Welcome to the Texas Early Childhood Program Standards Comparison Tool!

The Texas Early Childhood Program Standards Comparison Tool is a searchable database of early childhood program standards, categorized by topic. Federal and state program standards, as well as other national and state program accreditations, are included in the tool. The goal of the tool is to provide information about various program standards and accreditations to support increased collaboration among early childhood programs.

Agency Info

The following table contains a description of the standards and accreditations listed in the Texas Early Childhood Program Standards Comparison Tool. Refer to this table for questions about the different program standards and accreditations. This table can also be used by early childhood providers who are interested in applying for these accreditations. For more information, click the links to access their individual websites.

Federal and State Program Standards

Agency Information
Federal Program Standards

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Head Start

Head Start and Early Head Start Performance Standards
Head Start is a federal program that promotes the school readiness of children ages birth to five from low-income families by enhancing their cognitive, social, and emotional development.  Head Start programs provide comprehensive services to enrolled children and their families, which include health, nutrition, social, and other services determined to be necessary by family needs assessments, in addition to education and cognitive development services. Head Start services are designed to be responsive to each child and family's ethnic, cultural, and linguistic heritage.  Head Start serves preschool-age children and their families. Many Head Start programs also provide Early Head Start, which serves infants, toddlers, pregnant women and their families who have incomes below the federal poverty level.  Head Start programs offer a variety of service models, depending on the needs of the local community.

Programs may be based in:

  • centers or schools that children attend for part-day or full-day services;
  • family child care homes; and/or
  • children's own homes, where a staff person visits once a week to provide services to the child and family. Children and families who receive home-based services gather periodically with other enrolled families for a group learning experience facilitated by Head Start staff.

U.S. Department of Defense Military Child Care and Effectiveness Rating and Improvement System

Effectiveness Rating and Improvement System
The U.S. Department of Defense provides child care to military families through several systems.  Military child care can be through family child care homes (known as FCC) or child development programs in centers (known as CDP).  In the Comparison Tool, standards for military child care are indicated by the prefix “DODI.”

Additionally, DOD operates the Effectiveness Rating and Improvement System (ERIS), a quality rating and improvement system for military child care programs.  The standards for ERIS are indicated by the prefix “ERIS.”  All programs that participate in ERIS must also follow the DODI standards.

Texas State Program Standards

Texas Department of Family and Protective Services – Child Care Licensing

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services is mandated by the Texas Legislature to regulate child care and child-playing activities in Texas.  The minimum standards are a product of contributions from many people and groups and thus reflect what the citizens of Texas consider reasonable and minimum.  Various aspects of regulated operations are evaluated for compliance with the minimum standards, rules, and law during regular inspections. The emphasis on these inspections is to prevent risk to children in care. All operations are designated a monitoring frequency based on their compliance history.  The following minimum standards apply to early childhood programs in Texas:

Minimum Standards for Child Care Centers
These minimum standards apply to child care centers that care for seven or more children for less than 24 hours per day.  These facilities may be day-care centers, kindergarten and nursery schools, school with kindergarten and above, or drop-in care centers.

Minimum Standards for Registered and Licensed Child-Care Homes
These minimum standards apply to child-care homes licensed or registered by Texas DFPS that care for 12 or fewer children in the caregiver’s home for less than 24 hours per day.

Minimum Standards for School-Age and Before and After-School Programs
These minimum standards apply to operations exclusively providing before and/or after-school care services.

Texas Education Agency

Texas Pre-Kindergarten Laws (Texas Education Code, Chapter 29, Subchapter E – Kindergarten and PreKindergarten Programs)
Texas does not have mandated pre-kindergarten standards.  However, the Texas Education Agency has established rules and regulations governing the schools that operate state-funded pre-kindergarten programs.  These rules are included in the Comparison Tool. 


State and National Program Accreditations

Agency or Organization Accreditation Information Application Information
State Accreditations

Texas Workforce Commission – Texas Rising Star Provider Certification

Texas Rising Star Provider Certification
Texas Rising Star Provider certification is a process for improving the quality of child care services provided in Texas. A Texas Rising Star Provider is a child care provider that has an agreement with a Board's Child Care Contractor to serve Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) subsidized children and that voluntarily meets requirements that exceed the State's Minimum Licensing Standards for child care facilities. The Texas Rising Star Provider certification system provides graduated levels of certification as providers meet progressively higher certification requirements.

Certification as a Texas Rising Star Provider is available to Licensed Center, Licensed Child Care Home, and Registered Child Care Home providers who meet the certification criteria. The process improves the quality of child care provided, not only to TWC subsidized children, but to all children enrolled in certified facilities.

Click here for more information.
National Accreditations

Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI)

REACH Standards and Indicators
ACSI's REACH accreditation is offered to early education programs in order to validate their quality and verify that they are striving for excellence based on a solid Christian philosophy of education foundation.

Click here for more information.

National AfterSchool Association (NAA)

Council on Accreditation
The accreditation from NAA is managed by the Council on Accreditation (COA).  The standards from NAA were merged with the standards developed by COA, an international accreditation organization that works in multiple sectors to promote accreditations with service delivery operations in multiple fields, including early care and education.  The accreditation promotes service delivery quality through program administration, human resources, and programming and services standards.

Click here for more information.

National Association of Child Care Professionals (NAC)

NAC Accreditation Standards
NAC Accreditation offers early care and education programs the opportunity to demonstrate and document quality performance using research-based criteria.  NAC Accreditation values the rich and diverse tapestry of early care and education programs and the uniqueness of each.  Early care and education programs applying for accreditation must be in compliance with state and local regulatory agencies. Programs must have been in continuous operation for at least one year at the time of the validation visit. Only programs that have an enrollment of fifteen or more children and operate on a half or full-day basis are eligible. Programs operating under separate licensing and/or having separate physical locations will be considered as separate entities for participation in NAC.

NAC does not accredit kindergartens, family group homes, or stand-alone school age group care. School age groups associated with a preschool, with the same onsite director, and located at the same site with the same license must participate in the self-study and accreditation process.

Click here for more information.

National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)

NAEYC Accreditation of Programs for Young Children
NAEYC Accreditation began in 1985 with the goal of providing an accrediting system that would raise the level of quality in early childhood programs.  Currently, over 6,500 programs are accredited nationwide.  NAEYC Accredited programs invest in early childhood education because they believe in the benefits to children and families.  Early childhood experiences—from birth to age 8—have an enormous impact on children's lifelong learning and positively contribute to their health and development.  Early childhood education programs with the mark of quality benefit children with greater readiness for and success in school.  Both center-based and school-based programs are eligible for NAEYC Accreditation.

Click here for more information.

National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC)

NAFCC Accreditation
NAFCC sponsors the only nationally recognized accreditation system designed specifically for family child care providers.  NAFCC Accreditation is awarded to family child care providers who meet the eligibility requirements and the Quality Standards for NAFCC Accreditation.  Accreditation reflects a high level of quality through a process that examines all aspects of the family child care program, i.e. relationships, the environment, developmental learning activities, safety and health, and professional and business practices. Once family child care providers become accredited, they agree to abide by the standards set forth and to be measured against those standards, with periodic integrity and compliance reviews. There are over 2100 NAFCC Accredited providers throughout the United States and in other locations worldwide where military family child care professionals operate.

Click here for more information.

National Early Childhood Program Accreditation (NECPA)

National Early Childhood Program Accreditation (NECPA)
NECPA has a heritage of supporting the profession of early care and education by encouraging the availability of high quality, affordable child care and preschool programs for children, families, and communities.  NECPA accreditation verifies an early childhood program meets established standards of excellence, acknowledges that the program provides high quality child care, and assists parents in selecting child care by identifying programs that meet these standards.  Child care programs that serve at least seven children are eligible for NECPA accreditation.

Click here for more information.