How to Become an Accredited Preschool

Preschool accreditation is administered and regulated by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Accreditation requires that childcare providers uphold strict standards in regards to staff, curriculum, operations and environment. Although it is not necessary to gain accreditation in order to run a preschool, accreditation can greatly contribute to your business's reputation and viability, as less than 9 percent of all American preschools hold NAEYC accreditation. Follow these steps to become an accredited preschool.

Steps

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    Enroll in the NAEYC's self-study program. The enrollment process includes several steps:
    • Complete the enrollment form, which can be found on the NAEYC website.
    • Pay the enrollment fee. The enrollment fee for childcare accreditation is based on the number of children enrolled in your program, and the fee schedule can be found on the NAEYC website.
    • Register on NAEYC's online resources site, called TORCH, which you can access through the NAEYC website. The TORCH website contains all of the information you will need pertaining to accreditation criterion, training/study materials and support.
    • You will receive your preschool accreditation self-study kit within 6 weeks of registering on TORCH.
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    Refer to TORCH resources in order to learn about meeting NAEYC compliance standards, and to estimate the amount of time it will take you to prepare for application. You will need to prove the following in order to successfully apply for NAEYC accreditation:
    • Your program structure must be school or center based.
    • You must have at least 10 children in your program, birth-aged to kindergarten.
    • Your location must be in the United States.
    • By the time you submit your candidacy application, you must have been in business for at least 1 year.
    • Your program must be appropriately licensed, according to your state government's regulations.
    • You must meet all of the standards for the NAEYC Early Childhood Program, as they are outlined on the TORCH website.
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    Establish a timeline. Once you have your TORCH access and self-study materials, you must create a timeframe for completing and submitting your application materials, choosing a candidacy application due date and scheduling a site visit.
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    Apply for NAEYC accreditation. The application process includes the following tasks:
    • Submit the application, along with the timeline and application fee (as listed on the NAEYC website fee schedule).
    • Use the TORCH self-assessment tool to determine what you need to do to achieve compliance with NAEYC standards. TORCH will guide you through documenting the evidence of your compliance.
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    Ensure that your program meets the candidacy requirements for preschool accreditation, as outlined on the TORCH website:
    • Administrators, teachers and teachers aides must have the specified amount/type of schooling, as well as all necessary licenses.
    • The business must be aptly licensed and registered, in accordance with local government regulations.
    • The program must meet the 10 NAEYC Early Childhood Program standards pertaining to staff, operations, curriculum and facility conditions.
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    Comply with the site visit. During the site visit, an NAEYC assessor will observe your childcare program directly and evaluate the documentation you provided in the self-assessment. The site visit is the final step in determining your eligibility for NAEYC accreditation.
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    Wait for a decision. You will receive notice of either your approval, deferment or denial, or a request for more documentation, within 3 months.

Article Info

Categories: Preschool and Kindergarten