HDFS Children’s Programs Earn National NAEYC Accreditation

Programs Among First in Nation to Complete More Rigorous Accreditation Process

February 4, 2008

The Bennett Family Center and the Child Development Laboratory, both located on Penn State’s University Park campus, are among the first early childhood programs to earn accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) – the nation’s leading organization of early childhood professionals. Both facilities are part of Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) Children’s Programs in the College of Health and Human Development.

NAEYC logo

“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 Linda Duerr, director of the Child Development Laboratory. “NAEYC Accreditation lets families in our community know that children in our program are getting the best care and early learning experiences possible.”

The Child Development Laboratory (CDL) was established at Penn State in 1929 as a part-day nursery school and has operated continuously since that date. The program currently serves 56 children from 6 weeks to 6 years of age. The Bennett Family Center, constructed in 2001, serves 120 children from 6 weeks to 6 years of age and also includes an Arts-Integrated Kindergarten class.

The goals of HDFS Children’s Programs are to provide a model of high quality early childhood care and education for children, families, and the community; support the professional development of early childhood educators through outreach activities; serve as a site for undergraduate training and education through observational projects and classroom participation; and support faculty and student research on child development, early childhood education, and parenting.

“Earning NAEYC Accreditation is a credit to the efforts of our teachers and staff and a result of our integration into the University community,” said Wendy Whitesell, director of the Bennett Family Center. “The learning, research and outreach opportunities that our facilities provide to students, faculty and staff enhance the overall quality of care of the children.”

To earn NAEYC Accreditation in the new system, the programs underwent an extensive self-study process, measuring the programs and their services against the ten new 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 that the programs meet each of the ten NAEYC program standards. NAEYC-accredited programs are also subject to unannounced visits during their accreditation, which lasts for five years.

In the 20 years since NAEYC Accreditation was established, it has become a widely recognized sign of high-quality early childhood education.  More than 11,000 programs, serving one million young children, are currently accredited by NAEYC – approximately 8 percent of all preschools and other early childhood programs.  “The new NAEYC Accreditation system raises the bar for preschools, child care centers and other early childhood programs,” said Mark Ginsberg, Ph.D., executive director of NAEYC.  “NAEYC Accreditation is a sign that these programs are leaders in a national effort to invest in high-quality early childhood education, and to help give all children a better start.”

The NAEYC Accreditation system has set voluntary professional standards for programs for young children since 1985.  As of September 2006, the Association’s revised program standards and criteria have introduced a new level of quality, accountability, and service for parents and children in child care programs.  The new standards reflect the latest research and best practices in early childhood education and development.  NAEYC is committed to utilizing the newest studies and analysis on positive child outcomes to ensure young children continue receiving the highest-quality care and education possible.

The NAEYC Accreditation system was created in 1985 to set professional standards for early childhood education, and to help families identify high-quality preschools, child care centers and other early education programs.  To earn NAEYC Accreditation, a program must meet each of the ten NAEYC Early Childhood Program Standards.  Programs are accredited by NAEYC for a five-year period.

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Editors: For additional information, please contact the College of Health and Human Development Office of College Relations at (814) 865-3831 or healthhd@psu.edu.