Early Childhood Demonstration Center earns national accreditation

Early Childhood Demonstration Center earns national accreditation

The Early Childhood Demonstration Center at Rowan University has earned national accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Here, center director Leah Walker leads children in an outdoor activity.

Rowan University’s Early Childhood Demonstration Center has earned accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children, a mark of excellence in early childhood education.

“NAEYC is the leading voice in early childhood education,” says Leah Walker, director of the ECDC for the past 10 years. “Our accreditation shows we are meeting the highest standards of quality.”

Housed in James Hall in Rowan’s College of Education, the ECDC serves children ages 3-6. The center includes children from area communities, as well as kids of Rowan students, staff and alumni. Currently, the ECDC serves 23 families. Children must be toilet trained to attend the ECDC.

"NAEYC accreditation is a mark of excellence achieved by less than 10 percent of centers and preschools in the nation,” says Hannah Kye, assistant professor of interdisciplinary and inclusive education in the College of Education. “Accreditation is awarded for consistent alignment to 10 program standards and hundreds of corresponding criteria for early education, including curriculum, teacher-child relationships, staff competencies and physical environment.”

Early learning programs accredited by the NAEYC “are meticulously measured for indicators of quality in the classroom and beyond,” according to the organization’s web site. NAEYC includes more than 60,000 individual members of the early childhood community. It promotes high-quality early learning for all young children by connecting early childhood practice, policy and research.

Founded at Rowan 48 years ago, the ECDC has grown from a student-run club into a high quality preschool program. The ECDC is open Monday through Friday from year round. The curriculum is designed to address the developmental stages of each child with careful attention to a child’s individual needs, interests and background.

Its existence on Rowan’s campus is a win-win for the ECDC, Walker notes. Rowan students gain valuable experience working in the ECDC. And the center benefits by partnering with academic programs throughout the University to provide children with specialized learning experiences, according to Walker.

“Students working in our center can take what they learn in class and apply it in the ECDC,” says Walker, who has collaborated with departments in art, music, engineering, and health and exercise science on learning opportunities for her students.

“We get to be on top of the most up-to-date teaching techniques. We are able to offer some really wonderful experiences to our children.”

A federal CCAMPIS (Child Care Access Means Parents in School) grant awarded to the College of Education has allowed the ECDC to provide need assistance to Rowan students who are parents. The CCAMPIS program provides free or reduced cost daytime, evening and summer child care on campus, as well as support services for students who are parents. Kye is the program director and principal investigator of the grant.

Walker and Corine Brown, associate professor of interdisciplinary and inclusive education, are co-directors.