By Mark Heeter, USAG Schweinfurt Public AffairsJuly 9, 2008
SCHWEINFURT, Germany - The success story of the U.S. Army Garrison Schweinfurt Child Development Center is told in thousands of pages in binders spread throughout the center. And on the playgrounds.
The documents in the binders are the documentation required by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the body which announced June 30 that Schweinfurt's CDC had successfully obtained its accreditation.
"The administration, teaching staff and families of the Schweinfurt Child Development Center are all to be congratulated for being one of the first programs in our country to earn the mark of quality represented by the reinvented NAEYC accreditation system," stated a notification letter sent to the CDC.
Indeed, every member of center can take credit in the achievement.
"I think that every part is important, from the cooks to the cleaning crew," said Mintina Houston, the acting CDC director who followed Arnita Camp-Harrison, who was director when the accrediting body visited in April.
"Everyone has an integral part in this. If (one) part is broken, it's going to affect the whole team," Houston said of the 32-person staff at the center. "I think all the parts are important and have to fit together,"
Every Army CDC undergoes such accrediting, although requirements have become more stringent since the last accreditation visit, according to Audrey Robinson, CDC training and curriculum specialist.
"Overall, there are 450 criteria that are evaluated," Robinson said, noting that they are all explained in great detail in those binders and broken down into various categories.
"We have no clue until that day what room they are going to observe, so when they walk in, they have to see evidence," she added.
The Schweinfurt center met every required criteria and met or exceeded nearly all the criteria by program standard, according to the NAEYC results report. The evaluators also offered nine topic areas for ongoing improvement.
From application to completion, the accreditation took two years, Houston said.
"This is a very in-depth study of your program," she said. "It helps you take an introspect look at your teaching practices."
Among the areas evaluated: relationships, curriculum, teaching, assessment of the children's development and health.
"A lot of people think it's babysitting and just making sure the kids don't make it out the door," said Denise D'Adda, the assistant director who was on-hand during the last accreditation five years ago. "But (we are) teaching; it's a lot of hard work."
"I see a big difference from when I first walked in the door to now. We've all come together and support each other a lot more," D'Adda said.
"There is a lot of organization," she added. "Everyone has to know their part and kind of has to know everyone else's part, so you can support each other."
In addition to maintaining their quality programs and addressing the nine topic areas for ongoing improvement, the CDC is subject to random re-evaluations throughout the 5-year accreditation term.