Credential, Certificate, Certification and Accreditation, OH MY: Why these 4 words do not all mean the same thing


You will find a great deal of misinformation regarding what it means for a program to be a certificate program, a certification program, and a credentialing program, as well as what it means to be accredited. INA would like to help everyone understand the differences, as we move forward with developing an In-home Childcare Certification Program.

Credential – Currently, the INA has a Nanny Credential Exam. A credential is an attestation of qualification, competence or authority on a particular subject. In INA’s case, when you pass the Credential Exam, you have shown that you have the knowledge needed to care for children in someone’s home.

Certificate – A certificate is given when someone takes a particular class and passes an exam based on what was learned in that class.  One cannot take the exam if one has not taken the class, so this exam is directly linked to a particular school or training program.

Certification – This is the process of proving you have the experience, knowledge, and skills previously developed. There is no specific class or group of classes that you are required to take, but testing is done through providing proof that those skills have already been developed. A test is given and must be passed, however, one must also prove time spent developing the skills and understanding in regards to the topic of choice, therefore competency is also evaluated through the process. In other words, a training program may not provide the training and the certification, also know as self-certifying.

Accreditation – This refers to the process that a certificate or certification program must take to be developed. The NCCA or National Commission for Certifying Agencies is one of the bodies we have found through our research who has the authority to recommend accreditation in the United States. While the U.S. does not require companies and organizations that have certificate and certification programs to be accredited, having an accredited program will provide accountability and prestige to the program, which is why the INA is looking into this as a possibility, moving forward.

In addition to businesses and associations like INA earning accreditation specific to their industry, schools and child development centers also work to earn them as well. Schools work to meet accreditation requirements to demonstrate accountability and quality educational programs of study. In turn, this allows the school the ability for its students to apply for federal money to attend. Child development centers work toward earning accreditation so they can demonstrate quality care and best practices to attract more families. Accreditation’s can be state specific or national.  In many cases, the national accreditation is the most valuable. In either case, the process sets high expectations and guidelines that must be proven over a period of time. Most accrediting bodies require a re-accreditation process to ensure continued quality. To learn more about these terms, we recommend you visit the ICE (Institute for Credentialing Excellence) website.

The INA Board of Directors is working with several companies that specialize in helping organizations to develop certification programs that will be able to pass the process of accreditation. This process, however, is long and costly. If you feel that it is important for INA to develop this program, show your support by sharing your thoughts on our Facebook page and by filling out the survey through the link below.

NCS & Nannies:  Take the survey now!

Families: Take the survey now!



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