Maryland EXCELS Toolkit  

Accreditation Certificate

Quality child care and early education are delivered in quality environments. Accreditation demonstrates that a program meets quality standards set by a local or national organization. The accreditation process serves as a guide for programs to evaluate their policies and practices and develop plans for improvement. It also validates that a program uses quality processes and procedures in delivering care and educating children.

Maryland EXCELS supports programs as they progress through the accreditation process and work to achieve significant milestones.

illustration of small figures climbing stairs with a flag at the top
Make Your Way to the Top

This section explains the requirements for Accreditation and Rating Scales: Accreditation: ACR 1.5. To meet these requirements, you will upload verification that your program is accredited by an organization recognized by the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE).

Select the Requirements tab to learn about the documentation needed for your program type.


Let's look at the requirements for Accreditation and Rating Scales: Accreditation: ACR 1.5. Key requirements are marked by a bright dot. Select each dot for information about the documentation you need to submit to meet the requirements.

Select the option that applies to your program type:


  Child Care Center

  Family Child Care

  School-Age Only
ACR 1.5: Accreditation Accreditation awarded by an organization recognized by MSDE. and program remains in good standing with accrediting body. Documentation to submit: Current Accreditation Letter or Certificate



To meet the requirements for Accreditation and Rating Scales: Accreditation: ACR 1.5, you will upload:

  • A current letter or certificate of accreditation
  • Documentation from an accrediting agency recognized by MSDE that your program’s annual report was received.

NOTE: The Maryland Accreditation program does not require an annual report. Therefore, no annual report is required if your program is accredited through MSDE.

Accreditation Certificate or Letter

Accreditation involves a process of reflection and evaluation aimed at demonstrating quality practices and a commitment to ongoing improvement. A program that chooses to pursue accreditation completes a self-study, plans for improvement, participates in a site visit by the accrediting organization, and maintains its accreditation status according to the accrediting organization’s policies. Accreditation processes vary depending on the accrediting organization.


What does the documentation look like?

You will upload the letter or certificate of accreditation your program received from an accreditation organization recognized by MSDE.

NOTE: Programs that are accredited by NAFCC will upload a certificate with the date the program first received accreditation, including any annual renewal stickers.


How can you tell if you're on the right track?

You are on the right track if your program received a certificate or letter of accreditation from an accreditation organization recognized by MSDE and your accreditation is current. Follow the timeline of your accrediting organization to be sure your program’s accreditation status remains current.


Where can you learn more?

Accreditation information is available on the Maryland EXCELS website and the Maryland State Department of Education’s website, including a list of MSDE-recognized accrediting organizations.

Maryland EXCELS website

Accreditation - Maryland Excels

Accreditation is a method by which a program demonstrates to an outside organization or agency that the program is meeting the quality standards set by that organization. MSDE recognizes national accrediting agencies as aligning with the overall mission and high standards for early care and school-age child care and public school in the state of Maryland.

Maryland State Department of Education Division of Early Childhood Development website

Early Childhood Development

Maryland Accreditation is a process in which programs commit to continuous quality improvement, to benefit children, families and staff. NEW!! Revised Accreditation Standards effective July 1, 2016! We are very pleased to announce the revised Accreditation Standards are finalized and ready for implementation.

Final Touches

Check your document as you prepare to upload it to the Maryland EXCELS System.


Check to be sure your documentation includes:


Use any one of these formats:

  • Scanned copy of the accreditation certificate or letter (examples: PDF, PNG, JPG)
  • Documentation that an annual report was received if required by the accrediting organization (examples: PDF, PNG, JPG)

Next Steps

Use the following guide to upload your documentation, look ahead, and think about a plan for ongoing improvement.


Step 1: Prepare to Upload Your Document

  • Locate your username and password for logging into your Maryland EXCELS account
  • Locate where you saved your written document on the computer

Step 2: Look Ahead and Plan for Improvement

Look Ahead

Congratulations! If your program meets the requirements for Accreditation and Rating Scales: Accreditation: ACR 1.5, your Program Coordinator will identify an accreditation pathway for your program. This pathway allows the Maryland EXCELS System to identify specific areas within the system where your program automatically meets requirements as a result of its accreditation status.

Plan for Improvement

Each accrediting organization has its own requirements for maintaining accreditation. Set a goal to review the requirements of the organization that accredited your program. Note key deadlines and map out a plan for submitting the required documentation to keep your program’s accreditation status current.


Step 3: Upload Your Documentation (ACR 3.5)

Log in to the Maryland EXCELS System to upload your documentation.

screenshot of Maryland EXCELS upload screen with a comment box
Upload Documentation