ECPS Module

Overview of the Early Childhood Program Standards

This document presents the Early Childhood Program Standards and Learning Guidelines for Three-and Four-Year Olds. The Program Standards replace the existing Early Childhood Standards for Programs for Three-and Four-Year Olds adopted by the Board in 1988. Programs receiving funding through Community Partnerships for Children (CPC) are required to comply with these Standards. Public school programs that are not licensed by OCCS will need to comply with all these standards. Programs that are already licensed by the Office of Child Care Services (OCCS) need only document that they are meeting those standards that exceed those of OCCS (see chart on next page). The Guidelines for Preschool Learning Experiences are based on the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks. Programs receiving CPC funds must document that they are using these guidelines in developing their curriculum. A process for waivers or variances is described in the section on Accreditation and Evaluation. Massachusetts legislation (M.G.L. Chapter 15, Section 54) directs the Board of Education’s Early Childhood Advisory Council to review standards for prekindergarten programs and make recommendations for changes. The legislation states,   “All programs providing services pursuant to this section shall seek accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children” (NAEYC) and also states that: To develop a common set of program standards and licensing procedures, the Massachusetts Early Childhood Advisory Council brought together a diverse group from across the field of early care and education, including representatives of Head Start, private preschool and child care programs, public school programs, Early Intervention, higher education, the YMCA, OCCS and many other agencies and organizations involved in the care and education of young children. The standards in this document have been carefully developed in accord with the NAEYC accreditation process and meet or exceed the OCCS standards as the law requires. To be sure the standards are as comprehensive as possible, the Council reviewed the program standards of the Massachusetts Office of Child Care Services, Massachusetts Department of Education preschool program standards, the NAEYC Accreditation Standards, and the Head Start Performance Standards. Study grids were created summarizing all four sets of standards in order to create a common set of standards. A draft of this set of program standards and learning guidelines was released for public comment in July 2001 and revised based on public comment.


“The board may establish standards for prekindergarten programs delivering services pursuant to this section, and said standards shall meet or exceed the existing standards of the Office of Child Care Services for programs which serve three and four-year old children, in whole and half-day programs. The board shall collaborate with the Office of Child Care Services, the Massachusetts Association of Day Care Agencies, Parents United for Child Care, the Young Men’s Christian Association of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Independent Child Care Organization, and Head Start to develop for said programs a common set of standards and licensing procedures built around the NAEYC accreditation process.”
(Above text from the ECPS document)

Areas of the Early Childhood Program Standards

Interactions between Staff and Children, and Among Children
Curriculum and Assessment
Physical Environment
Family Involvement
Staff Qualifications and Staff Development
Group Ratio and Size Consistent with Special Education Regulations
Health and Safety
Nutrition and Food Service
Accreditation and Evaluation

Narrated Presentation
PDF Handout
Supplemental Reading





Citation: Stone-McDonald, A., Douglass, A., Love, M., Harding, L. (2011, March 07). ECPS Module. Retrieved November 06, 2014, from UMass Boston OpenCourseware Web site:
Copyright 2014, Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License. Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License