Sembach, Smith child development centers earn national NAEYC accreditation

by Erinn Burgess U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz Installation Management Command Directorate

Sembach Child Development Center staff smile for a photo. Sembach is one of two U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz CDCs that achieved National Association for the Education of Young Children Accreditation this year. Courtesy Photo

Sembach and Smith child development centers located at U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz and Baumholder Military Community have earned accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children — the world’s largest organization working on behalf of young children.

NAEYC accreditation is a rigorous and transformative quality-improvement system that uses a set of 10 research-based standards to collaborate with early education programs to recognize and drive quality improvement in early learning environments.

“Earning this accreditation means so much to us,” said Shea Giagnorio, training and curriculum specialist at Sembach CDC. “Receiving accreditation demonstrates a benchmark of quality, which the community strongly benefits from. Giving parents the peace of mind that their child is in the best possible care, and the employees have mastered the 10 standards of NAEYC, speaks volumes,” she said.

To earn NAEYC accreditation, Sembach and Smith CDCs went through an extensive self-study and quality-improvement process. This was followed by an on-site visit by NAEYC accessors to verify and ensure the program met each of the 10 program standards and hundreds of corresponding individual criteria. NAEYC-accredited programs are always prepared for unannounced quality-assurance visits during their accreditation, which lasts five years.

“The process of accomplishing accreditation was long and strenuous,” Giagnorio explained. “Sembach CDC worked countless hours, to include Saturdays and Sundays, and into late evenings. Once our accreditation visit was on the horizon, we felt relief, and we couldn’t wait to welcome the assessor into our program. The day of the visit was smooth, and we shone like stars.”

Sembach CDC met requirements for all 10 standards with scores of 100 percent in seven categories.

Christine Smith, training and curriculum specialist at Smith CDC, described the accreditation process as both labor intensive and rewarding.

“You are working toward best practices, higher standards than even the Army requires,” she said. “It is professionally fulfilling when a team is set on delivering the highest quality of care possible. This group of teaching staff worked together, learned together and succeeded together.”

Smith CDC passed all 10 standards at 100 percent.

“We’re proud to have earned the mark of quality from NAEYC and to be recognized for our commitment in reaching the highest professional standards,” said Suayn Moise, Smith CDC facility director at the time of accreditation.

In the 30 years since NAEYC accreditation was established, it has become a widely recognized sign of high-quality early-childhood education. More than 7,000 programs are currently accredited by NAEYC – less than 10 percent of all child care centers, preschools and kindergartens nationally achieve this recognition.

Deputy to the Garrison Commander, Kevin Griess, Ph.D., praised Sembach and Smith CDCs for this achievement.

“Army child care is the best there is, bar none,” he said. “I would put our CDC care and facilities up against any other Department of Defense agency or private sector provider across the nation. Our childcare has always been top-notch, but we have really upped our standards and quality to be unrivaled in this service. We are honored by our responsibility to take care of the children and cherish their presence in our community.”