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CARF introduces medically complex population designation standards for behavioral health and child and youth services

February 22, 2011, Tucson, Arizona -- Responding to the needs of service organizations, CARF International released a set of accreditation standards for providers serving persons with medically complex needs in the areas of behavioral health and child and youth services. The standards can be applied on CARF surveys conducted after June 30 this year.

Application of the standards will be required for service providers whose primary purpose is serving persons with medically complex needs in residential and community settings alike. The application of the standards is optional for other providers that serve persons with medically complex needs as a component of their services.

"Inclusion of these standards helps make sure that children and youths whose lives are touched by medical complications will receive services that attend to their condition and involve all significant caretakers and other providers," said Leslie Ellis-Lang, managing director of CARF's Child and Youth Services customer service unit. "These programs might be in medical foster care homes, group homes, or residential programs."

Nikki Migas, managing director of CARF's Behavioral Health customer service unit, added, "In the behavioral health area, these standards will be most often applicable in residential facilities known as Intermediate Care Facilities for Persons with Mental Retardation (ICFs/MR). Application of these new standards will help ensure that accredited providers address the medical concerns as well as the behavioral needs of their residents."

CARF developed the standards over four years with input from parents, researchers, provider associations, governmental bodies, and professionals. CARF's leadership in framing these standards is backed by its 45-year history of accrediting health and human services.

Catherine Davidson, business development director for CARF Canada, recounted, "Initially, CARF Canada collaborated with the Ontario Association of Residences Treating Youth (OARTY) in Toronto in creating a draft of the standards. A small group of leaders in the province diligently considered the best practices that should be in place to enhance quality of life for the children they serve."

CARF brought the group's original recommendations forward to a focus group, an International Standards Advisory Committee, and then to CARF's International Advisory Council. CARF's approach to an inclusive standards development process culminated in a broad field review, which invited comment from interested professionals and the public, prior to the standards' adoption.

Standards for medically fragile population designation were first introduced in the 2010 Employment and Community Services Standards Manual. The standards were then revised and tailored to the unique needs of persons served in the areas of behavioral health and child and youth services.

"All participants in the development of the standards represented experience in the field and concern for enhancing the quality of services and supports for individuals who have medically complex needs, many of whom receive services for multiple years," Davidson said.

Standards for the medically complex population designation are included in the recently published 2011 Behavioral Health Standards Manual and 2011 Child and Youth Services Standards Manual. The standards manuals are available in electronic and print formats at

2/22/2011 12:05:00 AM

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