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High Quality
Early Care and Education

The Santa Barbara County Child Care Planning Council advocates for high quality early care and education services for the children and families of Santa Barbara County and actively supports efforts to improve the quality of programs available to families countywide.

The ten criteria listed below specify the characteristics of a high quality early care and education program recognized by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Additional information about program quality may be found at and

Criteria for High-Quality Early Childhood Programs1

The National Association for the Education of Young Children defines a high-quality early childhood program as one that meets the needs of and promotes the physical, social, emotional and cognitive development of the children and adults – parents, staff and administrators – who are involved in the program. Each day of a child’s life is viewed as leading toward the growth and development of a healthy, intelligent and contributing member of society (NAEYC 1998, page 13).

  1. Interactions between children and adults provide opportunities for children to develop an understanding of self and others and are characterized by warmth, personal respect, individuality, positive support, and responsiveness. Teachers facilitate interactions among children to provide opportunities for development of self-esteem, social competence, and intellectual growth.
  2. The curriculum engages children actively in the learning process, provides a variety of developmentally appropriate learning experiences, and encourages children to pursue their own interests in the context of life in the community and the world.
  3. Teachers and families work closely in partnership to ensure high-quality care and education for children, and parents feel supported and welcomed as observers and contributors to the program.
  4. The program is staffed by adults who understand child and family development and who recognize and meet the developmental needs of children and families.
  5. The program is efficiently and effectively administered with attention to the needs and desires of children, families, and staff.
  6. The program is sufficiently staffed to meet the needs of and promote the physical, social, emotional and cognitive development of children.
  7. The indoor and outdoor physical environment fosters optimal growth and development through opportunities for exploration and learning.
  8. The health and safety of children and adults is protected and enhanced.
  9. The nutritional needs of children and adults are met in a manner that promotes physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development.
  10. Systematic assessment of the effectiveness of the program in meeting its goals for children, families, and staff is conducted to ensure that good quality care and education are provided and maintained, and that the program continually strives for improvement and innovation.

1Accreditation Criteria and Procedures of the National Association for the Education of Young Children, 1998

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Santa Barbara County Child Care Planning Council • Santa Barbara County Education Office • P.O. Box 6307, Santa Barbara, CA 93160-6307
(805) 964-4710 ext.4473 •
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