NAC for Excellence
Welcome to this edition of NAC for Excellence, a monthly accreditation e-newsletter for NACCP members. We hope you find the information provided in this newsletter helpful and informative. Enjoy!
Let's talk about....Making a Commitment to NAC Accreditation
By Janice Esau, Director of Accreditation
Going through accreditation is a process of improvement that results in growth through change. Programs that become accredited share the following key characteristics: commitment to quality, willingness to self-evaluate, and desire to improve. There must be complete “buy in” from administration, staff and parents in order to meet the intent and maintain the integrity of the accreditation process. This article will discuss each of the shared characteristics of accredited programs.
A commitment is a pledge to willingly and enthusiastically accept an obligation or responsibility. A commitment to quality child care, then, is a promise to provide programs and services that demonstrate integrity, best practices, and excellence in the care and education of young children. Programs that successfully navigate the Self-Study process to become accredited have achieved a mutual understanding and commitment to quality among and between staff, administrator and parents. They are willing to dedicate time, effort and resources to the accreditation effort and everyone benefits, especially the children.
Self-evaluation occurs on multiple levels throughout the accreditation process. For example, individual classrooms are evaluated by teaching staff and program directors, administrative processes are evaluated by parents, staff, and program directors, and all aspects of the program are evaluated by validators. How programs use the information gleaned through self-evaluation is very important. Self-evaluations must be thorough, thoughtful and objective. Using the NAC Accreditation documents (Classroom Observation, Administrator’s Report, Staff Survey and Parent Survey), administrators and staff identify aspects of the program that work well and those that need improvement. The results of each evaluation should be used to improve programs and processes, enhance age-appropriate planning, and inform interactions with families.
A desire to improve must be present in order for a program to experience the many benefits of program accreditation. Program administrators and staff should use the momentum of their shared commitment to quality and the results of the various self-evaluations to identify areas for improvement and growth. Staff training, mentoring, improvements to the facilities, and implementation of parent programs are some ways that programs demonstrate desire to improve.
Accreditation is not merely meant to identify areas for improvement. It also emphasizes the importance of celebrating a program’s successes and accomplishments. Understanding quality indicators and drawing attention to program strengths are just as important as correcting weaknesses. Programs are encouraged to use the NAC Accreditation documents and tools to help staff and parents recognize the wonderful aspects of the program. Program administrators can use the positive attributes to encourage and inform staff as they work to improve other areas; presenting a balanced approach to program improvement.
NAC Accreditation is a process requiring commitment, evaluation, and willingness to improve. Programs that successfully maneuver the process truly have a NAC for excellence!