Accreditation in Lactation Education

LEAARC is a review committee for the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), the largest programmatic accreditor in the health sciences field. In collaboration with its Committees on Accreditation, CAAHEP reviews and accredits over 2,000 educational programs in 22 health sciences disciplines. Accreditation of lactation programs is granted to post-secondary academic programs through CAAHEP upon recommendation by LEAARC. CAAHEP accreditation of academic programs is a tool intended to help assure a well-prepared and qualified workforce providing health care services. LEAARC standards reflect what a person needs to know and be able to do to function successfully as a lactation consultant.

Programs qualifying for accreditation are taught in a post-secondary academic institution and follow standards established by LEAARC to provide students with a broad base of support coursework to serve as a foundation for lactation consultant practice, as well as the core competencies for lactation consultant practice. LEAARC will review the applicant’s detailed self-study, followed by an on-site evaluation where site visitors will meet with program personnel and students. LEAARC will then make a recommendation to CAAHEP who will act on the recommendation and grant accreditation to programs that meet LEAARC’s standards.

Beginning a Program in Human Lactation

A lactation consultant program fits perfectly within a 2-year post-secondary curriculum for both certificate and degree programs. It can be used at the associate, bachelor and masters levels. Entering students can be high school graduates as well as health care professionals who seek an add-on credential. Health education courses required by lactation consultants mirror those of other allied health students within the academic community. Clinical instruction can occur in facilities with which colleges already have existing relationships. Partnering with health clinic and physician offices can provide additional clinical experience. Local IBCLCs can teach the lactation content and when the program is in place, LEAARC can help with the process of applying for accreditation. Learn more about why you should begin a program for lactation consultants. Find resources here for beginning a program.

Hear what one program director says about a lactation consultant program in a university school of health.

What Is Accreditation?

Accreditation is an effort to assess the quality of institutions, programs and services, measuring them against agreed-upon standards and thereby assuring that they meet those standards. Institutional accreditation helps to assure potential students that a school is a sound institution and has met certain minimum standards in terms of administration, resources, faculty and facilities. Programmatic accreditation examines specific schools within an educational institution using standards developed by the professionals involved in the discipline. The CAAHEP process grants programmatic accreditation.
Find more resources on Accreditation here.

Qualifying for CAAHEP Accreditation

A lactation program must meet the following LEAARC Standards to qualify for CAAHEP accreditation. See the full LEAARC Standards and Guidelines for more details.

  1. Taught in a post-secondary academic institution accredited by an institutional accrediting agency or other acceptable authority to provide a postsecondary program which awards a minimum of a certificate/diploma at the completion of the program.
  2. Program director with a graduate degree and appointment in the sponsor’s academic institution.
  3. Faculty for didactic and supervised clinical practice who are certified lactation consultants for 5 years or more.
  4. Broad base of support coursework to serve as a foundation for lactation consultant practice.
  5. Core competencies for lactation consultant practice.

Applying for CAAHEP Accreditation

There are five steps in the application process. See LEAARC’s Accreditation Procedures for more details for each step in the process. Also see Becoming Accredited for resources and links.

  1. The program completes the CAAHEP Request for Accreditation Services.
  2. The program conducts a Self-Study and submits the report to LEAARC.
  3. The program undergoes an On-Site Evaluation by AARC site visitors.
  4. LEAARC reviews the Self-Study Report and site visitor report and makes a recommendation to CAAHEP.
  5. The CAAHEP Board of Directors meets to act on the recommendation from LEAARC.

Students

Check out the "Specialized and Professional Accreditation: What Should I Know?" video from YouTube. This video can answer your questions on the importance of accreditation to your education.