What Is an Accredited Child Care Center

Accreditation of a child care center is a voluntary self-study, approved by the National Academy of Early Childhood Programs, a division of the National Association for Education for Young Children (NAEYC).

The process takes at least six months, costs several hundred dollars and covers 10 criteria, including:

  • interactions among staff and children
  • curriculum
  • staff and parent interaction
  • administration
  • staff qualifications and development
  • staffing patterns
  • physical environment
  • health and safety
  • nutrition and food service
  • program evaluation

It includes parent questionnaires and records of observations made by the center's director and staff. In addition, an NAEYC reviewer visits the center.

Once a center becomes accredited, improvements must continue to be made in order to keep accreditation. Approximately 85 percent of the centers that complete the process are granted accreditation. Those that are not successful are eligible to try again.

Childcare program directors agree that there is no need to view unaccredited centers negatively, but the completion of the accreditation process does tell the public that the center took the time and expense to go through a detailed process in order to improve its quality.

© Parenthood.com, used with permission.

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