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100% National Accreditation is DOD's Child Care Goal

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 1, 1999 – This story is part of a series of articles on the military's effort to provide quality, affordable child care. For more information, visit the web site special "Formula and Fatigues, Diapers and Duty" at http://www.defenselink.mil/specials/childcare/.

Last fall, the child development center for the Naval District of Washington in Anacostia reached a pinnacle of success. It was accredited by the National Academy of Early Childhood Programs.

Achieving this quality checkmark took teamwork by the center's management, staff and parents, according to Linda Tomlins, child development program administrator. The team did a self-study, rating the center on safety, health, environment, nurturing children, staff training, ratios of caregivers to children and other criteria.

When the team completed making suggested improvements, Tomlins said, "then three validators come in and stay with you for about three days to validate your ratings with what they see."

The academy is the accrediting arm of the National Association for the Education of Young Children. The association, in turn, claims the largest and most widely recognized national, voluntary, professionally sponsored accreditation program for all types of early childhood schools and child care centers.

About 89 percent of all DoD child development centers are nationally accredited. The department aims to reach 100 percent by 2000.

To be accredited, association officials said, early childhood programs voluntarily undergo a comprehensive self-study and must invite an external, professional review that finds them in substantial compliance with association criteria for high-quality early childhood programs. Criteria are aimed at providing a safe and nurturing environment while promoting the physical, social, emotional and intellectual development of young children.

In accredited programs, association officials said, you will see:

  • Frequent, positive, warm interactions among adults and children.
  • Planned learning activities appropriate to children's age and development, such as block building, painting, reading stories, dress-up and active outdoor play.
  • Specially trained teachers, effective administration and ongoing, systematic evaluation.
  • Enough adults to respond to individual children.
  • A healthy and safe environment for children.
  • Regular communication with parents, who are welcome visitors at all times.
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