Why get accredited?

The Office of Early Childhood (OEC) licenses child care programs to make sure they’re safe places for children to learn and grow.

Accreditation is a national, voluntary process based on standards defined by national experts in the early childhood field. OEC requires accreditation for sites that receive funding directly from us. We strongly encourage all programs to become accredited. It means you’re going above and beyond — a sign that you’re aiming for the highest level of quality in the care you provide.

What accreditation means

Accreditation means your program meets national standards for child care. These standards are based on research and best practices.

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

We may recognize additional accreditation providers 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. Meeting national accreditation standards is an achievement you and your staff can be proud of. It means your program meets the highest national standards and that your performance is verified by trained observers from a national accrediting organization. Showcase your accomplishment in marketing to families. Let them know that you’re dedicated to improving the quality of the care you offer.
  • 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 on an agreement with NAFCC about family child care accreditation fees.  

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 our Quality Improvement System that focuses on helping providers explore accreditation. Learn about AQIS.
Last updated August 31, 2022