Accreditation Doesn't Guarantee Day-Care Quality A New Study Finds Higher Wages and Continued Training Are Key to a Strong Staff

By Marilyn Gardner, writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, April 17, 1997 | Go to article overview

Accreditation Doesn't Guarantee Day-Care Quality A New Study Finds Higher Wages and Continued Training Are Key to a Strong Staff


Marilyn Gardner, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


Parents searching for safe, nurturing child care often assume that accredited day-care centers rank at the top. In many cases they do. But unless teachers in these facilities receive better-than-average wages, a new study warns, accreditation alone cannot ensure continuing high quality.

The independent 20-month study, released yesterday by the National Center for the Early Childhood Work Force in Washington, is the first large-scale assessment of accreditation for child-care centers.

Only 5,000 of the nation's 97,000 child-care centers are accredited. The process is voluntary. The study finds that although centers accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) are several times more likely than other centers to be rated high in quality, about 40 percent of accredited facilities still receive only mediocre grades. The group blames high turnover among teaching staff, fueled by insufficient wages, for the lower ratings. "Accreditation alone is not a consistent guarantee of excellence," says Marcy Whitebook, senior research and policy adviser for the nonprofit group. "Accreditation combined with better compensation is what makes it." Accreditation by NAEYC, the leading accreditation group, involves rating a center's curriculum, physical environment, interaction among staff and children, health and safety standards, and nutrition and food service. The process is more rigorous than most states' licensing requirements. The report underscores the critical need to improve child care in the United States: *About 15 percent of all center-based day care for preschoolers, and at least double that amount for infants, is considered harmful, according to the report. …

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