Athens, Ga. – The Child Development Lab at the McPhaul Center of the University of Georgia College of Family and Consumer Sciences is one of the first in the nation to receive accreditation by the National Association for the Education of Young Children under a new system that requires child care programs to meet more than 400 separate criteria.
“Receiving NAEYC accreditation demonstrates the commitment of our teachers and our staff to providing a quality educational experience to all of the children who attend our program,” said CDL Director Amy Kay. “There were a lot of people who put in a lot of work to document what we do and I’m grateful to them.”
In a letter notifying Kay of the CDL’s accreditation, Stephanie Olmore, NAEYC director of program assessment and compliance, commended the program “for promoting positive relationships among all children and adults to encourage each child’s sense of individual worth and belonging as part of a community and to foster each child’s ability to contribute as a responsible community member.”
In the 23 years since NAEYC accreditation was established it has become the gold standard for early childhood education, according to Diane Bales, an associate professor of child and family development in FACS who focuses on early childhood development.
“Achieving NAEYC accreditation, particularly under the new guidelines, takes a long time and is challenging to accomplish,” Bales said. “Programs have to meet standards regarding the physical structure, the curriculum and the qualifications of the teachers that are much stricter than what’s required for state licensure. In addition, the ratio of teachers to children is lower under NAEYC requirements.”
In the case of the CDL, the ratio ranges from one adult for every four children for infants and young toddlers up to a 1-to-6 ratio for children between the ages of 2 and 4.
Bales also noted that receiving NAEYC accreditation is not a one-time accomplishment. According to information provided by NAEYC, the CDL must file annual reports and is subject to unannounced inspections during the course of the next five years. After five years, it must apply for reaccreditation.
Nationally, more than 8,000 programs, serving 1 million young children are currently accredited by NAEYC, which represents about 8 percent of all preschools and other early childhood programs.
The CDL currently serves 91 children from infants through pre-kindergarten.
More information on the Child Development Lab is available at http://www.fcs.uga.edu/cfd/cdl/.