WERC Accreditation Four Steps Application

Programs pursuing initial accreditation must complete four steps:

I. Enroll and Conduct Self-Study

Align your program with the 10 WERC Early Learning Program Standards. During Step 1, your program submits an initial enrollment form and fee to access WERC’s self-study materials. Using these materials, you will begin collaborating with program staff, families, and other stakeholders to better understand your program’s current landscape, strengths, and challenges. From there, you will plan your program’s individual accreditation timeline, and proceed to Step 2.

II. Apply and Conduct Self-Assessment

Gather evidence that demonstrates how your program meets the 10 WERC Early Learning Program Standards. In the second step of pursuing WERC Accreditation, your program collects formal evidence to show how it meets WERC’s 10 Early Learning Program Standards. You must submit your formal program application and associated fee to commit your program to an accreditation timeline. You and your colleagues will begin assembling your program’s five sources of evidence, which are intended to demonstrate comprehensive program understanding and implementation of the program standards.

III. Candidacy

Demonstrate key components displayed by high-quality programs and show preparedness for the site visit. Eight weeks before starting Step 3, your program will receive access to its candidacy materials—a packet of essential program information. These must be completed and turned in by your selected Candidacy due to date. After filing the candidacy materials, your program will have entered Step 3. Continue fine-tuning your evidence and making program improvements in anticipation of the program site visit.

IV. Meeting the WERC Program Standards

Demonstrate how your program meets the program standards by having a WERC assessor observe and review evidence collected in self-assessment. Site visits are conducted within six months of your candidacy due to date. Programs are required to meet standards grouped into ten areas: relationships with children, curriculum, teaching approaches, child assessment, nutrition and health, staff qualifications, relationship with children's families, relationship with the community, physical environment, and program leadership and management.

What's Next?

Once your program receives notification that the candidacy materials have been approved, you will connect with your assigned assessor to provide exclusion dates when a site visit would not be possible. You will then be notified of a 30-day window in which the site visit will occur. You will receive confirmation of the site visit one business day before the visit. On the day of the visit, the assessor will evaluate all of your program’s evidence supporting WERC’s 10 Early Learning Program Standards, conduct classroom and facility observations, and ask any remaining questions. Once the assessor completes the site visit, you will receive notification of your final accreditation decision within 90 days.

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