Steps to accreditation

CARF accreditation is a commitment to continuous improvement and service excellence that culminates in an external review (survey) and recognition that the program’s business and service practices meet international standards of quality. The process may involve a year or more of preparation before the survey and requires ongoing improvement efforts afterward. Full details about each of the following steps are published in all standards manuals.

Once a New Organization Questionnaire is submitted to CARF, you will be connected with a designated CARF resource specialist who will provide guidance and technical assistance throughout the accreditation process. Your resource specialist will provide access to Customer Connect (website for transmitting information and documents) and will help determine which standards manual you will need based on the programs or services you want to be accredited.

We recommend that you conduct a self-study and evaluation of your program’s conformance to the standards to determine if you are ready for an accreditation survey.

The survey application gathers the two-month timeframe in which you would like the survey to be conducted and information about your leadership, the programs and services you want to be accredited, and the location(s) where services are provided.

The survey fee* is based on the number of surveyors and days needed to complete the survey. Scheduling of the survey begins immediately upon invoicing. Contact us for an estimate.

*The survey fee for Continuing Care Retirement Communities is fixed. Additional fees apply. Contact us for details.

Surveyors are selected by matching their expertise and relevant field experience with your program’s unique characteristics. Our surveyors are industry peers who follow a consultative (rather than inspective) approach in conducting the survey.

The survey team conducts the survey and determines your conformance to all applicable standards by observing services, interviewing persons served and other stakeholders, and reviewing your documentation. The survey team also provides consultation to your staff during the survey.

We review the survey findings and issue one of the following accreditation decisions:

  • Five-Year Accreditation (CCRCs only)
  • Three-Year Accreditation
  • One-Year Accreditation
  • Provisional Accreditation
  • Nonaccreditation

Approximately six to eight weeks after the survey, the organization is notified of the accreditation decision and receives a written report. Within 60 days of the decision, the organization receives a certificate of accreditation that lists the program(s) /service(s) included in the accreditation.

Within 90 days of being notified of the accreditation decision, you submit a completed QIP outlining actions that have been or will be taken in response to the areas for improvement identified in the report.

Upon achieving accreditation, you will need to submit an ACQR. We send you the ACQR form approximately ten weeks before it is due.

We are here to help throughout the accreditation process. We encourage you to contact us as needed to help you maintain conformance to the standards and answer your questions.

Introduction to CARF

An introduction to CARF’s peer-review model, value and benefits of accreditation, standards development process, quality framework, areas of accreditation, preparing for a survey, and the survey process. (60 min.)

We are your partner for quality and success

Two women analyzing documents at an office

Value of accreditation

Our consultative peer-review process promotes active, dynamic planning focused on impact and outcomes. Learn how we can help your organization.

Man working at a laptop computer

Prepare for survey

Learn how to prepare for your accreditation survey.

Additional information

Information and resources to help you stay connected and current with industry happenings.

Large, diverse group of people standing close together and smiling

Areas of accreditation

Our quality standards for programs/services are organized in standards manuals by area of accreditation.

Group of people sitting and smiling at an education and training event

Education and training

We offer in-person and web-based opportunities to help prepare for accreditation, remain current with standards, and learn about field trends.

Person pulling a document from filing cabinet


Explore a variety of valuable and informative resources.

Smiling woman placing her hand on another person's shoulder

We’re here to help!

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