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February 14, 2014
By
Maranda Flynn
Source: www.army.mil

The Fort Huachuca Child Development Programs, the New Beginnings and Expanding Horizons Child Development Center and the Part Day Strong Beginnings Program located in the School Age Center, received notification that they earned the National Association for the Education of Young Children, or NAEYC, accreditation Jan. 24.

The NAEYC is the nation?'s leading organization of early childhood professionals.

"We're proud to have earned the mark of quality from NAEYC and to be recognized for our commitment to reaching the highest professional standards," said Maria Lopez Velazquez, director, Child Development Center Programs. "The NAEYC accreditation lets Families in our community know that children in our programs are getting the best care and early learning experiences possible."
This is the first accreditation for Expanding Horizons and the Strong Beginnings Program, and a renewal accreditation for New Beginnings.

The centers offer full-day care, part-day preschool, Army Strong Beginnings pre-kindergarten, and hourly care for the children of Fort Huachuca Soldiers and Civilians. Their mission is to reduce the conflict between parental responsibilities and work requirements by providing enriching experiences, a safe environment, and warm, loving care and education for young children.

To earn NAEYC accreditation, the facilities went through an extensive self-study process, measuring the program and its services against the 10 NAEYC Early Childhood Program Standards and more than 400 related accreditation criteria. The programs received NAEYC accreditation after an on-site visit by NAEYC assessors to ensure the programs met each of the standards.

The centers earned 100 percent in three of the 10 core standards: relationships, teaching and leadership and management.

Lopez Velazquez contributes the center's success to the entire staff. "This team really pulled together," she said. "It was a lot of Saturdays. It was quite a few evenings … quite a few times of them staying longer hours to get things done like getting the paper work right, or the classroom?'s environment right. I am very proud of them."

NAEYC accredited programs are also subject to unannounced visits during their accreditation period, which lasts five years. "You can work to get accredited … but it's that maintenance part of it that is so important," Lopez Velazquez said. "That way, when the next [accreditation period] comes around, you pretty much have it done … that?'s what keeps us committed to our quality."

In the 25 years since NAEYC accreditation was established, it has become a widely recognized sign of high-quality early childhood education. More than 7,000 programs are currently accredited by NAEYC -- approximately eight percent of all preschools and other early childhood programs.

"The NAEYC accreditation system raises the bar for child care centers and other early childhood programs," said Jerlean Daniel, Ph.D., executive director of NAEYC. "Having earned NAEYC accreditation is a sign that the Fort Huachuca Child Development Centers are leaders in a national effort to invest in high-quality early childhood education."

The NAEYC accreditation system has set voluntary professional standards for programs for young children since 1985. In September 2006, the association revised standards and criteria to introduce a new level of quality, accountability and service for parents and children in child care programs. The new standards today reflect the latest research and best practices in early childhood education and development.