PULLMAN, Wash.–Washington State University’s Children’s Center was recently granted accreditation by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
The recognition has been achieved by about only 5 percent of early childhood programs nationwide — some 5,618 programs as of September 1997, serving 538,030 children.
“This is a great accomplishment, and I am very proud of all my staff,” Mary Ellen Radziemski, WSU Children’s Center director, said,
NAEYC accreditation is a rigorous, voluntary process by which early childhood programs demonstrate that they meet the national standards of excellence, Radziemski said. Child care centers, preschools, kindergartens and before- and after-school programs are eligible to seek NAEYC accreditation that lasts for three years.
Programs seeking accreditation undergo an intensive self-study, collecting information from parents, teachers, and administrator and thorough classroom observations. They receive an on-site visit, conducted by early childhood professionals, specially trained by NAEYC, to validate the self-study results.
All of the information is independently reviewed by a team of national experts who grant or defer accreditation.
“The heart of NAEYC accreditation focuses on the child’s experience,” said Radziemski. “The process carefully considers all aspects, including health and safety, staffing, staff qualifications, administration and physical environment.
“But the greatest emphasis is on the children’s relationships with the staff and how the program helps each child grow and learn — intellectually, physically, socially and emotionally,” she said.
Barbara Willer, spokesperson for NAEYC, said research supports the value of accreditation for children. Children’s language skills and social skills especially benefit from the better quality found in NAEYC-accredited programs. “These are critical areas for children’s success in school as well as in life,” said Radziemski.
NAEYC accreditation began in 1985, with the first program accredited in 1986. NAEYC is the nation’s oldest and largest organization of early childhood professionals dedicated to improving the quality of early childhood education. NAEYC established accreditation in response to the growing number of American children spending large amounts of time in group settings away from home and the uneven — and often inadequate — consumer protection afforded by state licensing of child care facilities.
vWSU Children’s Center serves approximately 160 children and is divided into two centers. The infants and baby toddlers program is located in the Commons Hall, while the older toddlers to school-aged children are located in facilities on Olympia Avenue.
The center is open to children of WSU students, staff and faculty. It is also licensed by the Department of Social and Health Services.