Accreditation & CDA

Accreditation means that an early childhood education program has successfully met national standards of quality established for child care centers and family child care. Unlike minimum licensing standards, which are required by law, accreditation is a voluntary system that has set professional standards for early childhood programs.

Accreditation for Family Child Care

To receive accreditation from the National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC), family child care providers must first go through an in-depth review process. This process includes: Proof of licensing; observation by an NAFCC representative; review of family child care records; a written self-evaluation by the provider; a parent review of the providerís self-evaluation; interviews with the provider.

Accreditation for Child Care Centers

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is the largest and most influential organization of early childhood educators and others dedicated to improving the quality of programs for children from birth through age eight. NAEYC and its affiliates work to improve professional practice and working conditions in early childhood education, and to build public support for high-quality early childhood programs.
NAEYC has measured the quality of child care centers, preschools, kindergartens, and other center- and school-based early childhood programs through its accreditation system for more than 20 years. Child care centers, preschools, and kindergartens must complete a rigorous four-step review process to earn NAEYC Accreditation, including an on-site visit by a highly-trained NAEYC assessor.

There are more than 400 criteria that programs use to demonstrate that they are meeting the ten NAEYC Early Childhood Program Standards. NAEYC Accreditation lasts for five years, during which programs must submit annual reports and are subject to unannounced visits by assessors to ensure they remain in compliance.

Child Care Resource & Referral offers support to programs seeking NAEYC Accreditation. Visit the National Academy of Early Childhood Program Accreditation for more information about standards.

Child Development Associate (CDA)

Individuals working with children ages 0-5 years are eligible to become a Child Development Associate. The CDA is a national credential administered by the Council for Professional Recognition.

To qualify for a CDA, the individual must: Be 18 years or older; have 480 hours of experience working with children in the past 5 years; have 120 clock hours of formal child care education within the past 5 years; complete a professional resource file consisting of a collection of resource materials, an autobiographical statement and 6 statements of competency; parent Opinion Questionnaires; a formal observation; and a Verification visit conducted by a CDA representative.

For more information about how to enroll in a CDA training program, visit our Trainings & Conferences page, or view a CDA Training Brochure by clicking here.

For specific questions, please contact our Provider Services Line at (509) 482-0996, or toll-free at 1-800-446-2229, or by email at


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