NEW Accreditation Requirement for NATSAP Members Announced – NATSAP members required to be accredited by 2023

To improve safety and treatment effectiveness for teens and young adults with behavioral and mental health issues, all members of the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP) will need to be accredited as of January 1, 2023. NATSAP is a national resource for programs and professionals assisting young people with emotional and behavioral difficulties.

The NATSAP board of directors approved the accreditation requirement in October 2019. The announcement was made to members in February 2020 at NATSAP’s annual meeting.

The benefits of accrediting NATSAP members include the following:

  • Improves safety and treatment effectiveness for NATSAP-member programs. This potentially will provide a stronger voice—one that could be heard with more credibility, authority and influence among federal and state legislators.
  • Allows NATSAP to focus on supporting vs regulating schools and programs.  Requiring accreditation enables bodies that specialize in those assuring quality and safety to move to the forefront in helping programs abide by the highest of professional standards.
  • Allows NATSAP to focus on supporting schools and programs. This shifts the pressure to assure quality to the bodies that specialize in standards (a partial list of these organizations appear below).
  • Demonstrates self-regulating. The Family First Act requires all NATSAP member programs accepting public dollars be nationally accredited. By taking action now and volunteering to hold the industry to a high standard, NATSAP members get a head start on the accreditation process before it is mandated.  

“Before the board vote, we did our homework,” said Megan Stokes, Executive Director, NATSAP. “We polled our members, spoke to those who were not accredited, and talked with national accrediting bodies as well as insurance agencies that offer discounts to accredited programs.”

“Next, we read research articles that discussed safety and effectiveness at accredited programs versus programs that were not accredited. Finally, we conducted outreach to other associations requiring accreditation,” Stokes explained. 

“Following our research, we arrived at a conviction that requiring accreditation was how NATSAP could live it’s association mission by guiding the way for all programs helping youth across the nation and world,” said Tony Mosier, Program Director, Telos Residential Treatment Center, Orem, Utah; and President, NATSAP.

Current approved accreditation organizations include [NOTE: additional organizations may be added to this list]:

Association for Experiential Education

CARF International

Council on Accreditation


Joint Commission

National Independent Private Schools Association (Therapeutic Level 3 or 4)

To help NATSAP members comply with the new accreditation, the organization is offering sample policies donated by members that are already accredited, a mentor program comprised of volunteers, and workshops and presentations at conferences and meetings.

According to Stokes and Mosier, these efforts will help NATSAP continue to build an association defined by quality and excellence, comprised of programs holding themselves to stellar standards, and demonstrating they value safety and evidence-based outcomes. 

For more information about NATSAP or the accreditation requirement, contact Megan Stokes at

***NATSAP has asked several accreditation consultants to write a guest blog post discussing accreditation and what it means for a program to pursue accreditation. NATSAP does not promote or refer anyone consultant or business over another. ***

Prepare for Greatness! ™ – Accreditation Guru

Demystifying National Accreditation – PJS Connection Consulting

Navigating Accreditation – Tetra Solutions 

About the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP)

Founded in January 1999, NATSAP, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit membership organization, is a national resource for programs and professionals assisting young people with emotional and behavioral difficulties. Located throughout the U.S., NATSAP members include therapeutic schools, residential treatment programs, wilderness therapy programs, young adult programs, and home-based residential programs. The Association is governed by an elected, volunteer Board of Directors comprised of representatives from its membership. NATSAP members are independently operated and owned; therefore, NATSAP does not provide placement services. All NATSAP member programs that treat children under 18 are overseen by state therapeutic licensure or accredited by major mental health bodies, and in some cases, both.

Navigating Accreditation – Tetra Solutions

***NATSAP has asked several accreditation consultants to write a guest blog post discussing accreditation and what it means for a program to pursue accreditation. NATSAP does not promote or refer anyone consultant or business over another. ***

As you know, at the Annual Conference, NATSAP announced that all of its members will need to seek and achieve national accreditation by the end of 2022.  NATSAP and its leadership know what we’ve also been seeing in the industry: national accreditation is becoming a threshold requirement for insurance companies and other payors . . . and, in short order, it will be a legislative requirement. 

So, what does that mean?  How does the new accreditation standard affect your program?  Which association should you choose?  What is the timeline and what are the costs associated with accreditation?  These are all good questions – let us help you navigate the unknown. 

Tetra Solutions has been working with behavioral healthcare organizations, alternative schools, and therapeutic schools and programs for the last several decades.  We have helped facilities and schools develop cutting edge programs based on research and effective principles, and we have helped many programs achieve and maintain accreditation with one of the several national accrediting organizations. 

While accreditation should not require wholesale changes from your organizations, there are some important requirements for accredited programs in terms of record keeping, student and patient progress monitoring, and other ongoing compliance requirements.  Although in many instances the changes may seem subtle, they are important and, as NATSAP acknowledged when making this announcement, those changes can help set your organizations apart from non-accredited organizations, help you capture revenue you may not otherwise received, and admit patients and enroll students who may have gone elsewhere.  And, perhaps most importantly, accreditation allow you to showcase your program and prove your effectiveness. 

The determination about what national accreditation to seek depends on a number of factors unique to your program.  Similarly, the costs associated with accreditation depends on your organization’s operations and goals and can range from a several hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars.  Tetra Solutions is excited to be a resource to NATSAP members seeking answers to these questions.  We’re happy to review your program’s business operations and help you craft a plan that is both affordable and helps you achieve accreditation with the fewest changes and interruptions to your program.  You may learn more by visiting our website (, emailing us (, or giving us a call at 435.881.0396. 

About Tetra Solutions.  Tetra Solutions was started by Richard P. West, PhD, who in addition to his role at the company is an Emeritus Professor at Utah State University .  Dr. West has devoted his career to researching models of behavior support and the development of data tools for behavioral, learning and programmatic decision-making. Dr. West’s assessment tools have been used by more than 3,000 organizations and several hundred thousand respondents.  He previously served as a consultant to Father Flanagan’s Boys’ Home in Boys Town, Nebraska, and has authored six books, 14 chapters, and more than 75 articles in national journals relative to critical conditions for behavioral support.

Tetra Solutions

Prepare for Greatness! ™ – Accreditation Guru

***NATSAP has asked several accreditation consultants to write a guest blog post discussing accreditation and what it means for a program to pursue accreditation. NATSAP does not promote or refer anyone consultant or business over another. ***

NATSAP is “Guiding the Way” for its members to achieve higher standards of quality and excellence. A guiding way that takes safety and evidence-based outcomes seriously.  Compatible with its mission to serve as advocate and resource for innovative organizations providing effective care and education to young people, NATSAP is raising its accreditation expectation for all members. 

Navigating the road to accreditation requires an organization to commit to quality and safety improvement, focus on the unique needs of each person served and monitor the results of services. Achieving accreditation announces to the world that your organization strives to be the best it can be. It may involve hard work, but the process sets you on the course to cultivate a culture of excellence.   

Organizations are best served to approach accreditation as an investment in their future. It helps to raise the bar internally and creates a more stable entity.  Once achieved, an organization will have an opportunity to truly “live” accreditation by embracing and applying well-planned and clearly defined operational and program practices that will strengthen its ability to improve the lives of the people they serve.

Culture of Excellence

Without question, accreditation signals to potential funders, referral sources and parents that your organization adheres to high standards, internal cohesion and strives for exemplary service delivery.

Each accrediting body emphasizes the critical elements of performance improvement, risk management, financial controls, the rights of the persons served, and the health and safety for staff and persons served.

Gaining accreditation demonstrates your commitment to reach beyond the minimum licensing standards and maintain strong management, program consistency, financial controls, outcome measurements and continuous improvement.

Becoming accredited gives organizations professional recognition for achieving the highest standards in superior service delivery and provides clients and other key stakeholders an appropriate instrument for evaluating service provided. 

Accreditation facilitates the provision of services derived from both evidence-based and leading practices by addressing access to, knowledge of and use of these practices.  The on-site surveyors/reviewers bring with them years of experience and knowledge of evidence-based and leading practices observed in other organizations all over the country.

Other benefits include improved internal and external stakeholder communication and enriched staff training programs that, in part, lead to enhanced services.

Quality Improvement

Continuously improving organization-wide performance is the cornerstone of accreditation’s focus on safety and quality.   

Accreditation focuses organizations on continuous quality improvement and on measurement of outputs and outcomes of deliverables, which both funders and stakeholders are increasingly demanding.

Accreditation provides a framework to review and improve the critical functions of your organization such as leadership, service delivery, human resources management, safety in your physical environment, emergency planning/preparation and information management.

Financial Incentives

Accreditation can be a portal into private insurance coverage of treatment and a necessity for federal and state funding. 

Accreditation decreases risk due to the development of management plans, which in turn lowers liability. Liability insurers consider accreditation a mitigating risk factor which, in turn, can result in savings in liability insurance costs.

Roadmap to Accreditation

  1. Choose an accreditor – There are several factors to consider when selecting an accrediting body, including the fit with accreditation requirements, time necessary to become accredited and costs.
  2. Obtain a copy of the accreditation standards – Being familiar with the accreditation standards is critical to the selection and preparation process, especially when considering which of your staff will be involved and what documents are required.
  3. Decide whether to use a consultant – When it comes to navigating the accreditation process, hiring the right consultant can save time (and money).
  4. Conduct a gap analysis – This will provide information about accreditation readiness and identifies opportunities for compliance improvement.
  5. Implement new/enhanced policies, procedures and processes – All policies and procedures need to map to the accreditation standards, current operations and any other licensing or regulatory requirements.
  6. Undergo the survey – Accrediting body surveyors/reviewers are onsite at your organization to verify compliance with applicable standards.  They will conduct interviews with staff/leadership and persons served, as well as review policies/procedures, facilities and make observations of service delivery.
  7. Fix any findings– Non-compliance areas identified by surveyors/reviewers need to be corrected.

Our Prepare for Greatness!™ Support

Accreditation Guru’s objective is to efficiently guide your organization through the (re)accreditation process via a systematic, customized, strategic approach that is designed to significantly lessen stress on your staff members and stakeholders throughout the accreditation process. Our foremost goal is to assist your organization in achieving accreditation in an efficient manner.

At Accreditation Guru, our team of experts have gained valuable and actionable experience in the field (average of twenty years national accreditation experience). They know exactly what the accrediting bodies are looking for and how best to compile organization data and information.  Achieving accreditation is an involved process that can require your staff to spend less time on their day-to-day responsibilities. Using the support of an Accreditation Guru consultant ensures efficient time management with our consultants going beyond providing training functions by serving as sounding boards to answer questions from staff so no one is spinning their wheels and wasting time trying to figure out what the accreditation requirements mean.

Since our inception in 2009, Accreditation Guru has earned a 100 percent success rate for guiding organizations through the (re)accreditation process by offering the following services, among others:

  • Onsite assessment and gap analysis
  • Assistance with development of standards-compliant policies, procedures, and plans
  • Quality improvement program design and training
  • Risk management practices
  • Mock surveys and survey preparation for staff
  • Project management
  • Assistance with your post-site-visit reports
  • Annual accreditation maintenance plans

The Payoff

Far from being a chore, achieving accreditation has become a necessity for innovative organizations which devote themselves to society’s need for the effective care and education of struggling young people and their families. In addition to sending a definitive sign that quality and consistent professionalism permeate your organization’s culture, it offers tangible benefits that pay dividends every day.

Accreditation Guru, Inc. is a nationally known and respected accreditation consulting group.  We can help your organization Prepare for Greatness™ through achieving initial accreditation or maintaining your current accreditation status.  

We invite you to take our free Accreditation Readiness Assessment:

For more information, please visit our website and contact us at or 212.209.0240. 

Accreditation Consultation & Survey Preparation – Accreditation ...

Demystifying National Accreditation – PJS Connection Consulting

*** NATSAP has asked several accreditation consultants to write a guest blog post discussing accreditation and what it means for a program to pursue accreditation. NATSAP does not promote or refer anyone consultant or business over another. ***

Demystifying National Accreditation

For many behavioral healthcare organization leaders, the thought of pursuing a national accreditation can be intimidating, frightening and may even feel frustrating. If you are among those considering accreditation you may be asking yourself:

  • How will this impact the way I do business?
  • What resources will I have to allocate to this project?
  • How will my staff handle the changes?
  • What happens if we aren’t successful in our survey?

This document seeks to demystify the process of national accreditation, highlight why it will benefit your business, and, hopefully alleviate some of your concerns.

Pursuing and earning accreditation will change the way you do business…for the better!

When considering or feeling the pressure to become nationally accredited you may be thinking, “Oh great, another regulatory body dictating how we operate our business.” Although The Joint Commission (TJC), The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF), The Council on Accreditation (COA), The Association for Experiential Education (AEE) will hold your organization accountable to specific standards of compliance, they fill a different role than a governmental regulatory body. Each accreditor’s foundational purpose is to help you improve in all areas of your organization. Accreditation standards have been created by highly educated and experienced experts in order to improve our industry’s ability to treat the population we serve. Simply put, accrediting bodies want to be your partner.

You will have to make some changes to become accredited. However, the rules and guidelines provide an additional framework for best practices in the areas of clinical program effectiveness, facility safety and security, human resources, information management and much more. In other words, these changes will make your organization better suited to do business and help people.

The cost of obtaining and maintaining accreditation is an investment

One common misconception about the accreditation process is that in order to meet certain standards, you will be forced to spend more than you can afford. It is true that you will incur expenses for accreditation fees and possibly environment of care improvements, but accrediting bodies don’t want to put you out of business. There is plenty of room to work with your accrediting body’s account representative and their engineers to creatively avoid incurring unreasonable expenses. 

When you choose to pursue national accreditation, you are investing in your business and the additional opportunities that will present themselves: opportunities to improve systems, opportunities for additional referrals, and opportunities for an increase in revenue.

  • From an operations perspective, accreditation standards will help you better understand the specific ways you can be more effective in your approach.
  • Using validated tools to track progress and outcomes will undoubtably lead to higher rates of retention and better outcomes.
  • When you are accredited, more people are willing to recommend your program. Some educational consultants and referral sources will only refer to accredited organizations. Now more than ever, commercial insurance payors will not authorize out-of-network reimbursement for non-accredited programs. Bottom line, more referrals, higher retention rates, and additional insurance authorizations lead to an increase in revenue.

High quality staff appreciate higher standards of care

During my tenure as the Director of Operations at NorthStar Transitions, our Founder and President told me we would be pursuing Joint Commission Accreditation. I thought to myself, “oh great, more work on my already full plate and less time I will have to spend doing more important tasks”. Once we began to implement the standards, my mindset completely shifted. As a passionate leader I’ve always sought out ways to improve how my team and I work, and The Joint Commission exponentially increased the trajectory of our performance improvement. Personnel we employed who took ownership of their new responsibilities demonstrated previously unseen ability and contributed greater overall value.

Many of the standards shed light on areas I had never considered.

  • Our emergency response preparedness tightened up.
  • Our Human Resources process developed.
  • Our understanding of the facilities became clearer.
  • Our clinical documentation improved significantly (which by the way, from a utilization review perspective lead to an increase of authorized days insurance companies agreed to reimburse).

National accrediting bodies want you to be successful

If you operate a treatment facility, wilderness or academic program you are likely regulated in one or more capacities – whether by a state department, academic accreditor, or an association-specific accrediting body. National accrediting bodies are not the same in their approach. Surveyors will verify that you are meeting standards, but they also serve as objective consultants who provide suggestions and resources to help you improve. Of the hundreds of surveys PJS Connection Consulting has participated in, every single one has provided new insight and perspective on best practice. If you have made a dedicated effort to meet accreditation standards, you will earn your accreditation.

If you are interested in learning more about the process of national accreditation, learn more about PJS Connection Consulting.

Parker J. Smith, CAC II

PJS Connection Consulting

Founder and CEO

PJS Connection Consulting | Behavioral Health Consultants

We Are NATSAP March 2020 Edition


Checkout our latest edition of We Are NATSAP!

Click Here to view the latest edition of We Are NATSAP.

If you are interested in providing an article for the next edition of We Are NATSAP, please contact Shanita Smith at The deadline for the next edition is June 19th.

Submission criteria:

  • Article must be about a CURRENT NATSAP school/program member at the time of submission and release of newsletter. (DUE TO LIMITED SPACE, WE ARE NO LONGER ACCEPTING STAFF ANNOUNCEMENTS)
  • Please submit texts in MS Word, Rich Text Format (RTF), or WordPerfect. If submitting from a Macintosh computer, please include the three-letter file extension in the file name of your article. PDF files are not acceptable.
  • Images should be in .jpg, .png or .tif format. (Please include at least one image.)

Articles should be at least 450 words in length and include a title. (Title of article is not included in word count.)

An e-mail message with the article as an attachment should be sent to
Please use “We Are NATSAP – Submission” as the subject in the email address block.




NATSAP and the Coronavirus

With Coronavirus (COVID-19) very much on everyone’s minds these days, we wanted to share the following information with you:

Absent federal travel restrictions and/or local, state, or regional decisions to close venues, NATSAP has not canceled any of its upcoming regional conferences. During these events, we commit to maintaining all appropriate sanitary, health, and safety measures and encourage attendees to follow guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization. If there are any changes to event schedules, we will provide information to registrants about virtual options that may be available and/or other refund/credit specific details.

At this time, NATSAP has moved the May DC Fly-In to September. More information on this event will be available soon.

At NATSAP conferences:

  • The hotels will be thoroughly sanitizing all conference areas (tables, chairs, door handles…)
  • Depending upon the venue and weather, we hope to utilize conference rooms with outside access and we will be keeping doors open.
  • We will be working with the hotels on food options. We hope to not offer any food in a buffet style service, all food will be individually packaged.
  • The registration desk will feature hand sanitizer stations.
  • Although this is the “huggiest” group of people I have ever met, we will need to replace those hugs with smiles and hand waves.

NATSAP is currently crowdsourcing best practices for programs regarding pre-screening, family seminars, home visits, and staff coverage through a google doc that was sent to program members last week. If you are a NATSAP member and would like the google doc link, please e-mail

We will be hosting a webinar at 2pm eastern on Wednesday March 18th for NATSAP Program Members.

We will be hosting a webinar at 2pm eastern on Thursday March 19th for NATSAP Individual Professional Members.

An e-mail with the log in information will be sent out directly to members. A recording of the webinars will be made available for those who are unable to attend.

The NATSAP Home Office Staff will be working remotely starting Monday March 16th. While we do not foresee any interruption to the services that we provide members, we wanted you to be aware.


Dashboard for tracking COVID-19:

Center for Disease Control and Prevention:

World Health Organization:

If you have any questions or comments, please reach out to


Megan Stokes and the NATSAP Home Office.