Research has demonstrated that children who receive quality early childhood services, such as those identified in the Quality Standards, are eager and open to learning, demonstrate better long-term gains from their educational experiences, and become more productive citizens of their community. Therefore, the intent of the Quality Standards is to achieve a reorientation of thinking and practice across a range of providers and to bring all programs of care and education for young children and families into a common framework. This common framework will promote a seamless system of quality care and education.
The Quality Standards document is designed to serve as a guide as well as an indication of quality for all early childhood education providers. The standards are applicable to all services and providers, regardless of setting, as a means of fostering programs that incorporate education, child care, health, nutrition, social services, parent education, and family support. Implementation of the standards will ease the transition between services for families and children, ensure that services are developmentally and individually appropriate, encourage community-based responsibility and collaboration, and support families’ strengths, needs, and diversity.
The following guiding principles were used in the development of this document:
- Families are respected and recognized as the first and most important teachers and key decision makers for their children.
- Learning for all children occurs within the context of their families and communities; therefore, learning experiences must be integrated and should encompass the whole child.
- Comprehensive early childhood education integrates parent education and family support programs, child care, health, and social services with education.
- All environments for young children are educational.
- Early childhood education provides comprehensive services to children birth through eight years of age.
- Comprehensive early childhood programs follow developmentally appropriate practices addressing both age and individual characteristics of children and their families.
- Every child is unique; therefore, programs will respond to individual differences, interests, and needs.
- All stakeholders are accountable for facilitating children’s access to quality care, education, and family support services.
- Partnerships and successful coordination and integration services are necessary to make early childhood experiences the foundation for lifelong learning.