NAEYC's Four Stage Accreditation Process

Stage 1: Enroll and Self-Study

Any program interested in creating a high-quality early learning environment and experiences for young children and their families can enroll and conduct a self-study. Programs enroll in self-study to deepen their understanding of quality standards and begin to identify strengths and areas needing attention.

Programs in this stage of the process receive:
  • Self-study tools, tips, and planning guides
  • Trainings and webinars
  • Official documentation to acknowledge status 
Ready to enroll and conduct a self-study?
  • Register and create a free account in the Accreditation Portal
  • Complete the enrollment and submit fee
  • Once approved, prepare to advance to Stage 2 (Apply and Self-Assess) anytime within 12 months

Stage 2. Apply and Self-Assess

Programs apply and self-assess to document evidence of meeting high-quality standards. In doing so, programs celebrate their strengths and address areas needing more attention. They ensure that the standards are part of their daily practices. Programs in this stage are actively preparing evidence for an accreditation site visit. They also demonstrate that they meet the accreditation eligibility requirements.  

Programs in this stage of the process receive:
  • Self-assessment tools, tips, and planning guides
  • Site visit preparation tools, tips, and planning guides
  • Trainings and webinars
  • Official documentation to acknowledge status 
Ready to apply and conduct a self-assessment?
  • Log in the Accreditation Portal
  • Complete application and submit fee
  • Once approved, prepare to advance to Stage 3 (Candidate for Site Visit) anytime within 12 months 

Stage 3. Candidate for Site Visit

Programs in this stage have a strong understanding of the high-quality standards. They have conducted a rigorous self-assessment and can provide strong evidence that their environment, policies, and practices are aligned with the standards. These programs are prepared to host an accreditation site visit.

Programs in this stage of the process receive:
  • Self-assessment tools, tips, and planning guides
  • Site visit preparation tools, tips, and planning guides
  • Trainings and webinars
  • Official documentation to acknowledge status 

Site Visit Overview

The NAEYC accreditation site visit provides an independent assessment of program quality by an assessor who has been rigorously trained to provide a reliable rating of the program.  Once an assessor is assigned to your program, he/she will contact the program administrators to plan the visit. Beginning November 5, 2018, the majority of the communication with NAEYC assessors will occur within the Accreditation Portal.

For more details review the site visit protocol and the administrator information packet.

Accreditation Decisions

Data from the program records and the site visit will be used to make an accreditation decision. The Council for NAEYC Early Learning Program Accreditation oversees accreditation decisions by determining, reviewing and overseeing the accreditation standards and policies. Programs will receive their Accreditation Decision Report within three months of the site visit with one of the following accreditation decisions. 

Accredited for a Five Year Term

  • Program met 70% of the assessment items measured for each standard, and
  • Program met 100% of required assessment items, and
  • Each class selected to be assessed met 70% of the assessment items measured

Deferred 

  • Program met less than 70% of the assessment items measured for each standard, and/or
  • Program did not meet 100% of required assessment items, and/or
  • Each class selected to be assessed did not meet 70% of the assessment items measured

Deferred programs have two options.

  1. Deferred programs can appeal the deferred decision.  See the Decision Appeals Policy for more information.
  2. Deferred programs will be automatically returned to Stage 2 (Enroll and Self-Study) where they can continue the process at a pace that works for them. Site visits can be accelerated depending on how quickly the program competes the necessary steps in the Accreditation Portal and the availability of NAEYC assessors.

Stage 4: Maintain Accreditation

Accreditation demonstrates both a commitment to quality and continuous quality improvement. Accredited programs continuously ensure that their environment, policies, and practices are aligned with the standards.

Accredited programs maintain their accreditation status by:
  • Adhering to accreditation policies
  • Continuing to meet the accreditation standards and assessment items. 10% of accredited programs are randomly assessed via site visit yearly.
  • Reporting all major changes and incidents to NAEYC. The nature of the change may require a verification of evidence with or without a site visit.
  • Submitting Annual Reports with fees.

Programs should begin to reexamine their evidence when they submit Annual Report 3 and prepare for a renewal site visit when they submit Annual Report 4.

Programs in this stage of the process receive:
  • Self-assessment tools, tips, and planning guides
  • Site visit preparation tools, tips, and planning guides
  • Trainings and webinars
  • Official documentation to acknowledge status