The Fort Detrick Child Development Center recertified its accreditation with the National Association for the Education of Young Children Sept. 26. Accreditation distinguishes the CDC from other early childhood programs by demonstrating the center’s commitment to a higher, more stringent standard in teaching and caring for its children.
NAEYC accreditation must be renewed every five years. According to CDC director Cathy Box, NAEYC inspectors give the CDC a two-to-three month window when they will conduct an unannounced inspection of the facility as part of the recertification program. Box shared that she was unfazed at the prospect of inspectors dropping by at any given time.
“Everyday needs to feel like inspectors are going to conduct a walk-through of the program,” said Box. “If you are running a NAEYC program, you are implementing the high standards set through accreditation daily.”During the Center’s most recent inspection, NAEYC representatives visited classrooms and observed sessions. They assessed all aspects of the learning environment from cleanliness practices such as whether the kids washed their hands upon arrival, to how teachers engaged with the children. For example, the inspectors observed whether teachers asked open-ended questions that encouraged thought and imagination.
“Accreditation helps parents picking a pre-school or other early childhood education program feel confident that they are enrolling their child in a program that meets national quality standards,” said Box.Box noted the Fort Detrick CDC has lower child-teacher ratios, which promotes better teacher and child interactions. She added the center understands that children learn best through play and offers a wide variety of activities in and out of the classroom.
“It’s amazing what a child can learn playing at a water table and combining two colors or observing butterflies at our butterfly pavilion,” she said.
In addition to its NAEYC accreditation, the Fort Detrick CDC is U.S. Department of Defense certified and undergoes annual Army Child, Youth and School inspections.
“I’m very proud of our teachers for maintaining the great standards we adhere to and will continue to follow at the center,” said Box.
The next NAEYC inspection will be in five years. Since 1985, NAEYC’s national accreditation system has set professional standards for children from birth to age 8. Its mission is to improve professional practice and working conditions in young children’s education.