Why get accredited?

Accreditation is a national, voluntary process based on standards defined by experts in the early childhood field. The Office of Early Childhood (OEC) requires accreditation for sites that we provide with direct funding. 

We strongly encourage all programs to become accredited. It means you’re going above and beyond — a sign that you’re aiming to provide the highest quality care.

What accreditation means

Accreditation means your program meets national standards for child care. These standards are based on research and best practices. The accrediting organization will also send trained observers to confirm your performance.

OEC recognizes accreditation through these national organizations:

  • For center-based care: NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children)
  • For family child care: NAFCC (National Association for Family Child Care)

Head Start programs are also considered approved or “accredited” and can become a Member Accredited in Elevate. Head Start programs are administered by the Office of Head Start (OHS)

We may recognize more accrediting organizations in the future.

Benefits of getting accredited

  • Financial incentives through Care 4 Kids. If you’re a Care 4 Kids provider, accreditation gets you additional money. The specifics depend on the type of provider you are.
    • Center-based programs: 25% increase in payments
    • Family child care providers: $750 bonus and 7% increase in payments (as negotiated in the SEIU contract)
  • Funding for professional learning. The OEC offers incentives for higher education opportunities, including Qualified Workforce Incentives and the OEC Scholarship Program-to prepare program staff to meet NAEYC staff qualifications for accreditation.
  • Individualized support. Programs working toward or maintaining NAEYC accreditation can apply for individualized quality improvement support. Accepted programs are matched to a technical assistance providers, also called an AQIS facilitator.

Accreditation fees

OEC currently covers the NAEYC accreditation fee for center-based providers and the NAFCC accreditation fee for family child care providers. We expect this to continue for the foreseeable future.

Center-based providers can follow the easy steps in these instructions. There are no forms to complete. NAEYC will automatically initiate a reimbursement for payments made during the covered time.

Family child care providers can apply for fee reimbursement through their Staffed Family Child Care Network. Complete the easy online form to apply!

Learn more about accreditation

If you’re interested in pursuing accreditation, we can help.

  • Talk to an OEC Service Navigator. Our trained Service Navigators can answer questions about accreditation and help you decide on your next steps. Find your Service Navigator.
  • Connect with a Staffed Family Child Care Network. Family child care providers can access a Staffed Family Child Care Network to get guidance on accreditation. Find the network in your area.
  • Check out AQIS (if you’re a center-based provider). It’s a special component of Elevate that focuses on helping providers explore accreditation. Learn about AQIS.
Last updated March 11, 2024