An introduction to CRAs and their missions

In 1999, 4 pilot CRAs were created in 4 French regions (Champagne-Ardenne, Bretagne – Pays de la Loire, Languedoc Roussillon and Centre).

Following a positive assessment of these 4 pilot centres, they were generalised across the country as part of the first National Autism Plan (2005-2007) with the setting-up of one centre in each region. In 2005, they were brought together under one umbrella body, the Association of Autism Resource Centres (ANCRA), which has since then been disbanded.

CRAs are health and social care facilities that are authorised and funded by Regional Health Agencies (ARS) and run by a multi-disciplinary team specialised in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). There are currently 26 CRAs in mainland France and French overseas territories. They have been brought together under one umbrella body, the GNCRA, since 2017.

CRAs do not directly provide care but they play a part in care provision together with the health and social care systems in their region.

Since the Third National Autism Plan (2013-2017), CRAs have been at the heart of the threefold strategy “Detection – Diagnosis – Early action” set up according to the terms and conditions specific to each region and in cooperation with a network of stakeholders active in detection, diagnosis and support and in association with family representatives. Local branches are being created more and more to spread CRA action as close as possible to people on the ground.


The first missions of CRAs were laid out in the circular dated 8 March 2005.

In 2017, pursuant to the Decree dated 5 May, 10 missions were defined, together with the minimum technical requirements in terms of organisation and operations:

  • Reception, counselling, information and guidance
  • Promoting and disseminating guidelines on best practices, and updated information on ASD
  • Providing support and expert advice on diagnostic and functional assessments and carrying out such assessments for complex cases
  • Awareness campaigns or training for family caregivers and professionals
  • Support to MDPH teams
  • Contributing to scientific and regulatory monitoring and brainstorming on professional practices
  • Participating in studies and research
  • Participating in coordinating regional networks of stakeholders
  • Contributing expertise and advice to Regional Health Agencies (ARS), local government services and local authorities
  • Providing expertise and advice to national and international bodies active on ASD

Target audience

CRAs are aimed at any person affected by or interested in ASD:

  • Children, teenagers and adults with ASD
  • Families, parents, caregivers
  • Professionals in the health sector, in support, MDPH, Education, universities, etc.
  • Anybody interested in ASD
User input and health democracy: Strategic Guidance Committees (COS)

The decree dated 5 May 2017 gives a legal framework to the creation of Strategic Guidance Committees (COS) within CRAs

COS meet at least 3 times a year. They can give an opinion and make propositions on the activities and operating of a CRA, the quality of service provision and how to improve it

COS must be consulted when : setting up multi-disciplinary teams attached to the CRA; drafting and modifying internal rules and the CRA mission statement; conducting satisfaction questionnaires with users including individuals, families and professionals or when taking any other action to get their feedback; drafting the activity report of the CRA they belong to.

Each COS includes:

  • A committee representing people with ASD and their families
  • A committee representing professionals
  • A CRA representative

The Strategic Guidance Committees (COS) enable permanent consultation of people with ASD and their families on the way CRAs operate. It is a forum for the community of stakeholders in the field of ASD to be heard and for users to be represented

How to join a CRA Strategic Guidance Committee (COS)?

Any user may join a COS by responding to a call for applications launched by the Regional Health Agency (ARS) in their local area.