NAEYC Accreditation of Early Learning Programs provides a transformative quality-improvement system—a rigorous process programs can engage in to meet the highest program standards for quality early learning. While NAEYC Accreditation follows a four-step process toward achieving accreditation, that process may look different for each program. NAEYC individualizes the process to ensure that your program always strives for continuous quality improvement in a way that works for your staff, the children, and their families.
Programs pursuing initial accreditation must complete four steps:
Step 1: Enroll and Conduct Self-Study
During Step 1, your program submits an initial enrollment form and fee to access NAEYC’s self-study materials. Using these materials, you will begin collaborating with program staff, families, and other stakeholders to better understand your program’s current landscape, strengths, and challenges. From there, you will plan your program’s individual accreditation timeline, and proceed to Step 2.
Step 2: Apply and Conduct Self-Assessment
In the second step of pursuing NAEYC Accreditation, your program collects formal evidence to show how it meets NAEYC’s 10 Early Learning Program Standards. You must submit your formal program application and associated fee to commit your program to an accreditation timeline. You and your colleagues will begin assembling your program’s five sources of evidence, which are intended to demonstrate comprehensive program understanding and implementation of the program standards.
Step 3: Candidacy
Demonstrate key components displayed by high-quality programs and show preparedness for the site visit
Eight weeks before starting Step 3, your program will receive access to its candidacy materials—a packet of essential program information. These must be completed and turned in by your selected candidacy due date. After filing the candidacy materials, your program will have entered Step 3. Continue fine-tuning your evidence and making program improvements in anticipation of the program site visit.
Step 4: Meeting the NAEYC Program Standards
Demonstrate how your program meets the program standards by having an NAEYC assessor observe and review evidence collected in self-assessment. Site visits are conducted within six months of your candidacy due date.
Once your program receives notification that the candidacy materials have been approved, you will connect with your assigned assessor to provide exclusion dates when a site visit would not be possible. You will then be notified of a 15-day window in which the site visit will occur. You will receive confrimation of the site visit one business day before the visit. On the day of the visit, the assessor will evaluate all of your program’s evidence supporting NAEYC’s 10 Early Learning Program Standards, conduct classroom and facility observations, and ask any remaining questions. Once the assessor completes the site visit, you will receive notification of your final accreditation decision within 90 days.
Learn more about Step 4