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  • Prepare for your first survey 

    A timeline of presurvey preparation 

    The best way for your organization to prepare for CARF accreditation and the survey process is to incorporate the CARF standards into day-to-day operational practices.

    Twelve months before the survey 

    • Choose those programs or services in which your organization wishes to seek accreditation.
    • Contact a CARF resource specialist and obtain the correct standards manual.
    • Establish a free account in Customer Connect, the password-protected website where you can view up-to-date information about your organization’s surveys.
    • Create a CARF committee at your organization to coordinate preparation for the accreditation survey. Encourage committee members to attend a CARF training.
    • Appoint a committee member as the CARF contact/liaison and facilitator of the CARF committee.
    • Have the committee carefully review the standards manual with respect to the programs your organization will seek to accredit.
    • Inform the public through reports, newsletters, or news releases that your organization is preparing for international accreditation.
    • Involve all levels of leadership and personnel in survey preparation.

    Nine months before the survey 

    • Use the appropriate survey preparation workbook to conduct a presurvey to identify areas of weakness or nonconformance to the standards.
    • Review the results of the presurvey and develop a plan of action based on new priorities.
    • You can contact CARF as often as you need. Resource specialists are available to provide unlimited free technical assistance by telephone or email.

    Six months before the survey 

    • From the Customer Connect website, complete and submit the survey application at least three full months before the two-month time frame in which you would like your survey to take place.

    Three to four months before the survey 

    • Continue preparing your documentation, physical plant, personnel, leadership, persons served, and other relevant stakeholders for the survey.
    • Review and update, as necessary, any materials you have put in files to demonstrate conformance to standards.
    • Prepare a chart of the standards sections, the name of the key person in your organization who can answer questions about these sections, and the names of the documents that show implementation of the standards or the individuals who might be interviewed.

    One month before the survey 

    • Expect to receive a written notice from CARF regarding the specific survey dates at least 30 days before the survey.
    • To determine how you are progressing, review the areas of standards where you have been investing the most energy.
    • Your organization may choose to conduct a second presurvey depending on your progress and the comfort level of personnel.

    Two weeks before the survey 

    • Expect a call from the survey team coordinator to review the plans and logistics for the survey.
    • Based on communication with the survey team coordinator, arrange to have persons served, personnel, board members, funders, leadership, and referral sources available for interviews during the survey. (Most surveyors prefer some flexibility rather than a rigid schedule of interviews.)

    One week before the survey 

    • Inform personnel of the general schedule for the survey.
    • Set up a room for the survey team. Assemble relevant files and other documents in this room.
    • Prepare an updated organization chart with names of personnel and their titles for distribution to the members of the survey team.
    • The more organized you are, the less time surveyors will have to spend searching for information, and the more time they will have to interview, observe, and offer consultation.

    Was this information helpful? You can follow a more detailed survey preparation timeline, including post-survey and resurvey activities, in the CARF Accreditation Sourcebook, available in the "general interest" product category of CARF's Online Store. 

  • Looking to learn about accreditation?

    Attend a CARF 101 or CARF 202 class.

    Request an information packet.

  • Survey poster

    CARF International requires that you display a notification of a survey event at least 30 days prior to your organization's survey.

    Use the survey poster page to generate a printable 8.5 x 11 poster.

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