December 19, 2014  

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Southern Miss Center for Child Development Earns Top Rating

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Leeann Pittman, a student teacher at the Southern Miss Center for Child Development, enjoys some outdoor time with one of the youngsters. (University Communications photo by Van Arnold)

The Center for Child Development at The University of Southern Mississippi reached an historic milestone recently by earning a five-star rating for the first time by the state’s Quality Stars Program.

Quality Stars is Mississippi’s tiered quality rating and improvement system, developed by the Division of Early Childhood and Development of the Mississippi Department of Human Services.

“The achievement of the five-star rating represents the commitment of the Department of Child and Family Studies to provide a model early care and education program for our students participating in practicum experiences, faculty engaged in research, and as a point of inspiration for other programs in our community,” said Center Executive Director Jeff Leffler.

Leffler notes that there are only eight five-star (out of five) centers in the state with the Southern Miss Center serving as the only one in Hattiesburg. The Center for Child Development is already accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (a designation achieved by only 10 percent of programs nationally).

Leffler said that much credit for the Center’s success must be given to the teachers on staff -- professional educators with a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in child development/early childhood education.

“This recognition involves an intensive evaluation of the not only the overall program administration, but individual classrooms,” said Leffler.

The Center houses eight classrooms for approximately 90 children ages eight weeks through age 5. Its primary purpose is to serve as an academic/teaching and research facility for faculty and students across the university. A secondary purpose is to serve the children and their families in a quality childcare environment.

Children of Southern Miss faculty, staff and students receive priority enrollment in the Center but the services are also available to the community at large. For more information call 601.266.5294 or visit: http://www.usm.edu/family-studies-child-development/overview-center-child-development