Behavioral Health Accreditation Comparison: CARF, COA and TJC

Behavioral Health Accreditation Comparison: CARF, COA and TJC

Accreditation ensures quality care and services are provided to individuals in a safe manner. Onsite accreditation surveys demonstrate if programs and services are conducted in a manner that is consistent with established, field tested standards. It is a key way for behavioral health organizations to show commitment to quality as well as a possible condition for federal and state regulatory compliance, grants, reimbursement for certain insurers or other payers, Medicaid certification, etc.

Accreditation can be a daunting task for behavioral health providers. Here are the major similarities and differences between CARF, COA and TJC Accreditation:

CARF- Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities

CARF International is an independent, nonprofit accreditor of health and human services. They accredit around 47,000 programs and services with more than 20,000 locations on five continents. CARF directly impacts over 8.3 million people through over 6,000 providers.


Founded: 1966

Who they Accredit: Health and Human Service organizations. CARF accredits Aging Services, Behavioral Health, Child and Youth Services, Employment and Community Services, Opioid Treatment Programs, etc.

Length of Accreditation: Options include 3-Year Accreditation, 1-Year Accreditation, Provisional Accreditation, Non-Accreditation, Preliminary Accreditation.

Amount of Preparation Time Needed: 6-9 months for a new accreditation and for re-accreditation.

Cost of Accreditation: Application fee is $995Survey Fee is $1,670 fee per surveyor, per day (i.e. 2 surveyors: $6,880 – All travel, hotel, etc. costs are included in the day rate).

COA- Council on Accreditation

The Council on Accreditation (COA) is an international, independent, nonprofit, human service accrediting organization. They currently accredit more than 2,200 organizations and programs serving more than 7 million individuals and families.


Founded: 1977

Who they Accredit: Human Service Organizations. COA accredits the full continuum of child welfare, behavioral health, and community-based social services.

Length of Accreditation: 3 years for Opioid Treatment Programs and 4 years for other programs.

Amount of Preparation Time Needed: 9-16 months.

Cost of Accreditation: 

  • Application Fee: Non-refundable application fee $750 (not applicable for reaccreditation).
  • Accreditation Fee: Fees start at a minimum of $7,392 for an organization with revenue of $500,000 or less, and increase accordingly.
  • Site Visit Fee: Flat fee of $2,200 per Reviewer for a two-day on-site review, plus $475 per day multiplied by the number of Reviewers for each additional day.
  • Maintenance of Accreditation Fee: $400 annually.

For further information on the cost of COA accreditation, including a fee schedule, click on the following link:

TJC- The Joint Commission

The Joint Commission (TJC) is an independent, not-for-profit organization that accredits and certifies nearly 21,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States.


Founded: 1951

Who they Accredit: Many types of health care organizations including hospitals, doctor’s offices, nursing homes, office-based surgery centers, behavioral health treatment facilities, and providers of home care services.

Length of Accreditation: 3 year accreditation.

Amount of Preparation Time Needed: 4-6 months.

Cost of Accreditation: Fee estimates vary and are based on current published pricing and information about services and service volume provided by your organization.

  • Application Fee: Initial applicants must submit a non-transferable, non-refundable deposit of $1,700 with the application for survey.
  • Annual Fee: A pro-rated annual fee is billed at the beginning of the quarter after which an initial application is received.

For further information click on the following link:

We at Brown Consulting are specialists in Behavioral Health Consulting with an expertise in accreditation. Give us a call with any accreditation questions today: 1-800-495-6786.

-Megan Phillips, M.A.




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