6 Benefits of CARF Accreditation [According to CARF Experts]

Is CARF accreditation worth it? Learn about the benefits of CARF accreditation for disability service providers.

Today, many states require CARF (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities) accreditation to receive funding or contracts for certain disability services.


Whether or not it is required in your state, it is considered best practice in the world of disability services — and for good reason.  


Accredited agencies adhere to rigorous standards that ensure quality, safety, and efficiency in their operations.


This accreditation signals to clients, families, and funding sources that your organization is committed to providing exceptional services and continuously improving. 


In a recent presentation, SETWorks executive consultants Erik Nelson and Heather Janci shared the benefits of CARF accreditation for I/DD providers.


In this article, we’ll explore these benefits in detail so that you can decide whether CARF accreditation is right for your agency. But first, what exactly is CARF accreditation?  

What is CARF accreditation?

CARF accreditation is a globally recognized credential for health and human services agencies. The CARF seal of approval shows that an organization meets the highest standards of quality and excellence.  


The CARF accreditation process involves a comprehensive evaluation of an agency’s programs, operations, and outcomes to ensure they are providing safe and effective services. This evaluation is done by experts in the field who review the agency’s policies, procedures, and practices.  


CARF offers accreditation spanning a variety of settings and environments, including aging services, behavioral health, employment and community services, and more. To date, 9,300 providers serving 13 million people have earned CARF accreditation.  

CARF accreditation benefits

  1. Enhanced credibility and reputation 
  2. Competitive advantage 
  3. Improved service delivery 
  4. Compliance with industry standards 
  5. Access to funding opportunities 
  6. Professional development and staff morale 

1. Enhanced credibility and reputation

CARF reports that accredited providers see an average 26% increase in persons served annually. Put another way, if your agency currently serves 200 clients per year, you could expect to serve over 250 after accreditation. 


This is due to the fact that CARF accreditation is widely recognized as a symbol of excellence in the field of disability services. Displaying the CARF accreditation badge on your website and marketing materials provides instant credibility. This significantly enhances your reputation as a service provider — which in turn can help you attract new clients and partnerships. 

2. Competitive advantage

CARF accreditation provides a distinct competitive advantage for disability service providers. Many clients and funders prioritize agencies with a CARF certification due to the assurance of quality and accountability it represents.  


For example, many private foundations and grant-making organizations explicitly state that they favor applicants with recognized accreditations. Likewise, families seeking reliable services for their loved ones are more inclined to choose an accredited provider over one who is not accredited. CARF accreditation can even help you compete for top-notch staff who want to work for reputable, accredited organizations.  

3. Improved service delivery

During the CARF accreditation process, you’ll critically assess your agency’s programs, policies, and procedures and identify opportunities for improvement. For instance, you might decide to establish a client advisory board or implement regular surveys to ensure client satisfaction. 


Similarly, you may decide to implement specialized software to streamline documentation and communication. These initiatives drive real-world improvements in service delivery, ensuring the individuals you serve receive the highest quality of care and support. 

4. Compliance with industry standards

The CARF standards provide a framework for business practices, program structure, and service process. These standards are continuously refined with feedback from providers, consumers, and industry experts around the globe to reflect the most current industry knowledge and best practices.  


By aligning your policies and procedures with recognized best practices, CARF accreditation ensures that your agency not only meets but often exceeds these benchmarks. Everything you do, from your documentation processes to your safety protocols, is brought in line with the standards in your industry.


In fact, CARF reports that accredited agencies see a 37% increase in conformance to quality standards. These improvements translate to greater client satisfaction and better overall outcomes for the individuals you serve. 

5. Access to funding opportunities

CARF accreditation provides assurance that providers are committed to efficient, cost-effective care. For this reason, many funding sources — including government agencies, insurance providers, and grantmakers — require or give preference to CARF-accredited agencies.  


Having CARF accreditation can open the door to new funding opportunities, enabling you to secure additional resources for program development, staff training, facility improvements, and other vital needs. And while accreditation demands a significant upfront investment of time and resources, the payoff is well worth the effort: CARF reports that accredited providers see a 37% increase in annual budget dollars.  

6. Professional development and staff morale

When it comes to CARF accreditation, the focus is not just on your services but also on the people providing them. Qualified, well-trained staff are key to clearing the high bar set by CARF standards. Knowing this, staff training and professional development are vital parts of the CARF quality improvement process. 


From mentoring programs to opportunities for additional certification, ongoing training empowers DSPs to become the best, most confident versions of themselves. This not only affects individual performance but also your overall company culture, which in turn makes your organization a great place to work 

The bottom line

Obtaining a CARF accreditation comes with numerous benefits for disability service agencies, including stronger credibility, more funding opportunities, and better service delivery. To learn more about what’s involved in CARF accreditation and how to get ready for your first survey, check out these best practices and pro tips for CARF survey preparation 

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