MAILED: June 27, 2000
Accreditation is a big word for a little kid.
Four-year-old Kyle Nelson has no idea what it means, but he loves coming to the Children's Center at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire to see his friends and teachers.
"My mom hasta let me come here," he said. "Otherwise I would miss them - and playing tag," he said.
For the fifth time in a row, the Children's Center has received accreditation by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. The Children's Center provides care for children of UW-Eau Claire students, faculty and staff, as well as for children of community members.
Holly Rantala, a recent graduate and teacher in the 4-year-old class, said what makes the place special is the people involved there. "The families are wonderful and supportive, and the staff is really excellent," she said.
The NAEYC recognition has been achieved by only 7 percent of early childhood programs nationwide. "This accreditation has a higher standard than a license," said Becky Wuzer, assistant director at the center.
The NAEYC accreditation is a rigorous, voluntary process by which early childhood programs demonstrate that they meet the national standards of excellence. The programs that seek accreditation undergo an intensive self-study, collecting information from parents, teachers, administrators and classroom observations. They receive an on-site visit, conducted by early childhood professionals especially trained by NAEYC.
"The heart of NAEYC focuses on the child's experience," said Barbara Willer, spokesperson for NAEYC.
Research supports the value of accreditation for children, and their language and social skills especially benefit from the better quality found in NAEYC programs, she said.
"These are critical areas for children's success in school as well as life," Willer said.
The Children's Center, which cares for about 66 children ages 2-5, focuses on individual and small group programming with an educational emphasis on subjects such as art, music, science, literature and computers.
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: June 29, 2000