The National Early Childhood Program Accreditation (NECPA) Commission is committed to improving the quality of early childhood care and education programs. The NECPA Commission is doing this in several ways. The primary way is through the development and implementation of the instrument based accreditation system, The National Early Childhood Program Accreditation (NECPA). NECPA Accreditation is valid for both Family Child Care Providers and Child Care Centers, who are licensed for seven (7) children or more.
The NECPA instrument based accreditation system is a systemic indicator monitoring approach in which the program director, staff and parents evaluate the overall quality of their program. The indicator approach developed by Dr. Richard Fiene is based upon the compilation of key predictor items or indicators that have been identified as predicting the overall quality of a program and/or positive developmental outcomes for children by being in compliance with these key indicators. This approach has been developed, implemented and refined over the past 25 years in research studies Dr. Fiene has conducted in states across the nation and provinces in Canada. The indicator approach has demonstrated its efficiency and effectiveness in the monitoring of early childhood programs. By using the key indicator approach, the number of discrete items to be evaluated is substantially reduced but the overall confidence in the evaluation is maintained.
The NECPA Standards Book defines the quality core standards of the National Early Childhood Program Accreditation system (NECPA) and should be used as a guide and resource by the field and by programs seeking NECPA accreditation. The NECPA system continues to be based upon a weighted system approach in the 2017 Standards Update. The system also allows for narrative input from the NECPA Verifier and program Director. This input ensures each program is assessed based on a complete understanding, including potentially mitigating factors that could impact accreditation.
NECPA standards encompass the whole child by assessing relationships between the child and teacher, program and center relationships with families, and program community relationships. Our focus is to ensure that each child is supported and encouraged by all the people and systems that are in their environment. The standards are the results of the past 30 years of research in the field of early care and education. These sources of information represent the current, best practices in the field. They include the following:
- The American Public Health Association/American Academy of Pediatrics National Health and Safety Performance Standards (APHA/AAP)
- The National Academy of Science, Committee on Family and Work Policies (NAS)
- The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)
- American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM International)
Accreditation serves a number of important functions. It verifies that an early childhood program meets established standards of excellence. This certification is an acknowledgment to the program that they are providing high quality child care. Further, this designation assists parents in selecting child care by identifying programs that meet high quality standards. Accreditation is also an excellent learning tool. During the accreditation process, the program’s teachers and staff learn more about what is accepted as the best environment and practices for young children and how to implement these standards in their classroom.