Child Care Accreditation


Each state has guidelines and regulations regarding child care centers and home based daycares. The guidelines and regulations are determined and supervised by local and state agencies.

Parents are encouraged to use licensing regulations to assess the quality of care provided by a particular center. To view the regulations or to check a facility’s license, visit the licensing page for that state.

Some centers and organizations voluntarily submit to an accreditation process. Accredited centers must provide qualifications beyond licensing regulations. These facilities provide a higher level of child care, which includes a higher level of attention to educational activities to promote development, growth and school preparedness.

To become accredited, administration and staff undergo a self-study program that provides education regarding necessary curriculum, documentation, health and safety standards, policies and procedures and ongoing staff education. The education process is followed by a request for evaluation by an accrediting organization. A child care expert from the organization reviews criteria based on the self-study program requirements and the environment, relationships between staff and children and the relationship between staff and parents. Once the assessment is complete, the facility receives the organization’s determination.

The continuous education caregivers receive provides education in child development. Children at various ages require different types of care and educational activities. Education equips caregivers with necessary knowledge, which enables staff to provide children with the appropriate care and level of activity for a particular age.

Some accrediting organizations require certain stipulations before a child care center qualifies for accreditation. These requirements include the length of time a facility has been in operation, the length of time an administrator has worked with the facility, the minimum number of children enrolled in the program and the length of time the facility has been going through the self-study process.

Each type of child care setting can apply for accreditation through an organization specializing in that particular environment. The list of accrediting organizations includes:

  1. National Association for the Education of Young Children

    The organization assesses program quality in the following areas:

    • Curriculum
    • Health and safety
    • Interaction between staff and children
    • Interaction between staff and parents
    • Nutrition and food service
    • Program evaluation
    • Physical environment
    • Staff qualifications and development
    • Staff ratios
  2. National Accreditation Commission

    Certain requirements apply before a facility undergoes the accreditation process.

    • The facility must be engaged in the self-study process for a minimum of six months.
    • The facility must be operational for at least one year prior to a request for accreditation.
    • There must be a minimum of 15 children enrolled in the program.
    • The administrator has been employed at the facility for at least 6 months and is actively involved in the self-study process.
    • The facility’s self-study program has not expired.
  3. National Early Childhood Program Accreditation

    The organization assesses program quality in the following areas:

    • Administrative and general operations
    • Administrative relationships with parents and community
    • Development programs
    • Health and safety
    • Indoor/outdoor physical environment
    • Links with formal schools
    • Relationships between children and staff
    • Staff ratios
    • Staff education and work environment

    The NECPA requires a facility to be operational for not less than one year prior to seeking accreditation and also strongly recommends the use of the NECPA Standards publication. The majority of children must be aged 8 and under when educational curriculum is used. Accreditation must be renewed every three years.

  4. National After School Association

    The organization assesses program quality according to 144 standards categorized under the following general groups:

    • Activities
    • Administration
    • Health, Safety and Nutrition
    • Human Relationships
    • Indoor environment
    • Outdoor environment
  5. National Association for Family Child Care

    The organization represents family and group family child care home providers. The NAFCC assesses program quality based on 6 categories:

    • Activities
    • Environment
    • Developmental learning goals
    • Health and safety
    • Professional and business practices
    • Relationships
  6. Council for Professional Recognition

    The organization requires 6 goals be met in 12 different areas before a caregiver qualifies for accreditation. These standards are the same for all care giving environments.

    • Advance physical and intellectual competence
    • Ensure a functional, purposeful program designed to meet the children’s needs
    • Establish and maintain a healthy, safe learning environment
    • Establish positive and productive relationships with families
    • Maintain professionalism
    • Support emotional and social development and provide positive guidance

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