ATC 2020 Accreditation Standards

Since 1989, the National Office for Adult & Teen Challenge has provided Accreditation Standards and regular compliance reviews to help guide centers towards one common goal: Excellence! Please review the following information to prepare for the online and on-site Accreditation Review processes.

Goals of Accreditation

  1. To keep ATC unified, dedicated to providing excellent care to all individuals/families seeking help, and to protect the God-given vision, identity, and DNA of the organization.   
  2. To provide a comprehensive review and follow-up process that ensures quality and consistency in all Teen Challenge affiliates with minimal direct oversight from ATCHQ.

Preparing for an Accreditation Review

The 2020-21 Accreditation Certification Categories

  1. Accredited — Valid for three years. This center meets ATCHQ National Accreditation standards and is considered compliant and in “good-standing.”
  2. Provisional — Valid for one year. A Provisional Certificate is given for one of two reasons:
    • Provisional Accreditation is provided to new ATC programs who are working to prepare for their first accreditation review. A provisional certificate is valid for 12-18 months. Following the provisional period, a review resulting in full accreditation must be achieved.
    • Provisional Accreditation can be provided at the discretion of ATCHQ if a center falls short of full compliance. A re-inspection must be conducted within 6-months resulting in the status of PASS. If a center fails to obtain full accreditation, it risks becoming non-accredited. The re-inspection will be done at the full expense (travel, hotel, transportation, meals, and time) of the TC center/corporation that failed.
  3. Non-accredited – The organization has major deficiencies in several areas of the national standards.  The affiliate has failed to assure the welfare or safety of ATC students and/or the organization has failed to bring its program or properties into substantial conformance to the standards; or the organization has failed to satisfy one or more of the ATCHQ. 

Note: Accreditation Review timeframe (currently every three years) is subject to change. 

If it becomes apparent that a center is not going to bring itself into compliance with one or more mandatory standards, ATCHQ has been directed to notify the center’s BOD in writing providing the center with a timeframe within which compliance must be achieved.  If compliance is not achieved following the aforesaid timeframe, regrettably, a recommendation to pull the center’s affiliation with ATCHQ will be made at the subsequent ATCHQ BOD meeting.  

How Compliance is Verified

Beginning in 2020, the Accreditation Review will be conducted using both an online and on-site component. Both components are required. The review will begin online and conclude with the on-site visit shortly following the completion of the online component. Please note that reviewers will also interview staff or students at the center to verify compliance in various areas.

  1. Online: Approximately 2 months before the scheduled on-site visit, ATCHQ will enroll a representative from the center’s Administrative Office and the local Program Director (or designee) into the Accreditation Pre-Check Course on Bridge, the National Office’s Learning Management System (LMS). The Administrative Office representative will be responsible for Indicators traditionally provided to ATCHQ by a central office (governance, HR, BOD, etc.), while the Program Director will be responsible for completing the pre-check uploads regarding residential operations, ATC DNA, etc.. Each representative will be enrolled in a course that presents specific indicators requiring uploads. Both components are required in order for the local center to pass the Accreditation Review. It will be the Program Director’s responsibility to assure that both courses are completed no later than 2 weeks before the scheduled on-site visit. Communication between the local program and the administrative office will be very important. 
  2. On-Site: After the completion of the online pre-check course, a team of two reviewers will arrive on location to continue the review. The reviewers will tour the facilities to complete the inspection. The on-site items of interest are located on the “on-site checklist” for review. 
  3. Observation: When the review team is on-site they will ask to see examples of how the center is practically walking out policies and procedures. Please be prepared to show the team how your center is meeting the standards within day-to-day operations and interactions with students, staff, volunteers, etc. It may be necessary for items typically housed off-site (administrative office, etc.) to be present on-site for observation. The Program Director is responsible for assuring evidence required for on-site review is present at the time of the appointment. Copies are acceptable.
  4. Interview: The review team will request to interview students, staff, and if necessary, volunteers while on-site. Interviews help to verify compliance to policies and procedures, while also giving the review team an opportunity to assist center leadership in gauging the understanding of the local team regarding center operation and vision. Interviews are confidential.

Important Recommendations

  1. Read through the Accreditation Standards and Indicators to familiarize yourself and your staff with them.
  2. Communicate with your administration office if your center needs information from a central location to provide evidence for Indicators regarding HR, BOD, and Fiscal Management. There is required information that may be stored at your administration office. All centers are responsible for obtaining and uploading documentation that may have been provided by a central location in previous reviews.   
  3. Print a copy of the Accreditation Standards and conduct a self-inspection using the checkboxes provided on the document next to each piece of evidence. 

Reminder: The Adult & Teen Challenge being reviewed will reimburse the National Office for the cost of 1 night’s lodging for each reviewer. ATCHQ will send an invoice following the completion of the review.

For affiliates needing a copy of the accreditation standards, please email a request to