What is The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF)?

July 9, 2019 by Steven Mandley

What is CARF?

The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) International is an independent, nonprofit organization focused on advancing the quality of health and human services in the following areas:

  • Aging Services
  • Behavioral Health
  • Child and Youth Services
  • Employment and Community Services
  • Medical Rehabilitation
  • Opioid Treatment Program

The CARF International group of companies currently accredits more than 59,000 programs and services at more than 27,000 locations. More than 12.3 million people of all ages are served annually by 7,800-CARF-accredited service providers.

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

How is accreditation achieved?

A service provider begins the accreditation process with an internal examination of its program and business practices. Then the provider requests an on-site survey that will be conducted by a team of expert practitioners selected by CARF. During the survey, the provider must demonstrate conformance to a series of rigorous and internationally recognized CARF standards.

Based on the results of the survey, CARF prepares a written report of the provider’s strengths and areas for improvement. If a provider has sufficiently demonstrated its conformance to the standards, it earns CARF accreditation.

After receiving the report, the provider must submit a Quality Improvement Plan (QIP) to CARF to show how it is addressing any areas for improvement. Then, each year during the term of accreditation, the provider must submit a report to CARF documenting additional improvements it has made.

How does a facility begin the process?

If your organization is applying for CARF accreditation, here are a few steps to follow. These may involve one year or longer in preparation before the on-site survey can be conducted.

  1. Consult a designated CARF resource specialist for advice, guidance and technical assistance to begin the accreditation process.
  2. Conduct a self-study and evaluation to determine your organization’s conformance to CARF standards.
  3. Submit the survey application.

CARF will select the survey team to visit your site. Surveyors are selected by matching their specific expertise and relevant field experience with the service provider’s unique requirements.

The survey team conducts the survey and determines the service provider’s conformance to all applicable standards on site by observing services, interviewing patients and other stakeholders, and reviewing documentation.

CARF reviews the survey findings and determines one of the following accreditation decisions:  three-year accreditation, one-year accreditation, provisional accreditation, non-accreditation.

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).

  1. Submit a QIP within 90 days following notification of the accreditation outcome.
  2. 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 maintains contact with the service provider during the accreditation tenure.

CARF will invoice the provider for the survey fee, which is based on the number of surveyors and days needed to complete the survey.

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