Agencies That Accredit Rehab Facilities

For the hundreds of thousands of people who enter rehab each year for addictions to drugs, alcohol, sex and other substances and activities, there are literally thousands of facilities that offer counseling and treatment. The quality of these facilities, which includes the experience and knowledge of their staff and the sophistication of their methods, varies widely. This has led several organizations to evaluate and offer accreditation to these facilities, based on various criteria. They are not directly overseen by government agencies, but gain their authority through reputation. Although some government agencies license rehab organizations that provide medical treatment, none actively accredit them.

The Commission on Accreditation and Rehabilitation Facilities

The foremost accrediting body for rehab facilities is the the Commission on Accreditation and Rehabilitation Facilities, or CARF. Founded in 1966 with help from Mary E. Switzer, who was at the time the commissioner of the federal U.S. Social and Rehabilitation Service, CARF is an international non-profit organization that uses on-site inspections and a set of rigorous methodological standards to evaluate individuals, programs and facilities. Only those organizations demonstrating conformance to these standards, beneficial results and the existence of quality improvement mechanisms are approved. While accreditation is only granted to select organizations, CARF makes an effort to help facilities improve their treatment so that they move into line with the standards. CARF is based in Tucson, Arizona.

Better Business Bureau

While CARF evaluates programs based on their compliance with a set of standards that have been established by physicians and experts to provide the best care to patients, the Better Business Bureau offers accreditation based on a facility's willingness to meet the needs of its clients and resolve all disputes in good faith. All BBB-accredited business agree to maintain a positive track record, which includes applying with all local statutes; advertise its services and products honestly; be transparent; safeguard privacy; and embody integrity. An abrogation of these policies can result in an accreditation being yanked. The BBB, which is headquartered in Southfield, Missouri, does not evaluate the quality of the treatment offered by rehab facilities, only its business practices. Only private facilities, not government-run entities, can be approved by the BBB.

The Joint Commission

The Joint Commission, formerly known as the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, is a non-profit organization that accredits healthcare organizations and programs. These include not just rehabilitation facilities, but all kinds of medical care providers. While respected, the Joint Commission has received some criticism over its practices. According to the Washington Post, the Joint Commissioner's leadership is dominated by current and former members of the healthcare industry, and over 99 percent of facilities that it inspects are eventually approved for accreditation. It also charges a fee to these organizations to maintain accreditation, which some parties see as problematic. The organization is headquartered in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois.