By Megan Nadeau, Staff Writer
UMF practicum students and student workers at Sweatt-Winter Child Care and Early Education Center have been, and continue to, lend a helping hand, leading to the Center receiving the National Association of the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Accreditation.
NAEYC Accreditation system has set professional standards for Early Childhood programs. Only 10 percent of the nation’s childhood programs receive this distinguished recognition.
In order for a program to be recognized, they must meet at least 80 percent of the criteria required. UMF’s Sweatt-Winter Child Care Center, however, met 100 percent of the criteria required in all 10 categories, as well as met many of the emerging criteria, going above and beyond what was required.
While the teachers can meet these requirements, it becomes much easier with the aid of practicum students and student workers. “We definitely could not do it without them,” said Edna Montague, the director of the Sweatt-Winter Child Care Center, in reference to the help from the practicum students and student workers, “The students were able to step up and meet the standards.”
In order to become accredited, many staff members had to change what they did and also enforce change in the children. “Everything really had to be perfect, even the children are taught how to maintain cleanliness, as well as enforced the idea of proper cleaning,” said UMF student worker Brittany Garcia. “The students even were taught to turn the water off with a towel after washing their hands!”
Aside from aiding with accreditation, Montague said, “It’s definitely helpful to have the extra eyes; the students help cover the class. Without the students, we would probably have to rearrange the room.”
One of the NAEYC criteria states that children in the center should not be out of the eye of an adult for more than two minutes. Practicum students and student workers help minimize the time children are unsupervised, always having the extra eye.
Many hours of hard work were required for UMF’s Sweatt-Winter Child Care program to receive this accreditation.
“It was super stressful,” said Nicole Pedone, a junior and student worker at the Sweatt-Winter Child Care Center. “We cleaned the entire place spotless, and the teachers stayed hours after they were supposed to, to make sure that everything was how it was supposed to be.”
“The student workers have an impact on the Center receiving the accreditation, as well as all the teachers. The students are really key in the cleaning and maintaining of the center, they are key to keeping its appearance where it needs to be,” said Garcia.
“Accreditation is extremely specific,” said Garcia. “It’s very nit picky. They have specific regulations we had to follow in order to get to get the accreditation as well as the funding.”
The NAEYC Accreditation is renewed every five years for child care programs.
“It’s something we are continually striving for,” Montague said, “It’s not something we do one year and forget about the other four, it’s a year round thing.”
Keeping the center up to date and clean to accreditation standards requires willingness from all staff members.
“No person can do it individually,” said Montague, “It’s a full staff job to work together to meet the standards.”