, regulatory, and political environments in which your organization operates are also evaluated. The role of leadership is critical to environmental assessment.

Setting strategy means recognizing organizational competencies, identifying opportunities and threats, and articulating a high-level plan to sustain and advance your organization’s purpose. Setting strategy translates the environmental assessment factors into planning efforts, sets goals and priorities, and aligns resources to achieve performance targets.

This input process engages all stakeholders to promote long-term organizational excellence. In a service environment, organizational success cannot be achieved or sustained without success for the persons served. Actively engaging the persons served as part of the planning and service processes has been demonstrated to result in better outcomes.

Implementation means translating strategic goals into tangible action. Sound implementation requires a solid foundation of service delivery, business practices, and organizational resources, including personnel, technology, and other assets.

Setting specific, measurable goals and indicators allows your organization to track its performance and outcomes. Appropriate personnel and stakeholders must review and analyze results in order to determine areas for improvement. These activities position your organization to develop and implement quality improvement changes.

Effecting change means translating the results of analysis into focused actions. Your organization may renew or revise its strategy and tactics to improve performance against targets. Achieving excellence requires disciplined continuous improvement.

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Standards manuals are available for purchase through our online store.

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No matter where you are in your accreditation journey, we are here to answer your questions and provide assistance.