Children Care Center at Genesee Community College Receives National Accreditation

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) has awarded accreditation to the Early Child Care Center at Genesee Community College. NAEYC, the nation's premier organization of early childhood professionals, sets standards for early childhood education, and helps families identify high-quality childcare programs. Genesee Community College's Day Care Center joins more than 10,000 programs nationwide - serving over 850,000 young children - that are currently accredited by NAEYC.

To achieve NAEYC accreditation, a program must conduct a self-study to determine how well it meets the standards and make any necessary improvements to the program. Independent validators then observe the program, and finally, a national panel reviews it. NAEYC programs are accredited for a five-year period. A portion of a grant the Child Care Center received from the U.S. Department of Education, specifically CCAMPIS (Child Care Access Means Parents in School), were used to help pay the accreditation application fee and to upgrade program materials to meet requirements. Maggie Hagen, Center Director since 1992, is thrilled to have achieved this distinction. "NAEYC recognizes the very best in programming, staffing, materials, and training," she explains, adding that the accreditation allows the Child Care Center "to access additional grant funding for our programs." Federal grants often require a facility to be accredited prior to submitting funding applications. According to Hagen, the NAEYC nod means, "above and beyond state licensing requirements, we have been recognized for excellence in programming, as well as excellence and stability in our staff."

The staff involved with the accreditation process included: Maggie Hagen, Director from Batavia; Patti Cassatt, Center office manager from Elba; Stephanie Kellogg, lead teacher from Oakfield; Jennifer Keller, teacher from Elba; Judy Irrera, teacher from Batavia; Beverly Dyrbala, lead teacher from Alexander; Dorothy Smith, teacher from Batavia; Jenny Donahue, lead teacher from Alexander; Tabetha DuBois, teacher from Albion; Marcia Brown, lead teacher from Albion; Joann Zajaczkowski, teacher from Alexander.

The NAEYC accreditation also means that more support materials will be available for parents. "There'll be more access to parents for information on age appropriate programming, more magazines, newsletters, and lectures" that address child care issues, Hagen says.

Childcare was provided to Genesee students "by off-site providers since the 1970's." In the mid-1980's, a staff lounge was renovated to create the first childcare center. "We were originally a satellite program of the YWCA," Hagen recalls.

When funding was cut in 1994, the college, under the auspices of GCCA, became a licensed day care provider. The center, which can hold up to 53 children, operates on a full-day basis from 7:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. to accommodate a typical class schedule. The majority of the children at the care center are children of students, as opposed to faculty or staff, although it is open to all Genesee employees.

"We accept children from the community too," says Hagen, "although it's often not helpful for families since we follow the college's academic calendar and cannot offer our services during the summer months." About 20 full- and part-time employees, including Hagen, comprise the staff of the childcare center. "Our employees have either certificates in Early Childhood, hold Health and Human Service degrees, or are enrolled in the Teacher Education program at Genesee."

Trends in childcare have undergone dramatic changes since Hagen first arrived at the Center. "I used to have garage sale toys, puzzles without pieces, very few books. Our last inventory tallied over 800 books, mostly new." Programs are constantly in jeopardy of being terminated and Hagen wishes that "there were more choices in early child care programs for rural parents." Standards for childcare licensing differ within regions and counties and rural areas are "grievously under-served," according to Hagen. She hopes that "legislation, support, and understanding will help all child care centers comply with the same set of standards."

For more information about the Child Care Center at Genesee, visit the website athttp://www.genesee.edu/about/facilities/childcare.cfm

In addition, a photograph from the Day Center showing Genesee Community College student Deanna DeSimone from Niagara Falls as she works at a computer station inside the Day Care Center with Madison Gardner from Pavilion and Ben Munding from Rochester is available at the following Internet address: http://marketing.genesee.edu/images/Daycare2.jpg

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