I have been honored to serve as the CAAEYC Accreditation Committee Chair for the past two years. As a Committee, we held informative workshops at the Annual CAAEYC Conferences. The topics of workshops were:
- Why Accreditation Matters? Benefits, Process, Maintaining & Renewal
- Power to the Profession: Higher Education’s Role and Opportunities
- NAEYC’s Higher Education Accreditation Systems: An Overview and the Impact
- Accreditation 101: Understanding the NAEYC Accreditation of Early Learning Programs Process and Expectations
- Renewing Accreditation
In addition, the Committee annually hosted receptions for early childhood education (ECE) programs that received NAEYC accreditation to celebrate their success and effort. All the workshops and the celebrations has been done through close collaboration among CAAEYC, NAEYC and various early childhood professional organizations.
Then, someone asked why do we spend this much effort to promote NAEYC accreditation? Why does NAEYC allocate one of the six major tabs of the NAEYC website homepage to accreditation? What is your first thought when you hear the word, accreditation? To me, accreditation means high-quality for the well-being of young children and their families. NAEYC states the benefits of its accreditation as:
“From guidelines for teacher preparation through safety standards, NAEYC accreditation ensures that programs are safe, well prepared, and intentional about ensuring children's success. As a reputable indicator of quality, NAEYC accreditation correlates with children's greater readiness and success in school and beyond; increased educational attainment rates; and overall healthier lifestyles.” (https://www.naeyc.org/accreditation/early-learning/benefits, May 15, 2019)
In addition, NAEYC accreditation is an integral part of the “Power to the Profession” initiative, established by NAEYC. The major purposes of this initiative are to promote public awareness of the importance of early childhood education and to increase the status of early childhood educators. As brain research has proven, between the ages zero to seven is a critical time for brain development. However, historically public awareness of this is still limited and public funding is minimal in early childhood (see https://dss.mo.gov/cbec/pdf/ee_0941_letterhead.pdf.) Moreover, early childhood professionals do not receive high monetary compensation and “The Power to the Profession” campaign is trying to improve these issues by advocating for more education for the early childhood workforce and, most of all, improving the quality of early childhood programs.
In my opinion, there are two big issues that need to be looked at in promoting NAEYC accreditation in California:
One is about the resources – its cost and human resource. When I ask why a center does not pursue NAEYC accreditation, I am generally told it is because of the cost and the necessary “person-power” NAEYC accreditation requires.
The other issue is Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS), which “… is a systemic approach to assess, improve and communicate the level of quality in early and school-age care and education programs” (https://qrisguide.acf.hhs.gov/about-qris, May 15, 2019) and which is mainly administered by states and its local government. California adapted the system, which is now referred to as Quality Counts California. Since QRIS uses financial incentives for its implementation, more early childhood centers are motivated to participate in it. My personal wish is that all early childhood stakeholders, including various levels of government and NAEYC, work together and walk together to improve the experiences young children have in our complex early care and education programs across the state.
Seon Chun-Burbank, EdD
Chair of the Early Childhood Program at Vanguard University
CAAEYC Accreditation Committee Chair