Accreditation is another way to judge the quality of a child care program. Early
childhood programs can choose to obtain accreditation by a child care
accrediting organization, but they have to meet higher standards than
licensing regulations. The program must offer the kind of care, attention,
and educational activities parents look for in high-quality child care
programs. It must offer activities and experiences that will aid in a
child's growth and development and that will help them prepare for
To become accredited, the program staff rate the program's strengths and
weaknesses. Then, a professional child care expert observes the
program, and finally, the program is reviewed. Input from parents is
often included. Some of the items reviewed are: relationships
between staff and parents; curriculum offered; staff training; health
and safety standards followed and the environment of the program. After review of these items, the child care program gets feedback on
how they match up to the accrediting organization's expectations and
A number of organizations have developed accreditation systems to
recognize early care and education programs that generally meet higher
standards than are required by State regulations. The following is a
sample of national accreditation systems for early care and education
programs, listed in alphabetical order.
Accredited Professional Preschool Learning Environment (APPLE)
Florida Association for Child Care Management (FACCM)
Phone: 850-222-9923 or 800-322-2603
APPLE is a voluntary accreditation program with a two step
accreditation process. A self study is followed by a verification
visit, which is an evaluation of the indicators of quality in each
individual program. All components of a program are examined including
the following: administration, classroom environment, parent and
community involvement, advocacy on behalf of children and child care,
staffing credentials, staff-child ratios, teacher/child interaction,
and literacy and curriculum. Previously, this accreditation was only
available to members of FACCM; however, that requirement has been
eliminated and it now has a national scope.
APPLE also has a school-age endorsement called APPLE SAUCE. Only
programs with both school-age and preschool components can apply. It is
not for stand-alone, school-age programs.
American Montessori Society (AMS)
AMS is an organization whose membership includes schools, teacher
education programs, teachers, parents, and other interested persons.
AMS Accreditation is a voluntary process undertaken by schools. Through
a self-study and documentation process a school defines itself in terms
of strengths and areas that need improvement. Information about AMS
Accreditation is available on the Web and includes the AMS Accreditation School Handbook.
Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI)
Early Education Services
Phone: 719-528-6906, ext. 228
ACSI is a nonprofit organization, founded in 1978 through a merger
of three Christian school associations. Programs and services are
designed to assist Christian schools at every grade level, including
early education and higher education. Information about ACSI
accreditation is available on the Web.
Council on Accreditation (COA)
Phone: 212-797-3000 or 866-COA-8088
COA is an international, independent, nonprofit, child and family
service and behavioral healthcare accrediting organization. Founded in
1977 by the Child Welfare League of America and Family Service America,
COA partners with human service organizations worldwide to improve
service delivery outcomes by developing, applying, and promoting
accreditation standards. Originally known as an accrediting body for
family and children’s agencies, COA now accredits 38 different service
areas, including substance abuse treatment, adult day care, services
for the homeless, foster care, and inter-country adoption.
COA’s accreditation process involves a detailed review and analysis
of an organization’s administrative operations and service delivery
against national standards. COA has a set of standards specifically for
early child care and development services, child care centers, and
family child care homes. Information about these standards is available on the Web.
National Accreditation Commission for Early Care and Education Programs (NAC)
National Association of Child Care Professionals (NACCP)
Phone: 512-301-5557 or 800-537-1118
NACCP is a membership organization for child care owners, directors,
and administrators, and it manages NAC. The NAC standards, which cover
children birth through school-age, include the following components:
program philosophy and goals, health and safety, administration, parent
communication, curriculum, and interaction between staff and children.
Additional information about NAC is available on the Web.
National Accreditation Council for Early Childhood Professional Personnel and Programs (NACECPPP)
Child Care Institute of America
NACECPPP is a national, nonprofit organization established in
response to needs identified by the center-based, private-licensed, and
religious early childhood community nationwide under the sponsorship of
the Child Care Institute of America, a national association
representing that community.
National AfterSchool Association (NAA)
NAA (formerly the National School-Age Care Alliance), founded in
1987, is a professional association with membership that includes more
than 7,000 practitioners, policy-makers, and administrators
representing all public, private, and community-based sectors of
after-school and out-of-school time programs, as well as school-age and
after-school programs on military bases, both domestic and
international. NAA provides a voice for the after-school profession,
and is dedicated to the development, education, and care of children
and youth during their out-of-school hours.
National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)
NAEYC Academy for Early Childhood Program Accreditation
Phone: 202-232-8777 or 800-424-2460
Founded in 1926, NAEYC is the world’s largest organization working
on behalf of young children with more than 100,000 members and a
national network of nearly 450 local, State, and regional NAEYC
Affiliates. In 1985, NAEYC established a national, voluntary
accreditation system to set professional standards for early childhood
education programs and to help families identify high-quality programs.
The accreditation system is administered by the NAEYC Academy for Early
Childhood Program Accreditation.
The NAEYC Accreditation Criteria address all aspects of an early
childhood program, including interactions among teachers and children,
curriculum, interactions among teachers and families, administration,
staff qualifications and professional development, staffing patterns,
physical environment, health and safety, nutrition and food service,
and program evaluation. Significant growth in and demands on the
accreditation system led the NAEYC Governing Board to establish a
project to reinvent accreditation. This was done by developing new
program standards, criteria, and assessment procedures and by taking
immediate steps to improve the reliability and accountability of the
system while better managing the demand for accreditation. Full
implementation of the new accreditation system took place in Fall 2006.
National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC)
NAFCC is a national membership organization working with more than
400 State and local family child care provider associations across the
United States. The mission of NAFCC is to support the profession of
family child care and to encourage high-quality care for children. The
focus of NAFCC is to provide technical assistance to family child care
associations. This assistance is provided through developing
leadership, addressing issues of diversity, and promoting quality and
professionalism through NAFCC’s Family Child Care Accreditation.
Accreditation was designed to promote and recognize high-quality,
professional family child care. NAFCC Accreditation standards cover the
following content areas: relationships, environment, activities,
developmental learning goals, safety and health, and professional and
National Early Childhood Program Accreditation (NECPA)
The NECPA Commission, Inc.
NECPA is a voluntary accreditation system for programs serving
children ages birth to five years. The NECPA program is an Automated
Accreditation Indicator System (AAIS). This system and the instrument
itself were developed by Richard Fiene, in conjunction with the Early
Childhood Education Programs Department of Pennsylvania State
University at Harrisburg. The NECPA self-assessment instrument is based
on criteria in the following component areas: administration and
general operations, professional development and work environment,
indoor environment, outdoor environment, developmental programs, parent
and community involvement, formal school linkages, and health and
National Lutheran School Accreditation (NLSA)
Phone: 314-965-9000 or 888-843-5267
NLSA is available for every school operated by a single
congregation, by an association of congregations, or by a Recognized
Service Organization of the Lutheran Church. NLSA is a national
accrediting process designed to evaluate schools based on their unique
purpose as Lutheran schools. NLSA is for early childhood, elementary,
and secondary schools. The NLSA Standards Manual is available on the Web.