CARF Accreditation–What Should I Expect?

What should I expect during my CARF accreditation survey?

Today is the day. It’s been months of preparation. You are expecting a CARF surveyor to visit your organization. You are ready. Policies and procedures are updated. Files and other documentation have been triple checked for accuracy. All involved parties (board members, personnel and clients) are aware of the survey and available to participate. What should you expect?

What is the general CARF Surveyor process?

A CARF surveyor is a health and human services professional who will evaluate your organization for compliance with CARF standards. They will be onsite for 2-3 days reviewing files, interviewing staff and generally checking out your organization.

The CARF surveyor  will need a hard copy of your policies, procedures and other plan documentation to review when they arrive. A general meet-and-greet will take place with all involved parties. Then, the CARF surveyor will want to review the documentation (this includes client files) and possibly meet with and interview staff members who work in different areas of your organization. Be prepared to set up meetings with human resources, administrative professionals, finance, information technology, quality improvement, service providers etc.

Different CARF surveyors conduct site visits in differing ways, all with the same objective— assessing your organizational compliance with CARF standards. A report will be written about their assessment, which will also outline recommendations. These survey findings are noted areas in your organization lacking compliance and in need of improvement.

The accreditation decision is based on the balance of an organization’s strengths and needed areas for improvement. Organizations don’t have to meet all standards to be accredited. Even organizations who meet the maximum term of accreditation generally have survey findings to improve upon.

Where can I read further regarding the CARF standards and accreditation process?

“CARF offers a series of educational and training sessions to assist service providers to prepare for accreditation, help them remain current with changes in the standards and learn about new standards, and discuss current field practices. CARF also offers web-based educational events. The training dates are listed on this events page.” (

How can I best prepare for the CARF process?

Since 1987, Brown Consulting, Ltd. has assisted hundreds of behavioral health organizations achieve accreditation. We are recognized nationally as “Specialists in Accreditation”. Call us today and your organization can be CARF accredited in less than a year! Let us help you achieve your goals!


-Megan Phillips, M.A.




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