How to Get Started
Becoming accredited by NAEYC requires four steps that are outlined below. These steps help programs prepare for each stage of the process, and ensure that the crucial components of program quality are in place along the way.
Programs that have already completed the four-step process will pursue a new term of accreditation through the renewal process.
Step 1: Enrollment/Self-Study
- Submit enrollment form and fee
- Register for TORCH
- Receive the Self-Study Kit within four to six weeks of submitting enrollment form
- Use Self-Study tools in TORCH to evaluate program quality and to inform quality improvement efforts
- Plan your program’s accreditation timeline, considering submission deadlines for reaccreditation if applicable
Step 2: Application/Self-Assessment
Compile evidence on how your program meets the 10 NAEYC Early Childhood Program Standards
- Submit application and fee, selecting a candidacy due date for Step 3
- Use Self-Assessment tools in TORCH to document that your program meets the 10 Standards
- Gather documentation that your program meets the candidacy requirements
- Download candidacy materials eight weeks prior to self-selected candidacy due date
- Complete candidacy materials
Step 3: Candidacy
Demonstrate key components of high quality programming and preparedness for site visit.
- Submit candidacy materials and fee on or before candidacy due date
- “Fine tune” program improvement efforts in preparation for site visit
- Receive candidacy decision from the NAEYC Academy
Step 4: Meeting the Standards
Demonstrate how your program meets the standards by allowing an NAEYC Assessor to observe your program in action and review evidence collected in your self-assessment.
For programs accepted as candidates for NAEYC Accreditation:
- Receive contact from NAEYC Assessor(s)
- Provide NAEYC Assessor(s) with your program’s calendar and selected exclusion dates
- Submit changes in staff to NAEYC Academy (if applicable)
- Receive notification of 15-day window in which the site visit could occur
- Receive notification of site visit one business day prior to the visit
- Receive site visit within six months of candidacy due date
- Receive accreditation decision within three months of site visit
- Accredited Programs: Celebrate your accreditation decision
Maintaining the Standards
Accredited NAEYC programs must then demonstrate continued compliance with the 10 NAEYC Early Childhood Program Standards.
- Submit an Annual Report on the first through fourth anniversaries of your accreditation anniversary date
- Update NAEYC with new information, including major programmatic changes, licensing/regulatory updates, and incidents that did or could have compromised the essential health or safety of any child.
- Submit to additional verification or random unannounced visits to demonstrate continued compliance with the program standards
Learn more about what maintaining the standards requires.