Accreditation is a major way that NAEYC supports quality education for the nation’s earliest learners. In 1985, NAEYC established a national, voluntary accreditation system to set professional standards for early childhood education programs, and to help families identify high-quality programs. NAEYC Accreditation provides the benchmarks which programs measure themselves against a national set of standards. Today, there are over 6500 programs NAEYC Accredited across the country and over 25 NAEYC Accredited programs in Erie and Niagara Counties.

Why Accreditation?

NAEYC accredited programs invest in early childhood education because they believe in the benefits to children and families. Early childhood experiences—from birth to age 8—have an enormous impact on children’s lifelong learning and positively contribute to their health and development. Early childhood education programs with the mark of quality benefit children with greater readiness for and success in school. It is for this reason that parents and families are seeking out NAEYC-accredited programs. Parents choosing an early childhood education program can be overwhelmed by trying to find the highest-quality program for their child. NAEYC Accreditation is the mark of quality that families are looking for. NAEYC Accreditation gives families the chance to make the Right Choice for Kids.

For more information, please check out the NAEYC website Local and national support is available.

Benefits of being an NAEYC Accredited Program:

  • Helps to build a stronger team of teachers, administrators, and families working together to improve quality for children
  • Improved standards for the overall program
  • Recognition through NAEYC, including program listing on the NAEYC website in the Program Search section
  • Announcement of program’s accreditation in the NAEYC Early Learning News weekly newsletter to programs, members, media, and others
  • Use of NAEYC Accredited logo for marketing purposes
  • Attracts more families to enroll their children at program

From NAEYC: Get Started with the Process

The NAEYC accreditation process involves four steps:

Step 1: Enrollment/Self Study

After completing the necessary paperwork, program personnel conduct a self-study to determine how well the program meets NAEYC’s standards, “to evaluate program quality and to inform quality improvement efforts.” NAEYC calls it “Aligning your program with the 10 NAEYC Early Childhood Program Standards.” It is an essential step toward achieving NAEYC Accreditation, but programs may also enroll even if they know that the other steps toward NAEYC Accreditation are further off in the future. Programs must register for TORCH to complete this step in the process.

Find out more about the enrollment process, using the TORCH online system and the tasks that are necessary to complete enrollment here:

Step 2: Application/Self-Assessment

An application must be completed. Then program personnel will put together a report, or self-assessment, that documents how your program meets the 10 NAEYC Early Childhood Program Standards. You are “compiling evidence” on why it makes sense that your program should be accredited by NAEYC. Personnel will also gather documentation that the program also meets the NAEYC Candidacy Requirements.

Find out more about the application and self-assessment here:

Step 3: Candidacy

In order to be considered a candidate for accreditation, the candidacy materials must be submitted by the deadline. This establishes that programs have met NAEYC’s baseline for quality programming. Then programs should focus on fine tuning the quality of their services and prepare themselves for a site visit.

Step 4: Meet and Maintain Standards

The main part of step 4 is the site visit, where programs have the An NAEYC-accredited program is the mark of quality in early childhood education – display your NAEYC accreditation certificate with pride and Celebrate! In order to maintain your accreditation beyond the initial five year term of accreditation, programs must submit Annual Reports and complete a Self Report of Changes when programs experience major changes. Find out more at