Thursday, February 5, 2004
Like a high school senior eagerly awaiting an acceptance letter from her first-choice university, Joyce DeLancey and her staff at GrandKids Child Care Center nervously checked the mailbox daily.
Then, late last month, DeLancey received the thick envelope containing the news she coveted.
After an arduous 18-month process, GrandKids was notified that it earned accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
"We were just ecstatic," said DeLancey, director of GrandKids. "We'd been watching the mail forever."
According to the NAEYC Academy for Early Childhood Program Accreditation, the voluntary, professionally sponsored accreditation system helps raise the quality of all types of child-care programs through a rigorous process of self-study and validation.
GrandKids, which opened in 1981 and is located on the campus of Yampa Valley Medical Center, began the accreditation process in the summer of 2002 with a desire to affirm its belief in the quality of its program, DeLancey said.
"We knew we were a high-quality program, and we felt like validating it with this national accreditation," she said.
DeLancey, assistant director Michelle Clark and team leader Mindy Fontaine led the accreditation process, which included nine months of self-study. The self-study is mandated by NAEYC to help a program determine if it meets accreditation criteria, make needed improvements and report compliance with accreditation criteria.
NAEYC then sent a trained validator for an on-site visit, DeLancey said. The self-study and the report from the validator's visit then were forwarded to a three-person commission that granted the national accreditation to GrandKids.
"We are very excited," First Impressions of Routt County director Renee Donahue said of GrandKids' accreditation. "It's a long process that takes a lot of work. It's a very exciting recognition."
GrandKids is one of two Routt County child-care providers to receive the national accreditation; Discovery Learning Center is the other. About 8,000 early childhood programs across the United States are nationally accredited with NAEYC.
GrandKids is a unique child-care center in that it uses an intergenerational program for its students. The center, next to the Doak Walker Care Center, provides its students with daily activities involving Doak Walker's elderly residents. From arts and crafts to storytimes, GrandKids children constantly interact with Doak Walker residents.
"It's great for the kids and the residents," DeLancey said. "The residents' faces light up when they see the kids."
By exposing the children to people who use devices such as wheelchairs and oxygen tanks, they develop an acceptance of people, DeLancey said.
"The kids love it," she said. "They're not intimidated at all."
GrandKids is licensed to serve 46 children a day. The nonprofit center is owned by the Yampa Valley Medical Center. GrandKids provides education for infants, toddlers and preschoolers.