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County’s Six State Preschools Earn National Accreditation

This is the second time the program has achieved accreditation

All six state preschool programs operated by the Child Development Programs of the Santa Barbara County Education Office earned accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the nation’s leading organization of early childhood professionals.

The six preschools are De Colores State Preschool at Clarence Ruth School, Just for Kids State Preschool at Arthur Hapgood Elementary School, La Honda State Preschool at La Honda Elementary School and The Learning Place State Preschool at Crestview Elementary, all in Lompoc; Los Alamos State Preschool at Olga Reed Elementary School in Los Alamos; and Santa Ynez Valley State Preschool at College School in Santa Ynez.

The preschools provide a school readiness program to 250 students ages 3 to 5 from low-income families.

This is the second time the program has achieved accreditation, demonstrating 10 years of commitment.

Accreditation involves an in-depth review of the classroom environment; curriculum; interpersonal relations among the children, staff and families; community involvement; staff credentials, training and professional development; and leadership and management. Only a very few program in the nation achieve this high level of quality.

“We’re proud to have earned the mark of quality from NAEYC, and to be recognized for our program’s commitment to reaching the highest professional standards,” said county Superintendent Bill Cirone, whose office coordinates the program. “NAEYC accreditation lets families in our community know that children in our program are getting the best care and early learning experiences possible.”

To earn NAEYC accreditation, the state preschools went through an extensive self-study process, measuring the program and its services against the 10 NAEYC Early Childhood Program Standards and more than 400 related accreditation criteria. The program received NAEYC accreditation after an on-site visit by NAEYC assessors to ensure that the program met each of the 10 program standards. NAEYC-accredited programs are also subject to unannounced visits during their accreditation, which lasts for five years.

In the 25 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 accredited by NAEYC — about 8 percent of all preschools and other early childhood programs.

“The NAEYC accreditation system raises the bar for child care centers and other early childhood programs,” said Jerlean Daniel, Ph.D, executive director of NAEYC. “Having earned NAEYC accreditation is a sign that SBCEO is a leader in a national effort to invest in high-quality early childhood education.”

— Wendy Shelton is director of communications for the Santa Barbara County Education Office.

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