Why is high-quality child care and early education so important?

Succeeding in life starts by succeeding in school. But to succeed in school, all young children need to be prepared to enter kindergarten. That means being ready to tackle school challenges like learning to read and do math and understanding how to talk to teachers and relate to peers. High-quality child care helps children gain these essential skills while keeping them safe and healthy.

What does high-quality child care and early education look like?

  • The program and educators are responsive to the needs of each individual child.
  • Families are engaged in their child’s program.
  • There are accessible, supportive, engaging experiences.
  • Interactions between staff and children are warm and positive.
  • Learning opportunities are developmentally appropriate, interactive, and plentiful.
  • Health, safety, positive relationships, and learning are priorities.

What is accreditation?

Program accreditation is a process in which early care and education programs can assess and improve the quality of the services.  Public and non-public early childhood and school-age programs in Maryland can pursue national, regional, or state accreditation. Through the accreditation process, a program voluntarily seeks self-study, program improvement, and external program review to achieve and publicly confirm that it meets national and/or state quality standards.

Head Start programs, child care centers, and family child care homes are required to be licensed or registered by the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) Division of Early Childhood Development, Office of Child Care. The licensing and regulatory requirements are minimum standards for operating programs. Program accreditation standards represent high quality and reflect research-based best practices in early childhood education. Program accreditation implies that services have moved beyond licensing and regulatory requirements.

Children benefit from accredited programs because the learning environments meet standards that promote stimulating, positive, and growth-oriented practices. Families benefit from the accreditation process because their children are in learning environments that reflect the research and best practices of the field.

My family uses vouchers for child care. Do Maryland EXCELS programs accept them?

Accepting Child Care Scholarship is at the discretion of individual programs; however, programs that accept Child Care Scholarship vouchers must participate in Maryland EXCELS.

How can I get more information about participating in Maryland EXCELS to my program/provider?

Direct your program to the resources available on the Maryland EXCELS Toolkit, uniquely  designed for providers, or put them in touch with their local Child Care Resource and Referral Center where specialists can assist the program/provider directly.