State Certification, Licensure and Credentialing Overview
States and state agencies use a variety of mechanisms to indicate that providers of services to young children and their families are appropriately qualified. These include state certification, licensure, and credentialing.
In general, state certification is provided by state Departments of Education to teachers and related service providers.
This certification should be differentiated from some professions' national certification [e.g., speech-language pathologists and audiologists may be certified by ASHA (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association).]
States may also control the practice of some professions using state licensure, with regulations established by the state's legislature.
Support personnel may be regulated by licensure or through registration, which typically involves fewer controls.
In addition, states may establish a separate credentialing process to govern the provision of services to a specific group, such as young children with disabilities and their families.
For example, some states have established a set of competencies for early interventionists and/or services coordinators which must be met by all those who deliver such services, regardless of certification or licensing standards they may have met within their professions.
In a similar fashion, states may have specific credentials for those who deliver services to children with specific disabilities, such as autism. These credentials typically require additional coursework and/or professional experience.
Programs may also need to be credentialed. Pre-service provider training programs may have certification requirements that assure consumers that their graduates are appropriately qualified. Agencies and programs that deliver services to children with disabilities and their families may also need to meet accreditation standards.
The ECTA Center's topical page on Service Coordination provides an overview of this mandated Part C service. It includes examples of states' on-line courses or modules that are part of a credentialing or qualification process for service coordinators and other early intervention providers.
COPSSE has also published several Issue Briefs, which synthesize literature on supply and demand, professional preparation, and certification and licensure for the following professionals who provide services in schools to children with disabilities:
The Monarch Center promotes the participation of minority institutions of higher education in IDEA personnel preparation grant competitions as well as supporting recruitment and retention of qualified personnel.