Accreditation of ELCA schools and early childhood education centers may be provided by a number of state, regional or national accrediting bodies. A few that are commonly used by ELCA schools and centers are:
· Middle States Association of Colleges and Universities – Commission on Elementary Schools (http://www.msa.cess.org/)
· National Accreditation Commission for Early Care and Education Programs (NAC) (http://www.earlylearningleaders.org/)
· National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) (http://naeyc.org/)
· National Early Childhood Program Accreditation (NECPA) (http://necpa.site-ym.com/page/NECPAStandards)
· North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCACS) (http://www.northcentralassociation.org/)
· Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) (http://www.sacs.org/)
· Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) (http://www.wascweb.org//)
· Your State’s Accrediting Association
· Organizations which may be recommended by your State early childhood licensing division and/or your State Department of Education.
There are several resources that may be useful to you. If you are an early childhood education center and want to connect with your state’s licensing and quality control agencies, you will find information HERE: https://childcareta.acf.hhs.gov/licensing Understanding the difference between early childhood center Licensing vs. Accreditation may also be helpful. Parents searching for quality early childhood education programs often hear providers say, “I am licensed” or “We are accredited” but often do not understand the difference. Being licensed and being accredited are different. Licensing regulations are set by each individual state. The goal is to ensure the safety and well-being of children. Programs that are licensed must meet the state’s minimum standards. Each state defines which types of child care arrangements must be licensed. Accreditation relates to standards created by nationally recognized groups. Accreditation standards are most often higher than licensing regulations. Early childhood education programs can voluntarily become accredited; it is not mandated by state law. Therefore, accredited programs have gone beyond the minimal licensing standards to assist them in providing quality care and programming.
While ELEA advocates for all of its early childhood education programs to meet their state’s licensing and quality rating requirements, it also encourages both early childhood education programs and its elementary schools to be accredited.
ELEA suggests that you review Suggested Criteria for Choosing an Accrediting Agency when choosing an accrediting body to make sure it is the best fit for your school or center.