The Mary Lou O'Connor Child Development and Education Center at Northwest Florida State College is one of the first early childhood programs to earn accreditation under the new system established by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) - the nation's leading organization of early childhood professionals.
To earn NAEYC Accreditation in the new system, the college's Child Development and Education Center went through an extensive self-study process, measuring the program and its services against new NAEYC Early Childhood Program Standards and more than 400 related accreditation criteria. The college's child development center, located on the Niceville campus, has been accredited by NAEYC since 1994 and serves up to 55 children, ages two through five, who are children of the college's students, staff or faculty, as well as children from the community.
In the 20 years since NAEYC Accreditation was established, it has become a widely recognized sign of high-quality early childhood education. More than 11,000 programs, serving one million young children, are currently accredited by NAEYC - approximately 8 percent of all preschools and other early childhood programs. "The new NAEYC Accreditation system raises the bar for preschools, child care centers and other early childhood programs," said Mark Ginsberg, Ph.D., executive director of NAEYC. "The NWF State College Child Development and Education Center's NAEYC Accreditation is a sign that they are a leader in a national effort to invest in high-quality early childhood education, and to help give all children a better start." "We're proud to have earned the mark of quality from NAEYC, and to be recognized for our commitment to reaching the highest professional standards," said Beverly Sandlin, NWF State College's Director of Early Childhood Education. "NAEYC accreditation lets families in our community know that children in our program are getting the best care and early learning experiences possible." "The NAEYC accreditation focuses on the child's experience," said Sandlin. "While the process carefully considers health and safety, staff qualifications, physical environment and other key issues, 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."
In addition to providing child care, the NWF State College center serves as a training site for students who are studying early childhood education and child development and who are working toward the Child Development Associate Credential, a national certification for child care workers. The program received NAEYC Accreditation after an on-site visit by NAEYC assessors. NAEYC-accredited programs are also subject to unannounced visits during their accreditation, which lasts for five years.
The NAEYC Accreditation system has set voluntary professional standards for programs for young children since 1985. As of September 2006, the Association's revised program standards and criteria have introduced a new level of quality, accountability, and service for parents and children in child care programs. The new standards reflect the latest research and best practices in early childhood education and development. NAEYC is committed to utilizing the newest studies and analysis on positive child outcomes to ensure young children continue receiving the highest-quality care and education possible.
The NAEYC Accreditation system was created in 1985 to set professional standards for early childhood education, and to help families identify high-quality preschools, child care centers and other early education programs. To earn NAEYC Accreditation, a program must meet each of the ten NAEYC Early Childhood Program Standards. Programs are accredited by NAEYC for a five-year period.