CECE Program Approval

The Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is committed to supporting policies and practices of preschool and kindergarten programs that provide children with the highest quality early childhood education.

The CECE Program Standards

CECE logo

The Comprehensive Early Childhood Education Program Standards for Approval of Preschool and Kindergarten Programs build upon a long history of legislative, state and community commitment to protecting and promoting the health, safety and welfare of Rhode Island’s children. The CECE Program Standards guide the policies and practices of preschool and kindergarten programs committed to providing children with the highest quality early childhood education.

RIDE’s CECE Program Standards reflect the Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s commitment to central elements of high quality early childhood education including the understanding that:

  • In the early childhood years, children develop the foundation upon which subsequent development in all domains of learning is built. These years are crucial to a child’s healthy growth and development.
  • Disparities in what children know, understand and are able to do are evident before they enter school and are strongly associated with social and economic circumstances. Participation in high-quality early childhood education programs helps close these gaps in achievement.
  • Early childhood education programs that implement research-based program standards of quality have been shown to result in positive educational, social, and economic outcomes for both children and society.

CECE Program Approval represents the highest bar in the state’s early learning “quality continuum” which begins at DCYF licensing, progresses through BrightStars, the state’s TQRIS rating process, and culminates in RIDE CECE Approval.

For Families Looking for High-Quality Early Learning Programs

From birth, children are curious and motivated to learn.  During the first five years of life, children’s brains change dramatically.  How, and how well, we think, learn, communicate, concentrate, problem solve and relate to others when we get to school and later in our lives depends on the relationships and the experiences we have during the earliest days, months, and years.  

One of the most critical decisions you make as a family is choosing an early learning environment that will help nurture your child’s learning and development, setting the stage for future learning.

Quality matters! A quality early learning program knows the importance of quality experiences in the early years and implements research-based best practices in their program.  

Full Continuum chart

When you choose an early care and education program for your child in Rhode Island, You can look to Brightstars as an indicator of quality. The more stars a program has, the more research-based best practices are used that support children, families, and the professionals caring for the children. Pre-school programs that have met the highest level of quality are CECE Approved by the Rhode Island Department of Education. 

Find ECE Program

You are the best judge of which program will meet your needs and your child's needs. More information on the types of early learning programs available in Rhode Island and resources to support you in your search can be found on the ExceedRI webpage.

For Programs Seeking RIDE CECE Program Approval

Application Information

Application for CECE Program approval is voluntary. Programs wishing to apply for CECE Initial Approval for one or more classrooms are encouraged to use the self-assessment (link below) to determine approval readiness. The CECE application is completed online. It will be accessible soon via ECEDS and the program portal. 

For more information please contact Lisa Nugent at Lisa.Nugent@ride.ri.gov or 401-222-8465.

CECE Program Standards

Resources for all Rhode Island Early Childhood Education Programs

For early childhood professional development and technical assistance tools, support and resources, including information on Quality Improvement Grants, please visit the Center for Early Learning Professionals (center-elp.org).

Center resources include: