Write Clear Eligibility Descriptions

Learn how to write effective eligibility descriptions.

Rachel Shelswell avatar
Written by Rachel Shelswell
Updated over a week ago

The eligibility field within a listing is where you can be crystal clear about what qualities attendees to your program must or must not have. 

If a referral is submitted online through Caredove, the referrer must indicate if these criteria have or have not been met. Eligibility criteria are answered in the affirmative, with the following answers: Yes; No/Unsure. If No/Unsure is selected, a warning message appears to the referrer and they are asked to submit a comment. 

There are two types of eligibility criteria: inclusion and exclusion.

Inclusion criteria are factors that registrants must have in order to qualify.
Exclusion criteria are factors that registrants must not have to qualify.


  1. Keep it brief. The fewer sentences the better. Use lists if needed.

  2. Indicate conditions or diseases that your program is exclusively for, as needed. (e.g., people with diabetes, dementia, hearing loss etc.)

  3. Use the "Age Range" field to indicate age requirements

  4. Include "and/or" in the sentence if registrants need to meet at least one of the listed criteria, but not all of them.


  • Inclusion: Must have a chronic condition

  • Exclusion: Non-smoker

  • "Or": Must have at least one of the following: chronic condition, developmental disability, autism spectrum diagnosis


  1. Don’t say the registrant needs to be “motivated” or “must desire” to attend the program. This does not help to differentiate your program against any other program.

  2. Don’t indicate where a person needs to live to attend the program. Normally, this can be conveyed by the service area map in the service description. Other times, if a person is willing to travel, agencies will serve them.

  3. Don’t convey the benefits of the program with the eligibility field. This can be done in the service description.

  4. Don’t try to do too much. If you find yourself sharing more than 5 criteria, you may want to revisit some of these. Consider saving some of the criteria for when you do an initial assessment.

Pro Tip: Look at the eligibility requirements of other similar programs in your area and build on the strengths of the clearest ones out there.

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