The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC – pronounced nay-see) was one of the first to provide early learning program accreditation. For over 30 years, the NAEYC has been offering accreditation services, and the certification is flexible enough to be granted in a broad range of early childhood setting such as center-based, family home, ministry, or faith-based to name a few. To achieve NAYEC Accreditation, there is a four-step process that will involve self-reflection as well as quality improvement to meet and maintain accreditation for five years.
Early Childhood programs must meet standards that are grouped into ten fields which consists of the following: curriculum, relationships with children, teaching approaches, child assessment, staff qualifications, nutrition, and health, relationships with children’s families, relationship with the community, the physical environment and program management, and leadership.
The accreditation process looks entirely different for each program; however, the standards do not change from program to program. It’s the path to execution that’s personalized for each center that is seeking accreditation. They take into account a variety of factors like available resources and geographic location. Still, one element of the process that always stays the same for all programs is their continuous support.
The NAEYC is committed to offering cooperative guidance to any and all centers through this accreditation process. In addition to support on the national-level centers that are pursuing accreditation also have access to accreditation facilitation projects (AFPS). For every participating state AFP’s provide all technical assistance led by experts to programs that are working toward getting NAEYC Accreditation.
Here’s How To Get Started:
Phase 1. Register and Self-Study
All programs that are interested in developing a high-quality early childhood learning environment and experiences for younger children and their families can register and conduct a self-study. The self-study is for programs to strengthen their understanding of what quality standards in addition to beginning to identify the strengths and areas that are needing attention within their programs.
When you are ready to enroll and conduct a self-study, please you will complete the following:
- Register and create a free account that located in the Accreditation Portal
- Complete the enrollment and submit the fee
- Once your program is approved, you should get prepared to advance to Stage 2 (Apply and Self-Assess) at any time within 12 months
Phase 2. Apply and Perform A Self-Assessment
In this next step, programs will apply and perform a self-assessment to document evidence that they are meeting high-quality standards. When programs carry this action out, they celebrate what their strengths are and then address any areas that require more attention.
When you are ready to apply and conduct a self-assessment, you will complete the following:
- Log in here to the Accreditation Portal
- Complete the application and submit the fee
- Once your program is approved, you will then prepare to advance to phase 3 (Candidate for Sit Visit) at any time within 12 months
Phase 3. Candidate For Site Visit
For the programs that have reached this phase, they will have a deep understanding of the high-quality standards. These programs will be able to provide strong evidence that their environment, practices, and policies are aligned with the standards. This is when a program will be ready to host an accreditation site visit.
Decision For Accreditation
All the data that’s collected from the program records and the site visit will be used to make a decision for accreditation. The council for NAEYC Early Learning Program Accreditation administers all accreditation decisions by reviewing, regulating, and overseeing the accreditation standards and policies. Within three months of the site visit, all programs will be provided with an Accreditation Decision report with one of the following accreditation decisions.
Accredited For A Five Year Term
- This means your program met 70% of the assessment items that were measured for each standard, and
- Your program met 100% of the assessment items that were required, and
- Each class that was chosen to be assessed met 70% of the assessment items that were measured
- This means your program met less than 70% of the assessment items that were measured for each standard, and/or
- Your program failed to meet 100% of the assessment items that were required, and/or
- Each class that was chosen to be accessed did not meet 70% of the assessment items that were measured
When your program is deferred, you have two choices.
- Programs that are deferred can appeal the decision. Please see the Decision Appeals Policy for more information
- Programs that are deferred will automatically be sent back to Phase 2, where they will have to continue the process at a pace that will work for them. Depending on how quickly a program can complete the necessary steps in the Accreditation Portal and the availability of NAEYC assessors will reflect on the acceleration of a site visit
Phase 4: Maintaining Program Accreditation
Accreditation displays both a commitment to quality as well as continuous quality improvement of your program. Accredited programs continuously make sure that their environment, practices, and policies are aligned with the standards.
Programs that are accredited will maintain their accreditation status by:
- Sticking to accreditation policies
- Continuing to meet all accreditation standards and assessment items.
- Randomly, 10% of accredited programs are randomly assessed via a site visit
- Reporting all incidents and major changed to NAEYC. Verification of evidence with or without a site visit to the program may be needed depending on the nature of the change
- Submitting Annual Reports with fees
When programs submit Annual Report 3, they should begin to reexamine their evidence and be prepared for a renewal visit once they submit Annual Report 4.