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UDMO Head Start Earns National NAEYC Accreditation

By Staff | Feb 10, 2009

UDMO’s Head Start Program located at Iowa Lakes Community College in Emmetsburg is one of 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. Emmetsburg Head Start Teacher Jacky Hersleff and Assistant Teacher Linda Jensen worked diligently during the past two years to ensure that the local classroom completed the rigorous accreditation process and was recognized nationally for its efforts.

“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 Connie Siebenbruner, Early Childhood Programs Director. “NAEYC accreditation lets families in our community know that children in our program are getting the best care and early learning experiences possible.”

To earn NAEYC accreditation in the new system, UDMO’s Iowa Lakes Community College Head Start program went through an extensive self-study process, measuring the program and its services against the ten new NAEYC Early Childhood Program Standards and more than 400 related accreditation criteria. The program received NAEYC accreditation after an on-site visit by NAEYC assessors to ensure that the program meets 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 eight 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 of UDMO’s Iowa Lakes Community College Head Start center is a sign that they are a leader 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.

Applications are now being taken for the Head Start preschool program, which will begin in the fall of 2009. Any child who is age 3 or 4 by Sept. 15, 2009 is encouraged to apply. Call UDMO’s central office at 800-245-6151 to receive program and transportation information.