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Home > Practice Areas > Child Care and Development > Child Care Information Center

 
 

Licensing and Accreditation

Licensing
The state protects children with basic health and safety standards.

Every state has regulations to ensure children are cared for in physically and developmentally safe facilities. In most states licensing is not required for all types of out-of-home care. For example, it is not usually required for care by family members.

To check whether your services require a license under the laws of your state, and to find out more about your state's licensing requirements, go to the state licensing page of National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care.

Accreditation
A private organization determines standards for quality care and encourages their implementation through recognition programs and support services.

Beyond the basic health and safety standards that licensing ensures, accreditation recognizes additional efforts to guarantee quality in child care facilities and services. Accreditation agencies encourage well-staffed, nourishing environments that are child-oriented and developmentally appropriate.

There are accrediting institutions on both the national and local levels. These organizations determine what factors go into quality care, and use this information to set high standards for care providers. These standards serve as goal posts for providers and as criteria for evaluating the quality of care for accrediting staff. A child care provider who meets the standards of the accrediting organization is awarded an accreditation certificate. For parents, this certificate stands for quality assurance and peace of mind about their children's out-of-home care experiences.

For a list of early childhood national accreditation agencies, visit the National Child Care Information Center.

CWLA Standards of Excellence for Child Care, Development, and Education Services
A guide to best practices for child care providers.

Although licensing sets minimal standards, and accreditation sets high standards, this guide from CWLA informs child care providers and accreditation organizations of best practices, based on research and collective field experience. Care providers do not receive certification based on meeting the standards of excellence described in this volume, but rather use the suggestions in it as a guide to improving their services to the highest level of professionalism and quality.

To learn more about this volume, or to order a copy, click here.

More Information

  • Overview of Information
    What will I find on this site?

  • Professional Development
    Provides links to websites of organizations dedicated to professional growth of child care workers. These websites connect you to local and distance-learning courses, conferences, workshops, forums, and advocacy.

  • Special Resources
    Offers help and information specifically for faith-based, rural, afterschool, Head Start, kith and kin, and family child care and development programs.



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