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Levels of Quality

Quality experiences that promote children's healthy growth and development are provided at each level. As child care providers move from one level to the next, those opportunities increase.

Starting with meeting basic health and safety needs at Level One and topping out with national accreditation at Level Four, each quality level is tailored to suit the needs of licensed centers, family child care homes and unlicensed registered ministries. The system awards providers for ongoing efforts to achieve higher standards of quality.

Level 4 – National Accreditation
Level 4 programs are the highest rated programs and have demonstrated a commitment to the highest level of professionalism in high quality child care—achievement of a nationally recognized accreditation. Level 4 programs are managed by a provider or director who has volunteered to provide mentoring to others in the field.

Level 3 – Planned Curriculum
Level 3 programs have demonstrated the knowledge and skill necessary for planning appropriate activities and opportunities that lead children toward school readiness.
Level 3 programs have made a significant investment in the professional development of the staff, and they incorporate family and staff input into the program.

Level 2 – Learning Environments
Level 2 programs have demonstrated a commitment to improve program quality. They offer opportunities for children to advance their growth and development. Level 2 programs will have evidence of a consistent daily schedule, planned activities for children, and will provide relevant program information for families.

Level 1 – Health and Safety
Level 1 programs have demonstrated that they are operating in good standing and have been recognized by the state of Indiana as having met all required health and safety standards.

Approved Accrediting Bodies

To meet the highest standards for high quality early care and education, Level Four (4) of Paths to QUALITY™ requires the child care program to achieve and maintain accreditation by one of the following nationally recognized accrediting bodies approved by the Office of Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning:

  • Association of Christian Schools International
  • Cognia
  • Council on Accreditation - Child and Youth Development
  • Council on Accreditation
  • National Accreditation Commission for Early Care and Education Programs
  • National Association for Family Child Care
  • National Association for the Education of Young Children
  • National Early Childhood Program Accreditation
  • National Lutheran Schools Association

The Indiana Accreditation Project provides financial support for each phase of the accreditation process as well as provider support materials. Trained professionals offer advising to assist programs in achieving accreditation.

For more information on the accreditation project or to apply for assistance, contact the Indiana Association for the Education of Young Children by calling 800-657-7577 or by visiting their web site at