By CATRINA FRANCIS
Gold Standard Senior Staff Writer
The Fort Knox Child Development Center has once again passed its accreditation, a process which takes the center’s staff about a year of preparation.
Sedrita Jones, the director of the CDC, said the accreditation which is done through the National Association for the Education of Young Children, is an organization
that promotes excellence in the field of early childhood learning and development across the U.S.
“The accreditation showcases the Child, Youth and School Services’ capability of supporting service members, Families and civilians with a quality child care consistent in every field of the NAEYC inspection,” explained Jones. “We are very proud to have earned the mark of quality from the NAEYC and to be recognized for our community to reaching the highest professional standards.
“NAEYC accreditation lets Families in our community know that children in this program are getting the best care and early learning experiences possible.”
Fort Knox’s CDC full day, part day, hourly, prekindergarten and kindergarten programs not only met the NAEYC standards, it exceeded them.
“Our lowest score on the program standard requirements was 88 percent and our classroom observation lowest percentage was 91,” said Jones.
Katherine Box, the CDC’s assistant director, said accreditation sets them apart and the standards are very stringent.
“Our standards are higher, (we) train our teachers better and the ratio goes above and beyond what’s expected,” said Box.
Box pointed out that the center’s ratios are 1-to-4 for infants and 1-to-5 for toddlers in each of the classrooms.
The center’s part-day and strong beginnings prekindergarten programs also received accreditation. Box said the strong beginnings program is similar to the school’s prekindergarten program, which helps bridge the gap between preschool and kindergarten.
“It’s a great program,” she said. “(We were) one of the first centers to have strong beginnings.”
The program is more than a learning environment for the children. Box said the children’s lunch is done like Families would eat at home and they learn table manners and passing food. The children also brush their teeth after each meal.
Box said one of the reasons for the program’s success is the training that’s required by the teachers. She said the teachers are required to complete 13 modules of training which takes about 18 months to complete. She added that they also believe in promoting within and offering encouragement to staff members who decide to further their education.
“We are committed to providing quality services that support readiness and well-being by reducing the conflict between parental responsibilities and mission requirements,” explained Jones. “Soldiers can concentrate on their mission knowing their children are safe and supervised in a high-quality child and youth services program.”
According to Jones, to earn NAEYC accreditation, the CDC went through a yearlong self-study process that measured the quality of its services against the 10 Early Childhood Program Standards and more than 400 other accreditation-related criteria established by the national association. That was followed
by a two-day assessment by NAEYC representatives who also ensured that the program meets each of the 10 program requirements. Accredited facilities like the CDC must maintain the quality of programs at all times. The Fort Knox CDC is subject to unannounced visits by the NAEYC during the accreditation period of five years.
Box said during this five-year time period if the center doesn’t meet the standards; it can lose its accreditation.
“We are very excited about our accomplishment,” said Jones. “During the assessors’ visit, we had to demonstrate that the program meets the national standards to achieve the NAEYC certification; CYSS has actually earned the accreditation by help of dedicated staff members.
“By maintaining our NAEYC accreditation it will show current and potential parents that we are doing the right thing.”