University’s Child Enrichment Center Earns National Accreditation

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo.,

July 27, 2006 – The Child Enrichment Center at Southeast Missouri State University has been accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

Amy Blackman, director of the full-day Center, said it received word this week of the recognition, which is for a five-year period. With this designation, the Center is now one of just two child care facilities in southeast Missouri recognized by NAEYC.

“The staff has worked very hard to attain this acknowledgement,” she said. “I am proud that we are able to offer such high quality services to children and families in our community.”

NAEYC accreditation is recognized across the country as the mark of quality education for young children. NAEYC accreditation is the strongest system available to early childhood education programs, providing them with the tools and assistance they need to continuously improve their programs and meet NAEYC’s stringent program standards.

NAEYC accreditation recognizes the Center’s commitment to providing to providing a high quality program for young children and their families. While the NAEYC accreditation among staff and children and the developmental appropriateness of the curriculum – what really happens to the children, Blackman said. Health and safety, staffing, staff qualifications, physical environment, and administration are all reviewed during accreditation, but primary consideration is given to the notion of the child’s experience, she said.

“High quality is important for children and families, so parents can be reassured their children are in good hands,” Blackman said.

NAEYC accredited programs implement a curriculum that foster all areas of child development: cognitive, emotional, language, physical and social. Blackman says NAEYC accredited programs provide a proper balance of academics, health, safety and fun.

The University Child Enrichment Center is located at 1912 Broadway in Cape Girardeau. The Center currently maintains six classrooms with one infant classroom serving children six weeks to about 12 months, depending on the development and readiness of children for the next classroom. The Center also has two toddler classrooms, each serving eight children from about 12 months to two years, depending on the child’s development. The two-year-old classroom serves 14 two-year-olds. The Center also has two preschool classrooms, serving 20 three- to five-year-olds in each, Blackman said.

Blackman says the Center is fortunate to have staff with academic degrees in each of the classrooms. Each staff member also must receive training throughout the year to stay current with trends in the early childhood education field. The program is administered by a full-time director with a master’s degree and an operations supervisor. Two graduate assistants and student employees sup

The Center acts as a lab school for students majoring in child development, early childhood education, nursing, music and physical education. This allows students the opportunity to implement activities and interact with the children in the classrooms.

The program began in November 1998, serving 16 children ages 3 to 5 years. In July 2000, the program added an Early Head Start infant and toddler program serving 16 children from birth through three years old.

As the Center’s enrollment increased, the need for more space became an issue. This need led to the creation of a partnership between Dr. Shelba Branscum, faculty advisor for the program, and Janet Goodin, owner and operator of the Community Day Child Care Program in Cape Girardeau. The Child Enrichment Center then relocated from the Scully Building on campus to the existing Community Day Child Care Program, allowing the Center to increase its enrollment from three to six classrooms, Blackman said.

She says the accreditation process began in February 2005 when the Center applied with NAEYC for the designation. The Center completed a self-study, and families had an opportunity to evaluate and give input about the program. The validated self-study, including Blackman’s response to the validation visit, was reviewed by a national commission of recognized experts in child care and early childhood education. The commission judged the Center to be in substantial compliance with NAEYC criteria and granted accreditation for five years.