Child Care Accreditation
By Vanessa Rasmussen, © 2004, All rights reserved.
To demonstrate that a childcare center provides quality care and meets high standards of excellence, the center can opt for an accreditation from an independent childcare organization. The process of accreditation is not mandatory, it only adds to the credibility of the childcare program.
Accreditation is a rigorous process that involves among other things a thorough review of the program by the accrediting body, and on-site visit. Accredited childcare centers exceed most standards of quality set by the licensing process. Besides, accreditation makes it easier for parents to choose the right program for their children.
Accreditation can be obtained for day care centers as well as family day homes. The process of accreditation consists of the following phases:
- Phase I known as Self-Study, through which program staff identify areas needing improvement
- Phase II known as Validation, in which program information is verified during a site visit by a team of trained volunteers
- Phase III known as the Review, which is done by a national commission of recognized experts who judge whether the program is in substantial compliance with the accreditation criteria
If all these requirements are met, the day care facility is granted an accredition generally for a period of 3 to 5 years. However, the program needs to submit an annual report every year to the reviewing body. This report should document all changes within the facility as well as proof of continued compliance with all policies.
Some of the characteristics that the visiting team from the accreditation body looks for are:
- Are the caregivers loving and responsive?
- Do caregivers encourage children's play and view care giving routines as opportunities for learning?
- Do the caregivers respect children's individual characteristics as well as families' preferences for their children?
- Do caregivers understand principles of child development and learning and know how to apply them to specific situations?
- Are the groups small enough to provide the individual attention very young children need?
- Are groups of children and adults consistent over the course of the day and over time, fostering good relationships?
- Are there plenty of toys and learning materials that offer interesting and challenging activities to children that are also safe and achievable?
- Do parents and caregivers interact regularly and work together effectively on behalf of children?
- Is careful attention paid to children's health and safety?
Copyright 2001, 2004. All rights reserved. Any reproduction of this article in whole or in part without written or verbal permission is strictly prohibited. For information about reprinting this article, contact the copyright owner: Vanessa Rasmussen, Ph.D, Starting a Day Care Center, http://www.startingadaycarecenter.com.