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  • Child and Youth Services

    CARF’s Child and Youth Services (CYS) standards manual is designed for organizations that serve children and youth from birth through young adulthood in programs in the field areas of child welfare, behavioral health or healthy development. 

    Throughout the CYS standards manual the focus on quality services is achieved through child and family driven services. This begins with standards that are developed with the voice of experience, and then for the providers, to involve the child and family in the design, implementation, delivery and ongoing evaluation of services throughout the duration of care.

    Key principles that are interwoven throughout the standards include:

    • Trauma-informed care principles
    • Well Being and Resiliency
    • Cultural and Linguistic Competency
    • Strengths Based
    • Individualized services based on assessment of the child and families unique Strengths, Needs, Abilities and Preferences (SNAP)

    Within the CYS standards manual, organizations may choose which program(s)/service(s) they provide and would like to include in the accreditation process. This is a unique feature of CARF; we allow you to choose which of the program(s) to have accredited, rather requiring every service or program you offer to be included in the accreditation process.

    CYS has standards for numerous specific types of programs. They are separated into two groups, those that are most typically offered during day-time hours and those that are considered overnight types of programs. It is important to remember that the name of the program/service you provide does not have to match the name that CARF gives a particular program. Although we try to use common or typical language for programs/services which serve children and youth, we have found this varies greatly by location, field and language. We do however offer assistance in helping you select the standards which match your programs/services best. 

    In addition to the specific program standards; we also have the following specific population standards: 

    • Juvenile Justice
    • Medically Complex

    Most often these standards are optional if you serve children and/or youth within this target population. Your Resource Specialist, the dedicated CARF representative who assists with the entire CARF process, will provide further detail if required.

    To see a complete list of the standards in the Child and Youth Services standards manual, please refer to the program descriptions New window icon for further details.

    For more information on CARF child and youth services accreditation, please email or call toll free (888) 281-6531.

    CARF standards

    The CARF standards are developed with the input of providers, consumers, payers, and other experts from around the world. As such, CARF standards are field driven and have international consensus. Each year, CARF updates its standards manuals to ensure that the standards are relevant and guide service excellence with current practices.

    The CARF Child and Youth Services Standards Manual and companion publications are available for purchase in the CARF Online Store

  • A woman playing a game with two children

  • Learn more

    For more information on CARF child and youth services accreditation, please email or call toll free (888) 281-6531.

    To arrange a customized, private on-site training, contact Leslie Ellis-Lang, Managing Director, Child and Youth Services at

  • Family First Prevention Services Act

    The Family First Prevention Services Act has asked the field to be proactive in strengthening the role of families in keeping kids safe.

    Choose CARF as your partner to help you meet this important mandate. Visit for more information. 

  • Serving youth with diverse SOGIE

    This blog series explores cultural competency practices that can help your organization be inclusive of youth with diverse SOGIE (sexual orientation and gender identity/expression).

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