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  • Steps to accreditation

    Condensed from the CARF standards manuals. 

    (If your organization is applying for a CARF survey, please review the complete steps to accreditation published in the standards manuals. Learn about our quality standards and visit our Online StoreNew window icon to obtain a standards manual.)

    The steps to accreditation may involve one year or more of preparation before the site survey and ongoing quality improvement following the survey.

    1. Consult with a designated CARF resource specialist to receive guidance and technical assistance regarding the accreditation process.

    2. Conduct a self-evaluation. The service provider conducts a self-study and evaluation of its conformance to the standards.

    3. Submit the survey application. The survey application includes detailed information about leadership, the programs and services that the service provider is seeking to accredit, and the service delivery location(s).

    4. CARF invoices for the survey fee. The CARF fee is based on the number of surveyors and days needed to complete the survey. The CCRC fee is fixed, with additional fees if additional programs are added to the survey.

    5. CARF selects the survey team. Surveyors are selected by matching their program or administrative expertise and relevant field experience with the service provider's unique requirements.

    6. The survey team conducts the survey and determines the service provider's conformance to all applicable standards on site by observing services, interviewing persons served and other stakeholders, and reviewing documentation. Surveyors also provide consultation to the provider's personnel.

    7. CARF renders the accreditation decision. CARF reviews the survey findings and renders one of the following accreditation decisions:


    • Three-Year Accreditation
    • One-Year Accreditation
    • Provisional Accreditation
    • Nonaccreditation 


    • Five-Year Term of Accreditation
    • Nonaccreditation 

    Approximately six to eight weeks after the survey, CARF notifies the service provider of the accreditation decision and sends the report and Quality Improvement Plan (QIP).

    8. Submit a Quality Improvement Plan (QIP). Within 90 days following notification of the accreditation outcome, the service provider fulfills an accreditation condition by submitting to CARF a QIP outlining actions that have been or will be taken in response to the areas for improvement identified in the report. The QIP form can be downloaded from Customer Connect.New window icon 

    9. Submit an Annual Conformance to Quality Report (ACQR). A service provider that earns accreditation submits to CARF a signed ACQR on the accreditation anniversary date in each of the years following the award. CARF sends the service provider the form for this report approximately ten weeks before it is due.

    With their ACQR, accredited CCRCs also submit an annual QIP if updates have been made.

    10. CARF maintains contact with the service provider during the accreditation tenure. Providers are also encouraged to contact CARF as needed to help maintain conformance to the standards.

  • Was this information helpful? Please contact us if you have any questions or to begin the accreditation process.

    Learn a surveyor's advice on preparing for a CARF survey: What a surveyor really wants to tell you (PDF).

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