What is CARF Accreditation?

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  • Written By: A. Leverkuhn
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 08 November 2019
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CARF accreditation is a common process for facilities and providers all over the world that focus on rehabilitation and other human services. The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitative Facilities (CARF) is a nonprofit, international group that helps to develop standards for a variety of human services fields. Getting CARF accreditation helps different human services providers to prove a high level of quality to anyone outside of the business.

The types of facilities and providers that might seek CARF accreditation include those who deal with an aging population, as well as those housing or counseling youth, or those serving others in behavioral service environments. Facilities of businesses that get reviewed for CARF approval and accreditation generally provide homes for individuals, or bring individuals to these facilities for extensive services. Every country has its own specific format for the role of human service businesses.


Getting CARF accreditation provides a range of benefits for a specific provider and the facilities that it owns and operates. CARF accreditation appeals to the public; when families look at their options for human services providers, they may take notice of a CARF accreditation as a mark of quality. Another very instrumental part of CARF accreditation is helping third-party services prove their legitimacy in order to take advantage of payouts from insurance or government “payers.” For example, in the United States, the major Medicaid and Medicare entitlements recognize this kind of credential as a vital part of credibility for the providers that receive payments from them.

A human services provider that wants accreditation from CARF might start with a formal commitment to comply with the standards of this organization. This is often followed by a “self-evaluation” stage, where the leadership will start to outline ways that the business can conform. These initial stages are critical in preparing an entity for accreditation.

After the formal commitment process, CARF officials will often proceed with on-site surveys and other activities to review the provider in question. CARF makes clear in its internal resources that the organization is committed to providing a “consultative” and not an “inspective” approach to these surveys. The staff may do research, provide suggestions for improvement, and disseminate materials that may help the provider to improve standards to the levels suggested by CARF.

As part of ongoing implementation of CARF accreditation, a provider might review and understand a Quality Improvement Plan. In future years, the entity can submit a Conformance to Quality Report to CARF that can be used to certify ongoing accreditation. To many leaders in the field of human services, accreditation from CARF is vitally important, and many efforts are taken to obtain this qualification.


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