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If you work in behavioral health, retirement living, or medical rehabilitation, chances are you’ve heard of CARF. CARF stands for The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities and is an international organization that provides accreditation services.


Think of them as Homeland Security for those working in addiction and substance abuse, aging services, rehabilitation, or one of the other health and human service programs.


A passport, or accreditation, from CARF gives organizations a stamp of approval that is visible to multiple payers like insurance companies. This CARF passport signals to payers that the organization has met a comprehensive set of standards. Having CARF accreditation can streamline enrollments and make it easier for health care providers to get paid. Sounds pretty good, right?


Who can benefit from this? Any organization that works in:


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


CARF Accreditation comes with several perks like standing out to potential clients and payers as a reputable location. But it also directly impacts patients served, improved quality standards, and annual budget dollars. Stop leaving money on the table and learn how to pass CARF Accreditation with these simple steps.


  1. Assign a Lead

There are multiple steps to accreditation. The process is lengthy, taking up to 1 year for first-timers and up to 8 months for those renewing. It is vital to have a point person in charge of organizing what tasks need to be completed and the timeline. Think of this person as your travel agent. They’re there to organize your destinations and travel time.


  1. Perform a Self Evaluation

Any accreditation worth getting requires testing and documentation. Imagine the self-evaluation as the first test in the process of becoming CARF accredited. CARF has standards manuals for each type of organization. Ideally, this self-evaluation will be conducted by a team that can break down the standards and test whether they are being upheld by the organization. Think of this as your roadmap to ensuring quality practices.


  1. Perfect Your Survey Application

CARF requires organizations to submit the survey application at least 3 months prior to their survey date. If something is missing or incorrect, you’re essentially losing 3 months of time. If you’ve been thorough with your self-evaluation, your survey application should be up-to-date and correct. But it never hurts to double and triple check. Filing an incorrect survey application is like showing up to the airport for a 7-hour flight without your headphones. A nightmare.


  1. Prepare Your Personnel

Once the survey has been scheduled, you’ll need to communicate with your personnel about the date. CARF surveyors will be visiting your site to observe services and interview persons served, and interview other stakeholders. Hopefully, this visit isn’t a surprise to anyone on your staff since you have been diligently preparing for this. But it is a good idea to remind everyone that there will be surveyors on site. Also, the self-evaluation may have highlighted some areas of improvement for personnel which may have led to more training, so you’ll want to follow up and make sure that has been completed by everyone.


  1. Consult a Specialist

By now, I’m sure you’ve realized becoming CARF accredited is way more lengthy and complicated than getting a passport. At least you don’t have to take an unattractive photo. But you will need a team of people to work on all the steps which will likely take at least half the year. For some organizations, the benefits of CARF accreditation seem worth it, but it’s just not feasible with their budget and staff. This is where expert credentialing software comes in. Companies like MedTrainer have experts on staff who know what you need for CARF accreditation. MedTrainer’s cloud-based platform has all the tools you need to track all the necessary documents as well.

If you’ve been thinking about becoming CARF Accreditated but would love some help to get you there, schedule a demo at and see what we can do for you.

MedTrainer is also a learning platform and has over 500 courses that can help get your staff up to par. Check out our most popular courses for Behavioral Health Providers.