START Program Certification

START programs obtain certification through a rigorous review by the National Center for START ServicesTMQuality Assurance Department. Throughout the process, NCSS reviewers utilize quality assurance tools to ensure fidelity to START program certification standards, provide guidance, identify training needs, and promote reliability and consistency across the National START Network. 

Type of program certification is  based on the services offered:

  • Clinical Team Plus: A program certified in both clinical team services and therapeutic supports (resource center, therapeutic coaching, or both) to either adults (18+), children (6-21), or lifespan (6+).
  • Clinical Team: A program certified in clinical team services only, serving adults, children, or lifespan.

Preparation to achieve all START model competency areas begins during the initial program implementation phase. During years 3-4 of operation, a mastery of START practices is demonstrated and programs typically begin preparing for the program certification application process.

  • NCSS project facilitator provides technical assistance (in-person and/or virtual visits) based on contractual agreements
  • Program staff receives training, coaching, and coordinator certification support from NCSS

  • START program director begins program certification preparation with assistance from NCSS project facilitator and QA department

  • NCSS direct involvement wanes; project facilitators conduct practice certification reviews
  • Programs submit Certification Application narrative at least 4 months prior to scheduled on-site review and application attachments 30 days prior to on-site review
  • On-site review conducted by one or more members of NCSS Program Certification Review Board. The NCSS Reviewer(s) is accompanied by assigned project facilitator.

  • Programs receive 2-year certification based on outcome of on-site review
  • Initial program on-site review concludes with corrective action recommendations expected to be submitted to NCSS.
  • The team can expect annual visits by NCSS staff. The visits will either be QA reviews or certification renewal (every two years) visits.