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CARF introduces accreditation for supported education in 2012 Employment and Community Services Standards Manual

New standards address the postsecondary education needs of persons with disabilities 

February 9, 2012, Tucson, Arizona -- CARF International released accreditation standards for supported education. The standards are in the newly published 2012 Employment and Community Services Standards Manual, available in electronic and print formats at (in Canada, 

A supported education program provides resources that help persons prepare for transitions and supports that allow them to be successful during their continued education, and it creates collaborations with other community partners to meet the needs of the persons served in educational settings.

The purpose of supported education is to provide supports to individuals who are enrolled or want to enroll in an education program to achieve their learning goals. These goals may lead to persons being gainfully employed in the job or career of their choice.

The standards for supported education can be applied on CARF surveys conducted after June 30 this year.

The standards were drafted by an International Standards Advisory Committee and then submitted to CARF's International Advisory Council for review. 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.

"Supported education expresses the belief that persons with disabilities can attend classes, learn, and improve their options," said Paul Andrew, managing director of CARF's Employment and Community Services accreditation area. "Individuals with postsecondary degrees or certificates enjoy the benefits of higher levels of earnings and savings, increased personal and professional mobility, improved quality of life for their children, and more job and career choices."

Supported education occurs in the community in settings such as an academic campus, vocational/trade school, college, and other postsecondary educational settings, and might include online learning venues.

Pat L. Steele is the director of employment services with Optimae LifeServices, Inc., in Des Moines, Iowa. The organization's success in its supported education program is profiled in an article by Steele, "Going back to school today makes it easier to go to work tomorrow," (in PDF format) at

Steele observed, "Supported education today is, in many respects, where supported employment was 25 to 30 years ago. Back then, it seemed difficult for some people to visualize how people with disabilities could work in the community. At present, it may be hard for some to see how people with disabilities can succeed in postsecondary education. However, we must recognize that returning to school will make it easier to go to work. Most important, the additional skills and training can help lead to a lifetime of economic stability and self-sufficiency."

CARF's leadership in framing standards is backed by its 46-year history of accrediting health and human services.

2/9/2012 1:05:00 AM

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