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Suzanne Buchholz, Reporter
The Garnero Child Care Center at Pierce College Puyallup received accreditation from the National Accreditation Commission for Early Care and Education Programs on Dec. 17.
Receiving accreditation means that the child development center has been recognized for maintaining high standards of quality and professionalism in the services it provides. This includes providing professional developmental opportunities to staff as well as a learning environment to students that fits their individual learning capabilities.
NAC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening the abilities and skills of early learning care professionals for the benefit of their students, according to the association’s website. The organization achieves this by providing quality training and resources to early care centers after assessing whether the centers qualify for accreditation.
NAC bases accreditation on multiple factors such as quality of education, parental involvement and health and safety standards. If NAC decides that these qualifications are met, the school will be eligible for accreditation.
“We provide high-quality early learning environments for children ages 12 months through five years,” Site Supervisor and Pedagogical Leader Ann Slaughter said. “We use online portfolio systems for each child so parents can see the growth and progress of their children during their time with us. We also provide services through Head Start and Early Head Start programs that connect low income families with family support, health, nutrition information and more.”
In order to apply for accreditation, the employees of the child development center underwent a self-study process required by NAC.
This involved assessing such measures as how they track student progress, provide mentoring for educators and interact with students. This process can take anywhere from six months to two years, according to the NAC website.
Once this step was completed, NAC evaluated the results to determine whether they were satisfactory before coming to the college for an in-person evaluation.
“After we completed the self-study and prepared the necessary materials for examination, we had an observer come from the NAC to inspect all paper work and do observations in the classrooms to determine whether our practices were indicative of a high-quality early learning program,” Slaughter said.
Once the visit was finished, the results were sent to the association office to be examined by early care experts, according to the NAC website. These experts determined that the child development center was qualified to be awarded accreditation.
Once the accreditation is awarded, the child development center will have to maintain standards in terms of education and other services to keep it. Slaughter said currently plans are in progress to uphold and improve upon these standards.
“We are always looking for ways to improve,” Slaughter said. “We’re currently participating in the Statewide Quality Rating system known as Early Achievers, which seeks to offer support and feedback to programs in the state who are interested (in) improving the quality of their programs.” [/responsivevoice]
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