What is NAEYC?
NAEYC, the National Association for the Education of Young Children, is an organization that works to standardize and recognize high quality early childhood programs. NAEYC provides opportunities for professional development, sets standards for early childhood education and recognizes centers that meet these benchmarks, advocates on behalf of early childhood programs and services for families and creates a network of organizations that provide high quality early childhood programs.
What does NAEYC accreditation mean?
An early childhood center that attains NAEYC accreditation is among the best. Accreditation is a symbol of quality, an indication that the center offers exceptional programming for children, with qualified teachers in a safe and nurturing environment.
Is NAEYC accreditation required for child care centers?
No, accreditation is voluntary and requires a lot of work on the part of the center. Rigorous evaluations, assessments and reviews of staff and administrators are conducted. Center facilities, curriculum, programming are all reviewed and scrutinized. In addition to all the paperwork that must be completed and site visits by NAEYC staff, a child care center must pay fees in order to affiliate with NAEYC.
In Pennsylvania, only about 6% of child care centers are NAEYC accredited.
What is Keystone STARS?
Keystone STARS is the child care rating system for the state of Pennsylvania. It works to improve, support and recognize continuous quality improvement efforts among early childhood education centers, pre-k and Head Start programs, by awarding a star rating, ranging from one to four stars. Keystone STARS is another way for parents to compare the quality of early childhood programs.
How are stars awarded?
The stars signify performance standards on four levels and each level builds on the previous one. The standards promote quality early learning environments and positive child outcomes and include staff qualifications and professional development, partnerships with family and community, center management and the curriculum of the program. The centers must provide a healthy, safe and exciting environment where children can feel comfortable learning and exploring.
Do all centers receive a star?
No. In the Southeast Region of Pennsylvania, fewer than 11% of regulated providers are rated STAR 3 or 4. The Paley, Lassin, K’tonton, Lokoff and Kehillah branches have achieved the highest Keystone STARS rating – 4 stars. The Buerger branch is new to the program and has already achieved a STAR 3.