A national organization focused on raising the standards of early childhood education has acknowledged that The University of Southern Mississippi’s Center for Child Development meets its rigorous standards for accreditation.
The Center earned the accreditation designation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) this year, signifying that it meets national standards of quality for early childhood programs. For more than 80 years, the NAEYC has advocated for the advancement of standards for similar programs across the country.
“We’re very proud of reaching the milestone of NAEYC accreditation. It takes a team effort to reach this goal. All of the CCD teachers worked hard, including extra hours and weekends, to accomplish this,” said Dr. Sheila Brookes, assistant professor of child and family studies and executive director of the center.
The CCD is an academic laboratory that operates under the auspices of the Department of Child and Family Studies in the College of Education and Psychology. It offers early care and education program for children of the university’s faculty, staff and students, as well as community members.
The center also provides training experiences for Southern Miss students, including undergraduates from the Department of Child and Family Studies the School of Nursing; the Department of Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education (CISE); and graduate students in early intervention, child and family studies and education.
In 2006, after years of overhauling its voluntary accreditation program, NAEYC unveiled a new, more stringent accreditation process. Benchmarks include the Early Childhood Program Standards related to children (relationships, curriculum, teaching, assessment of child progress and health), teachers (qualifications, knowledge and experience), family and community partners (relevant partnerships with families and the community) and program administration (physical environment, leadership, and management).
“The NAEYC accreditation affirms the high standards maintained by the center for quality child care and parent involvement, provided in conjunction with excellent academic programs for our Southern Miss students,” said Dr. Ann Blackwell, interim dean of the College of Education and Psychology.
Brookes joined the faculty of the Department of Child and Family Studies 2007. She has been involved with the CCD informally since she supervised students placed in the center’s classrooms for labs/practicum. She became its executive director in January.
“While the CCD has been accredited in the past, meeting the new criteria required through NAEYC’s revised accreditation program makes this a significant triumph for the center,” she said.
The CCD has eight lead teachers who instruct and guide children ages eight weeks through five years of age. These teachers also supervise student teacher candidates, lab students from a variety of degree programs, and teacher’s assistants who often are university work study students. The center is currently at full capacity with 85 children enrolled full-time.
Brookes said her goals for the CCD include development of an endowment to provide full or partial scholarships for families needing assistance to secure the center’s services. The center currently accepts child care subsidies from The District and was recently awarded a U.S. Department of Education grant that provides scholarships for children of Pell grant-eligible college students.
The center is also in the process of applying for a grant to remodel its playground, Brookes said. “Because we live in a temperate climate, the children are able to use the playground almost all year, and we would love to provide more outdoor classroom experiences for them,” she said.
For more information about the Center for Child Development, call 601.266.5294.
Marie Murell, a graduate student in marriage and family therapy at The University of Southern Mississippi, reads to children at the Center for Child Development at the university’s Hattiesburg campus while Madelyn Beasley, left and Isabella Mauritz look on. The center recently received accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children.(Southern Miss photo by David Tisdale)
About The University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities. In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world. Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; further information is found at www.usm.edu.