COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
The Child Development Center on Columbus Air Force Base recently earned a five-star accreditation through the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
The CDC is required by the Air Force to be accredited by acivilian childcare organization. NAEYC is a professional membership organization that works to promote high-quality early learning for all young children.
This isn’t the first time the Columbus AFB CDC has had this kind of recognition. While the CDC has been around since June of 1964, 1992 was the start of accreditation reviews and the CDC here has been accredited since their first review in 1993.
“We had to a process in which everything was evaluated from the program management to the classroom, participation and so on,” said Martha Mann, 14th Forces Support Squadron CDC Director. “We take the whole program and provide over 200 files of documentation to the validator and also provide a program portfolio to NAEYC for a panel to review.”
According to the Columbus AFB Living website, the Columbus CDC has five unannounced inspections annually; these include fire, public health, safety, a multi-disciplinary team and an inspection by an Air Force team of highly trained child development inspectors who validate and make recommendations for areas of improvement. The fire department, public health and safety provide quarterly visits.
Children can be enrolled in the CDC starting at six-weeks old and can stay enrolled through age 5 or once they are enrolled in kindergarten. The staff at the Columbus AFB CDC work to develop each child as they go through their early stages of life. Staff members read to the children, teach them songs and dances and help ensure that the children know how to socialize with other children.
“I enjoy working with children, watching them learn, seeing them grow and I also enjoy hearing [what the] parents [have to say] when they visit,” said Yvonne Covington, 14th FSS CDC Training Curriculum Specialist.
Darlene Sander, also a CDC Training Curriculum Specialist, said that the connection between staff and children is very unique. She said they are involved with the children not only during the day, but also after they leave the CDC. The staff takes time to get to know the children and parents on personal levels to ensure the learning environment is more fun and interactive.
Looking forward, the Columbus CDC’s goal is to keep the quality care up, make the program more developmentally appropriate and to offer more activities and insight into every child. Mann said they will also be changing their curriculum to better match other military installations around the world, making it easier for the children and families that will eventually PCS.