The exciting news in family child care is that the National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC) has completed the development of their new accreditation tool. After extensive evaluation and four pilots the accreditation is now available nationally. The new tool has been very carefully crafted to meet high standards of child care and yet respond to the special nature of family child care. Content areas include the following: Relationships, Environment, Activities, Developmental Learning Goals, Safety and Health, and Professional and Business Practices.
NAFCC has provided an accreditation tool since 1987 to identify family child care providers who were striving to go beyond the minimum standards of care as defined by state regulations. The process of evaluation has improved the accreditation tool and help it to respond to the recent research studies in the field of early care and education. Since 1995 NAFCC has been working to gather information on issues of importance among providers and parents, build consensus on quality standards and implement pilot testing of the newest tool. Fifty-three community groups were selected to help determine the aspects of care to be assessed and to devise a process that would be friendly and effective. After collecting the data, a draft tool was designed and distributed among community group members and other early care and education experts for review. Eight hundred copies of this draft were distributed with a return response of more than fifty percent.
The draft was revised in 1998 and tested in four diverse pilot sites: Santa Cruz County, California, four counties near Fayetteville, Arkansas, the Chicago metropolitan area, and the Boston metropolitan area. In February of that year the Wheelock College staff met at the Boston Association for the Education of Young Children to carry out the first validator trainings for this new tool. Information on validator trainings can be found at the NAFCC website.
The process of NAFCC Accreditation is not overwhelming, but it does take approximately one year to complete the required sixty-five hours of training and the self-assessment profile (also available in Spanish). Candidates must be at least 21 years of age, have a high school diploma or GED, and have eighteen months of experience as a family child care provider. The process includes two six-hour observations by a qualified advisor and a parent representative. Parents are also asked to complete a survey. There are two fees of $247.50 each: one is payable upon application an the other is due prior to a visit from the NAFCC validator. NAFCC also requires candidates to become members of the organization.
This new NAFCC Accreditation Tool is effective in demonstrating the wonderful work that many family child care providers do. Communities, parents and often the providers themselves do not realize how much they contribute to the child care process. The self-assessment profile and the training requires providers to think and reflect on this issue. The parent surveys show parents just how important the relationships are in the parent, child and provider triad. The community acknowledges the value of these providers in formal recognition and award ceremonies. The standards are clearly defined and recognized by many experts and professionals in the field of early care and education.
For information about the NAFCC Accreditation Tool contact:
National Association for Family Child Care
206 6th Ave, Suite 900
Des Moines, IA 50309-4018
For additional information, contact the Families and Work Institute and Wheelock College