Candidacy Qualification Requirements

A WERC-accredited program represents the highest mark of quality in early childhood education—display your WERC Accreditation certificate with pride and use the WERC logo and resources to promote your program as a leader in the field.

To maintain active accreditation status, programs must constantly refine and update their information with WERC, while continuing to meet WERC’s 10 Early Learning Program Standards and Criteria.

Throughout the WERC Accreditation of Early Learning Programs process, your program’s staff qualifications will be assessed according to the following measures:

  • Candidacy requirements related to staff qualifications
  • Teacher and teacher assistant/aide qualifications
  • Program administrator qualifications

Staff Qualification Requirements

Candidacy requirements are assessed at a lower threshold than criteria 6.A.05 and 6.A.06 during the candidacy and renewal processes. Programs are required to meet all candidacy requirements related to staff qualifications to be eligible for a site visit. See the options guide for educational qualifications to determine your staff's eligibility.

Meet candidacy requirements related to staff qualifications:

  • Administrators must meet Option A, B, or C
  • At least 75 percent of teachers must meet options C—K as outlined in the options guide for educational qualifications
  • At least 50 percent of assistant teachers must meet options A—K as outlined in the options guide for educational qualifications

Teacher and Teacher Assistant/Aide Qualifications

  • Criteria 6.A.05 and 6.A.06 are not required but will always be assessed, and they contribute to the overall accreditation decision. Refer to the timeline for meeting teacher qualifications
  • Criterion 6.A.05 for Teachers
  • Criterion 6.A.06 for Assistant Teachers/Teacher Aides
  • All teachers have a minimum of an associate’s degree or equivalent.
  • At least 75 percent of teachers have a minimum of a baccalaureate degree or equivalent in early childhood education, child development, elementary education, or early childhood special education, and this training encompasses the development and learning of children birth through kindergarten; family and community relationships; observing, documenting, and assessing young children; teaching and learning; and professional practices and development. Refer to the timeline for meeting teacher qualifications.
  • Assistant teachers/teacher aides have a high school diploma or GED.
  • 50 percent of assistant teachers/teacher aides have at least a Child Development Associate credential (CDA) or equivalent.
  • 100 percent of assistant teachers/teacher aides who do not have at least a CDA are enrolled in a program leading to a CDA or equivalent, are actively participating in the program, and are demonstrating progress toward the CDA or equivalent.

Program Administrator Qualifications

Program administrator qualifications (10.A.02) is a required criterion and must be met as part of the candidacy requirements. At least one person must meet the qualifications outlined in this criterion, and this person must be the designated program administrator.

There are three different ways that a program administrator can meet 10.A.02.

  • Have at least a baccalaureate degree with 24 credits in early childhood education, child development, elementary education or early childhood special education AND nine credits in administration, leadership, or management.
  • Have a plan in place to meet the qualifications outlined in Option A within five years.
  • Meet the alternative pathway—must document a total of 100 points across all three categories: education, administrator experience, and relevant training or credentials.

Evidence of meeting this standard is provided through the submission of documentation in candidacy and renewal, as well as portfolio review, during the site visit.

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