FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. - Fort Meade's Child Development Center I received notice Sept. 23 of its fourth re-accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

"This is a great benchmark to pass," said Derrick Trautman, the center's executive director for the past two years. "We can set our goals even higher."

NAEYC, the nation's leading organization for early childhood professionals, has set a voluntary system of rigorous professional standards for programs for young children since 1985. The organization's accreditation is valid for five years.

"It's a real honor to be re-accredited. It reflects the quality of our care," said Madeline Morey, child administrator for Child, Youth and School Services, who oversees Fort Meade's Child Development Centers and manages the Family Child Care Program.

CDC I was last accredited by NAEYC in 2006. CDC II received its last accreditation three years ago and CDC III received its first accreditation two years ago.

CDC I underwent an extensive self-study process, measuring its programs and services against 10 NAEYC early-childhood program standards and more than 400 related accreditation criteria in a wide range of areas. They include: curriculum, health care standards, supervision, faculty management, and training and professional development.

Trautman said for the first time, NAEYC required the center's staff of educators, who work in more than 10 classrooms, to prepare portfolios that provided a photographic account of their work.

"The staff really did an excellent job of working together," Trautman said. "It was great to see, as a new executive director. It required a lot of team work."

CDC I received NAEYC accreditation after an onsite visit by two NAEYC assessors in mid-July to ensure that the center met each of the 10 program standards. The self-study process included a parent survey of the center's programs and services.

CDC l currently serves 232 children full-time and 26 on an hourly basis. A staff of 50 serve the youngsters, who range from 6 weeks old to age 5. Trautman works with an assistant director.

Morey said that to retain its NAEYC accreditation, CDC I and the other Child Development Centers on Fort Meade must be prepared for a visit at any time.

Army regulations require surprise monthly inspections at all Child Development Centers on post. They are conducted by the Directorate of Emergency Services, the Installation Safety Office and the Preventive Medicine Department at Kimbrough Ambulatory Care Center.

An annual surprise inspection is also conducted by the garrison commander in conjunction with the Installation Management Command's G9 division.

These inspections are conducted to ensure the centers operate in accordance with Army, fire, health and safety standards.