Standards for child and youth development programs

2020 Edition

Early Childhood Education Definition


Early Childhood Education facilitates appropriate child development and ensures the health and safety of children in care.


Early Childhood Education programs serve families in need of high-quality child care in a center-based setting.  Programs promote healthy child development through relationship building and a variety of cognitive, physical, and social activities.  Children served typically range from six weeks to five years of age.



Note: Throughout this document, the term “teaching staff” is used to refer to individuals who work directly with children in the classroom, including teachers and assistant teachers.  While programs may use different terminology, the term “teacher” refers to the individual with primary responsibility for a group of children.  Assistant teachers are directly supervised by teachers. When a standard was written for a specific position, the title is specified. The term “parent” is used to refer to the child’s caregiver at home including biological parents, legal guardians, or extended family as applicable.

Note: These standards were not designed to accredit family child care homes and would not be an appropriate tool for such programs.  The standards in this section are reflective of evidence informed practices in center-based care and do not address issues specific to the family child care setting.  Completion of these standards by a child care center that utilizes family child care homes to expand its capacity to provide care will not result in accreditation of the individual homes and cannot speak to the quality of the care being provided within them.  CYD-ECE 13 is intended only to review the oversight and support provided to family child care homes by the child care facility.

Note: Please see CYD-ECE Reference List for a list of resources that informed the development of these standards.

Research has shown that high quality early childhood education can have a positive impact on the development, academic achievement, and safety of children.  Some studies have found that the strongest impacts of high quality early childhood education programs were observed in at-risk children.  A long-term study has shown that high quality early childhood education programs for at-risk children had positive effects on future economic success and the prevention of criminal activities in adulthood.

Self-Study Narrative Evidence
  • Procedures for covering staff breaks and other situations that require a teaching staff person to leave the classroom for 5 minutes or more (CYD-ECE 10.03)
  • Infant sleep procedures to reduce risk of SIDS (CYD-ECE 5.05)
  • Emergency response plan and preparedness procedures (CYD-ECE 5.06, 5.07, 5.08)
  • Medication management procedures or protocols (CYD-ECE 5.09, 5.10, 5.11)
  • Motor vehicle insurance coverage expectations (CYD-ECE 5.12)