Programs for Young Children

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Standards and Criteria

Childhood Programs

Ensuring the quality of children's daily experiences in early childhood programs and promoting positive child outcomes is the goal of the 10 NAEYC Early Childhood Program Standards and Accreditation Criteria.

The NAEYC program standards and accreditation criteria were updated in 2006 to include (1) explicit program standards for early childhood programs serving children birth through kindergarten and (2) making the standards more evidence-based and aligned with the profession’s knowledge of best practice.
There are ten program standards, with specific criteria attached to each, that programs must meet in order to achieve NAEYC Accreditation. The framework of the standards and criteria focus on best practices in the field and the benefits to stakeholders in early childhood education. There are four groups of early childhood education stakeholders: children, teachers, family and community partners, and the program administration. 
Each of the ten standards falls under a category according to the early childhood education stakeholder.  As the breakdown below illustrates, the majority of the standards focus on childrenthe most important stakeholders. The remainder of the ten standards focus on other stakeholders and the programmatic structure they build to support quality. 
Standards under this group focus on the advancement of children’s learning and development.
  • Standard 1: Relationships
  • Standard 2: Curriculum
  • Standard 3: Teaching
  • Standard 4: Assessment of Child Progress
  • Standard 5: Health
The focus for this standard is on the qualifications, knowledge, and professional commitment of a program’s teaching staff.
  • Standard 6: Teachers
Family and Community Partners
The two standards focus on relevant partnerships the program establishes with both families and the community.
  • Standard 7: Families
  • Standard 8: Community Relationships
Program Administration
The final two standards focus on the program's physical environment and the leadership and management provided by the program administration.
  • Standard 9: Physical Environment
  • Standard 10: Leadership and Management



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