CARF FAQs

What is CARF?

Founded in 1966 as the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, CARF International is an independent, nonprofit accreditor of health and human services in the following areas:

Aging Services
Behavioral Health
Opioid Treatment Programs
Business and Services Management Networks
Child and Youth Services
Employment and Community Services
Vision Rehabilitation
Medical Rehabilitation
DMEPOS (Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies)
The CARF family of organizations currently accredits close to 50,000 programs and services at more than 22,000 locations. More than 8 million persons of all ages are served annually by more than 6,500 CARF-accredited service providers.

CARF accreditation extends to countries in North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa.

What is the CARF accreditation process?

The CARF accreditation process starts with a provider’s commitment to continuous improvement and culminates with external review and recognition that the provider’s business and service practices meet international standards of quality — with all the steps in between focused on optimal outcomes for the persons the provider serves and sustained organizational success. Achieving greater satisfaction for stakeholders, improved organizational efficiency and effectiveness, as well as an enhanced community image, are among the benefits of the CARF accreditation process.

The CARF standards have been developed over 40 plus years by international teams of service providers, policymakers, payers, family members, and consumers. The standards have also been submitted to the public for review to validate relevancy and ensure input from all interested stakeholders.

After a service provider commits to accreditation, the accreditation process begins with a thorough self-evaluation that applies the relevant CARF standards against the organization’s practices. Once the organization is in conformance to the standards, a request for a CARF survey is submitted at least three full months in advance of the desired date for an on-site survey. By the date of the survey, the provider should be in conformance with the standards for at least six months.

The survey team comprises industry peers who follow a consultative (rather than an inspective) approach in conducting the on-site survey. In addition to interviews of staff, persons served and their families, the surveyors observe organizational practices, review appropriate documentation, answer questions, and suggest ways to improve the provider’s operations and service delivery.

Following completion of the survey, CARF renders an accreditation decision and delivers a report that identifies the service provider’s strengths and areas for improvement and its level of demonstrated conformance to the standards.

To demonstrate its ongoing conformance to the CARF standards, an accredited provider completes a Quality Improvement Plan after receiving the survey report and submits an Annual Conformance to Quality Report each year throughout the accreditation term.

What are CARF Quality standards?

Quality standards form the cornerstone of CARF accreditation. Conformance to quality standards is a way to identify areas for improvement and growth and help the service provider focus on improved service outcomes, the satisfaction of the persons served, and quality service delivery. Each standard sets a guideline for the subject addressed.

The unique collection of standards in each standards manual composes a framework that builds upon your existing practices. Each manual includes quality standards for business practices, service processes, and specific programs and services. Standards provide a mechanism for continuous improvement to positively impact service providers and their consumers.

CARF publishes standards manuals in the following areas:

  • Aging Services (including Continuing Care Retirement Communities)
  • Behavioral Health
  • Business and Services Management Networks
  • Child and Youth Services
  • Employment and Community Services
  • Medical Rehabilitation (including DMEPOS)
  • Opioid Treatment Program
  • Vision Rehabilitation Services

CARF quality standards have been recognized as a roadmap for quality practices. With the rapid changes in health and human services, the standards assist a service provider in maintaining a leading edge.

Each set of standards is developed with the input of providers, consumers, payers, and other experts from around the world. As such, CARF standards are “field-driven” and “international consensus” standards.

Each year, CARF updates its standards manuals to ensure that its standards are relevant and guide service excellence. Often, the updates provide clarification in response to feedback received from the field. Occasionally, CARF will introduce or update a set of standards between printings of the standards manual. These mid-year changes may be posted online or be available through Customer Connect.

What is the Value of CARF accreditation?

CARF is committed to providing the greatest value for your accreditation investment. Your customers look for CARF accreditation as their assurance that your programs or facilities are of the highest quality. Payers recognize CARF accreditation as a demonstration of superior performance for their clients. As a service provider, you have the advantage of clearly defined and internationally accepted standards to ensure that your services remain among the elite for excellence.

Among the many benefits provided by CARF accreditation are:

  • Business improvement.
  • Service excellence.
  • Competitive differentiation.
  • Risk management.
  • Funding access.
  • Positive visibility.
  • Accountability.
  • Peer networking.