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National Program Standards

Crosswalk Tool


The Office of Child Care’s National Center on Child Care Quality Improvement (NCCCQI) is pleased to provide this online program standards crosswalk tool that is prepopulated with national early childhood program standards (e.g., Head Start, accreditation, Caring for our Children).  This tool is designed to help States that are developing and aligning program standards for licensing, quality rating and improvement systems, and/or prekindergarten programs, to search and compare the content of several sets of national standards. NCCCQI is commencing this project on behalf of and in support of the Office of Child Care’s Pathways and Partnerships for Child Care Excellence work plan.

Program standards describe the expected structure and practices of early care and education settings and often represent definitions of quality that aim to have a positive impact on children’s learning and development. Standards are just one element of a system for continuous program quality improvement. Standards must work in concert with rigorous program assessment and monitoring processes, supports for programs seeking to improve quality (e.g., improvement plans, technical assistance, professional development, etc.), meaningful incentives for improvement, and mechanisms to inform consumers and the public about quality improvement efforts and achievements.

The early care and education field has multiple sets of program standards, and the content of those standards varies widely. States seeking to develop quality improvement systems often engage in a process to review and align the content of various program standards available in the field. Early care and education providers are better able to understand the path to high quality care when the various standards they must meet have similar categories of standards and use consistent terminology. This National Standards Crosswalk Tool was developed to help States and save them time and money by making several sets of national standards available in one online database with an easy-to-use search mechanism.

Statement of Intended Use

The National Standards Crosswalk Tool was developed for state policy makers interested in aligning state and national program standards. It is not intended as a guide for programs seeking to meet these standards or achieve accreditation. The accreditation standards included in this tool are from copyrighted materials. Users must contact the agencies and organizations that administer those standards to receive a complete set of the standards and additional guidance. Contact information is available in the About the Standards section.

To find and view comparable standards using the Crosswalk tool, follow these four steps:


Step 1 - Choose Topics:

In this crosswalk tool, users can view program standards across the following 10 topic areas and several subtopic areas. These general topic areas where chosen after reviewing the variouse ways States, agencies, and organizations categorize program standards. They are not meant to suggest any particular framework for categorizing standards.

  1. Children with Special Needs
  2. Eligibility, Recruitment & Transition
  3. Family & Community Partnerships
  4. Health & Safety
  5. Learning Environemnt & Practices
  1. Nutrition
  2. Peronnel Management & Human Resources
  3. Program Administration
  4. Supporting Skill Development
  5. Transportation

The first step in the process involves choosing topics and subtopics for your crosswalk. As you roll your mouse over each Topic, a list of Subtopics will appear. Move your mouse to the right and check the box(es) to select Subtopics.

Click the Select button and the topics and subtopics you choose will appear in a box on the ar right of the screen. There is no limit on how many Topics and Subtopics can be chosen.

To remove a Subtopic selection, uncheck your option using the same method used for selection and click on the Select button to update your search criteria list.

Once you have selected all applicable Topics and Subtopics, click the Find Standards button to move on to step 2.


Step 1 - Keyword Search:

You may also search the standards by entering a keyword search in the Search Keyword box. After entering a search term, click Find Standards adn a box iwll appear that lists the topics and subtopics where there are standards that contain that keyworks. You can them omve on to step 2.


Step 2 - Review Standards by Organization:

When you click the Find Standards button from either choosing topics and subtopics or a keyword search, a table will appear below that shows all of your selections with counts of the indicators found for each of the Standards. Scroll down the screen to view this table.

This table provides an overview of how many indicators are in the standards that address the topics you have chosen and can be used to determine whether to include particular standards in your crosswalk. For example, if the number "5" appears for a chosen subtopic in the Caring for Our Children (CFOC3) standards column, that means there are five separate indicators in CFOC3 that address that subtopic and CFOC3 would be a good choice for your crosswalk. If there is a "0", then there are no indicators and you would know not to choose those standards for your crosswalk.


Step 3 - Choose Standards to View:

Click box to the left of the Standard you would like to include in your crosswalk. You may only select up to three Standards for a search. Once you have selected up to three Standards, click on the Run Crosswalk button to view your results.

The following sets of national program standards where used to populate the crosswalk. The sources for the Standards are available in the About the Standards section.

  1. Head Start Program Performance Standards (HS)
  2. Department of Defense Instruction 6060.2 — Child Development Programs; and Department of Defense Effectiveness Rating and Improvement System Standards for Child Care Programs (DOD)
  3. Caring for Our Children: National Health and Safety Performance Standards: Guidelines for Early Care and Education Programs, 3rd Edition; and Stepping Stones o Caring for Our Children, 3rd Edition (CFOC3)
  4. National Association for the Education of Young Children Academy for Early Childhood Program Accreditation (NAEYC)
  5. Council on Accreditation After School Program Standards (COA-AS)
  6. National Accreditation Commission for Early Care and Education Programs — Components of Accreditation Standards (NAC)
  7. National Early Childhood Program Accreditation (NECPA)
  8. National Association for Family Child Care, Quality Standards for NAFCC Accreditation, Fourth Edition (NAFCC)
  9. REACH Accreditation Manual for Early Education Stand-alone Programs; Association for Christian Schools International (ASCI)


Step 4 - Compare Standards:

Your results will list all of your selected Standards in a column format. Each Topic/Subtopic is separated by a break that displays the name of the Topic/Subtopic. To refine or change your search, click on the Modify Search button in the upper right corner of the page. To start a new search, click on the New Search button. You may also access a Printer Friendly version of your data by clicking the Print Icon.

You can download the results of your search by clicking the Export to Excel icon. A microsoft Excel file will be generated that includes the standards from your search. Columns with the national standards cannot be edited, but there are empty columns for adding in your State's licensing requirements and QRIS standards for comparison with national standards. This file can be saved on your computer for future use.