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

  • Access to resources. NAEYC and NAFCC both provide resources based on the latest research for accredited providers.
  • Mark of quality. Accreditation is an achievement you and your staff can be proud of. Use it in your marketing to families so they know you’re dedicated to high-quality care.
  • 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)

Accreditation fees

OEC currently covers the NAEYC accreditation fee for center-based providers — and we expect that will continue for the foreseeable future.

We’re working toward a similar arrangement for NAFCC accreditation fees for family child care providers.  

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 July 19, 2023