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Information for Programs

The Accreditation Process

Beginning Self-Study

The first, and perhaps most important part of the accreditation process, is the self-study. During self-study, program personnel and families determine how well the program meets the NAEYC Accreditation Criteria, make needed improvements, and report compliance with the Criteria on the Early Childhood Program Description provided by the Academy. Programs are encouraged to use the Accreditation Readiness Survey to determine their readiness for seeking NAEYC Accreditation. NAEYC's online catalog offers a wide range of publications and other resources helpful to programs in self study.

Eligibility Criteria

Preparing for Validation

After the Early Childhood Program Description has been submitted to the Academy and is determined to be complete, NAEYC assigns trained validators to make an on-site visit to verify the accuracy of the Early Childhood Program Description. The length of the visit varies by program size but does not typically exceed 3 days with 2 validators. Visits are arranged in the order that the Early Childhood Program Description was received. With the exception of a few areas with very high demand, most visits are now arranged within 6-9 months. Program administrators are encouraged to review Tips for Administrators (.pdf) prior to their validation visit.

Commission Decision

A Commission considers the validated Early Childhood Program Description and makes the accreditation decision based on professional judgment. Programs are required to demonstrate substantial compliance with the accreditation criteria in order to become accredited.

Maintaining Accreditation

Accredited programs are required to submit an Annual Report Form each year that addresses the criteria cited for improvement as well as those criteria that require annual action (such as many evaluation standards). Annual Reports also inform the Academy of any changes which may include but are not limited to relocation; serving a new age group; change in owner/vendor; licensing changes or violations; changes in director and/or significant staff turnover. When programs experience changes, a verification visit may be necessary to verify the program is maintaining compliance with the accreditation criteria. The fee for a verification visit is based on the number of children enrolled at a program.

Each year the Annual Report Form is due to the Academy no sooner than 12 months and no later than 14 months after the anniversary date of your program's accreditation (use the date on your certificate). In order for the Annual Report to be processed, the appropriate fee must be included with the report. To safeguard your work, keep a photocopy of the completed Annual Report for your records and send the Annual Report by certified mail. For specific questions about completing the Annual Report you may email annualreports@naeyc.org or you may call 800-424-2460 x2022 and ask to speak to the Quality Management Coordinator for your region.

Failure to submit an Annual Report will be grounds for withdrawal of Accreditation.

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Accreditation fees

Accreditation Fee Structure

Fees vary by the size of program enrollment. Fees are as follows:

  Level 1
(60 or fewer children)
Level 2
(61 to 120 children)
Level 3
(121 to 240 children)
Level 4
(241 to 360 children*)
*For each
additional 120 children
Step 1
Enrolling in Self-Study
$425 $525 $650 $775 $100
Step 2
Becoming an Applicant
$200 $275 $350 $425 $75
Step 3
Becoming a Candidate
$650 $775 $950 $1,150 $100
Step 4
Meeting the Program Standards
No associated fees No associated fees No associated fees No associated fees No associated fees
Annual Report $300 $350 $400 $450 $100
Verification Visit $650 $775 $950 $1,150 $100

Cancellation, or rescheduling, of a confirmed on-site visit results in a $250 cancellation/rescheduling fee.

Fee Increases

In August 2004 NAEYC announced an increase in fees for NAEYC accreditation. Increased fees are needed to strengthen the reliability and integrity of the system, and ensure that all programs receive prompt and efficient service. Since we launched accreditation in 1985, program fees have never fully covered NAEYC's costs for operating the accreditation system, with the annual loss increasing in recent years. In fact, in fiscal year 2004, accreditation operations expenses exceeded income by $1.8 million. The new fee structure narrows this gap, but still requires NAEYC to continue to support the costs of the system.

The fees are spread out over the entire accreditation process, so that you can more easily build the costs into your annual budgets. There are two fees in the entry stage of the new process: one for Enrollment in Self-Study, and another when your program files an Application for Accreditation (indicating that you will complete the self-assessment process within a specified time frame.) A third fee is due when your program applies to Become a Candidate. Programs that earn NAEYC Accreditation pay Annual Report fees with each of the four reports they file over the five-year term.

The fees have been carefully considered to ensure that the increases are fairly balanced among all types of programs. (For example, in a program with 90 children, the total increase in fees will equal approximately $3.10 per child per year.)

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Accreditation Policy changes

NAEYC-accredited programs are expected to comply with policy changes adopted since the 1998 Accreditation Criteria.

NAEYC clarifies accreditation criterion for supervision of sleeping infants.

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