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What is accreditation?

Accreditation is a quality improvement program that provides official recognition and endorsement that an organization meets, or exceeds, pre-defined standards of excellence. Standards are the foundation of any accreditation program.

What are accreditation standards?

Standards are widely researched, field tested, collaborative rules of practice that have been accepted by a field as a basis of judgement for an average or normal requirement. 

What is involved in the accreditation process?

There are several steps. Each accreditation organization has a different process. 

The general steps include:

  1. Identification of an “accreditation lead” for your organization
  2. Information gathering from the accrediting body and determination of a contact person
  3. Determination of a timeline followed by the application, registration, or intent to survey completion.
  4. Perform a self evaluation using the appropriate standard set.
  5. Involve all of the staff, managers, and stakeholders
  6. Complete survey preparation and scheduling
  7. Undergo the survey
  8. Debrief
  9. Develop a plan for addressing recommendations
  10. Stay in touch with the accrediting body throughout the cycle and maintain standards as part of your organization’s culture
  11. Prepare for the next survey

Who is involved in the accreditation process?

Accreditation involves both internal and external evaluation…The people you serve are top of mind. All organizational staff, management, and governance, as well as all stakeholders are involved. The Accreditation organization’s staff and surveyors are involved. Your peers are involved in the standard development process, as surveyors, as mentors, and as collaborators.

What takes place during the self-study portion of accreditation?

The accrediting body provides you with tools and resources to evaluate how well you meet the standards you will need to conform to in order to be accredited. During this time, you can make changes to your programs and services to bring them in line with the standards. Once you feel that you are ready for the actual accreditation review, you submit a formal application for accreditation and apply for a site review/survey by one of the accrediting body’s surveyors.

What is the accreditation site review / survey and what is involved?

An accreditation site review/survey is when your programs and service are evaluated by a surveyor to determine how you have met the standards. The surveyor(s) visit your agency to undertake this review. The length of time needed is dependent on the size of the agency, its volume of services, and the location of its programs.

What are the costs of accreditation?

This will vary by accrediting body. You should consult the Accreditation Body’s website and/or call or email. Remember, despite the initial costs, the return on investment is significant.

How long does it take for a service provider to prepare for accreditation?

This will vary depending on the resources you have available, how well you already confirm to the standard set, the accrediting body, among other factors but should take anywhere between 9 months to 1.5 years.

Do we have to submit all our program/service areas for accreditation? 

No, you can decide which programs will seek accreditation. It is beneficial to obtain accreditation for all eligible service areas but it is not required.

Can programs and services provided by an individual be accredited? 

Yes! When the standards refer to an “organization,” they refer to any business entity, such as an individual, sole proprietorship, partnership, joint venture, or corporation.

Do service providers need to meet all standards to be accredited? 

No. The accreditation decision is based on the balance of a service provider’s strengths and areas for improvement. Even service providers that achieve the maximum term of accreditation will likely have areas for improvement identified in their report.

The survey is a tool for quality improvement within organizations that identifies the level of conformance by an organization to a set of standards. Standards identified as not in full conformance are addressed through a Quality Improvement Plan. 

Do all residential sites have to be visited during the survey? 

If the sites are owned, rented, leased, or operated by the service provider, they all must be visited during the service provider's first survey of this service category. On resurveys, a sampling is conducted. If the sites are privately owned by the persons served, the surveyors will visit by invitation only.

What are the possible accreditation options (i.e. accrediting bodies)? 

We are pleased to provide you with a list of accrediting bodies. If you have the name of another accrediting body please let us know and we’d be happy to add it to the below list.

Accreditation Canada (
CARF Canada (
FOCUS Accreditation (  
Canadian Centre for Accreditation (
International Organization for Standardization (ISO) (