Preparing for the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) Accreditation

QWE Practice Guideline: 121 – Progressive: Utilize a quality framework that covers leadership/governance, strategic planning, legal/risk-management, safety, health, human resources, operations, etc.

Target group: Any organization employing and/or supporting individuals with disabilities

Practice Description

How to prepare for the CARF accreditation survey process

Resources Needed

Subject matter experts/trainers

  • Staff or consultant with knowledge of the CARF accreditation process
    • Or a team of staff willing to learn and take on the project


  • Computers and internet access

Labor hours

  • Time for staff to complete the preparation, usually done over the course of a year

Implementation Process


  • Process
    • Develop a CARF team that will complete the preparation process
      • Establish a team lead
      • Share process with each level of leadership to obtain support and establish expectations
      • Team should meet regularly throughout the process to ensure tasks are being completed on time and as expected
    • Establish the purpose of obtaining accreditation
    • Review the preparation documents and trainings offered by CARF International
    • Review the main timeline for survey preparation and create a project plan with task leads and defined due dates
      • 12 months before the survey
        • Contact CARF to connect with a resource specialist and obtain the appropriate manual
          • You can connect with your specialist as often as you need or want
        • Create a Customer Connect account
        • Have your CARF team complete available trainings
        • Inform the rest of the organization about the preparation for CARF accreditation
      • 9 months before the survey
        • Review the appropriate preparation workbook, which offers a presurvey
        • Review noted weaknesses and/or nonconformances uncovered in the presurvey
        • Develop a plan of action to address uncovered issues
      • 6 months before the survey
        • Use your Customer Connect account to complete and submit your application
          • This needs to be done at least 3 months ahead of your anticipated survey timeframe (normally 2 months)
      • 3-4 months before the survey
        • Review preparation plan and ensure all tasks are on track
        • Update staff, leadership, and other relevant stakeholders as to the CARF progress
          • Share any new or continued expectations
        • Establish a list of all survey areas and include
          • Name of subject matter expert
          • Associated documents and locations
          • Associated staff that may be contacted
      • 1 month before the survey
        • Confirm receipt of written notice from CARF outlining survey dates
        • Review presurvey results and assess for any final corrections
          • Conduct presurvey a second time if preferred
      • 2 weeks before the survey
        • A survey team coordinator will be in contact to review the survey process and logistics
          • Ensure relevant staff are prepared and understand expectations for their participation in the survey
      • 1 week before the survey
        • Share general survey schedule with staff
        • Ensure meeting room for the survey staff is ready
          • Include access to all relevant files they will need
          • Provide an updated copy of the company’s organizational chart


  • SOPs
    • Policies and procedures for implementing and monitoring the preparation process
  • Training
    • Time for staff to learn about the process, attend trainings, and train supporting staff



  • Engagement in establishing new company processes and standards
  • Empowered to uphold what they are establishing


  • Improved processes, organization, and standards
  • Recognized accreditation

Location: Tucson, AZ
Date Submitted: 2022

Resources: Quality Work Environment Workbook