The next best thing to sliced bread isn\'t always peanut butter and jelly. The next best thing might just be the person who taught your child how to make that sandwich.

The Fort McPherson Child Development Center (CDC) is ranked high in meeting standards, according to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) - the nation's organization of early childhood center accreditation.

The CDC has earned its accreditation for 15 years, consecutively. Programs are accredited by NAEYC for a five-year period.

Col. Deborah Grays, commander, U.S. Army Garrison, said, "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.

NAEYC accreditation lets Families in our community know that children in our program are getting the best care and early learning experiences possible."

Fort McPherson's center serves 95 of the one million young children who attend centers accredited by NAEYC.

Only about 8 percent of all preschools and other early childhood programs are accredited, according to NAEYC.

The amended Military Child Care Act of 1996 requires all military child care centers to meet standards and become accredited centers. Fort McPherson completed an extensive self-study process, where the staff evaluates the CDC program for needed improvements to meet each of the 10 NAEYC early childhood program standards and more than 500 related accreditation criteria.

Those standards are:

- Build relationships that include interactions between the children and adults.

- Promote learning and social, emotional, physical, language and cognitive development.

- Use developmentally, culturally and linguistically appropriate and effective teaching methods that enhance each child's learning and development.

- Conduct assessments that provide information on children's learning development.

- Provide an environment conducive to the nutrition, health and safety of children and staff workers.

- Employ and support a staff that has the educational qualifications, knowledge and professional commitment necessary to promote children's learning and development and to support Families' diverse needs and interests.

- Create relationships that are sensitive to family composition, language and culture.

- Establish relationships with and use the resources of the Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem communities to support the achievement of program goals.

- Have an appropriate and well-maintained indoor and outdoor physical environment to support child and staff learning and development.

- Effectively implement policies, procedures and systems that support a stable staff and strong personnel, fiscal and program management, so children, Families and staff have high-quality experiences.

"Our program received NAEYC accreditation after an on-site visit by NAEYC assessors and board reviewers to ensure the program meets those standards," said Jane Barnard, Child, Youth and School Services coordinator.

"NAEYC-accredited programs are also subject to unannounced visits. We've received an outstanding rating each time."

Most parents hesitate or even cringe at the thought of leaving their children with strangers at a daycare center; however, parents who have inquired about the CDC program put their names on a sometimes-long waiting list with anticipation.

"I consider myself a very concerned and active parent and am not so quick to trust other people with the care of my child," remarked Staff Sgt.

Jessica Poirrier, paralegal NCO for the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate at U.S. Army Central.

"I believe that each one of the faculty members at the CDC is more than qualified to care for my child. They are very experienced people from the director down to the food service specialist [Haroldine Benford].

Her food is the best! They pay very close attention to the individual child and not just the children as a group."

At the CDC, children are learning more than how to make a good sandwich; they are developing their gross motor and social skills, while creating lasting friendships.

"The CDC staff is "constantly working with the parents to show us ways to help our children learn both academically and socially at home, so they will do better in school," Poirrier proclaims. "They are good at teaching the child behavior norms, to include proper manners, which is very important because a lot of children these days appear to be 'out of control' because they do not get the appropriate leadership from their parents or other adult figures in their lives."

"Our goal is to continue to give the children the best care and instructions there are to offer," said Yvette Walker, training and curriculum specialist at the CDC. "The staff at the CDC epitomize the title 'teacher.' I recommend their services to all my friends," said Poirrier.

Page last updated Wed November 26th, 2008 at 12:34