Delores Doré Eccles Center Recently Accredited
Thursday, Jun. 19, 2014
Ms. Hillary, a former practicum student at the center, holds a young student.
The DDE Center's enclosed playground allows for some vigorous play.
Any parents who have had to go to school, work or an afternoon of shopping know the trepidation of leaving their little ones in the care of someone else.
Staff members at the Delores Doré Eccles Center for Early Care and Education at Utah State University have worked hard to ease that feeling. Earlier this spring, the center received some recognition for their efforts when it earned accreditation with the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
In Utah, only seven NAEYC-accredited programs for young children exist outside of the Wasatch Front. Of those, five — including the DDE Center — are affiliated with the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services and the Family, Consumer, and Human Development Department at USU.
NAEYC — the nation’s leader of early childhood professional organizations — grants accreditation to centers that voluntarily maintain standards that are often higher than those required by state licensure. Evaluators looked at 400 criteria before granting the center its new status. Nationwide, approximately 8 percent of all preschool and early childhood programs are NAEYC-accredited.
Achieving accreditation took about two years, said Maegan Lokteff, the center’s program coordinator. During the process they made it a goal to help families feel welcome.
It has worked for Colby Tofel-Grehl, an assistant professor in the School of Teacher Education and Leadership.
“I think the DDE Center focuses on the individual child and has given both my boys a sense of security that has allowed them to flourish,” Tofel-Grehl said. “My youngest son was eight months old when he started at the center. My husband and I were very nervous about having such a young one in child care. However, he’s never had separation issues because his teachers are so warm and focused on a comforting routine.”
The DDE Center has made an effort not only to talk to parents, but to encourage families to give feedback, said Executive Director Lisa Boyce.
For example, the computer where parents sign their child in delivers pop-up messages about DDE Center events. But for Jessica Shumway, meaningful communication comes in the form of a handwritten note from her child’s preschool teacher. These tidbits tell her about the children and toys he played with, the food he ate or the things he learned about sharing. She is also able to meet one-on-one with the teacher to discuss any concerns she has.
Shumway is a doctoral student in mathematics education, and her son is two and a half years old. She likes being able to drop him off and watch him from the observation room before she leaves. It helps to see him playing and know he is happy.
The center also sends photos to parents throughout the day to show what they’re doing, said Victoria Grieve, a history professor with two children in the program. Grieve is also a member of the center’s advisory board.
Teachers are conscious of what’s going on in the child’s world, said Grieve. Her own daughter was eased into the senior preschool from the junior one, as the staff introduced her for an hour or two to get her used to the new setting before they moved her over permanently.
“Transitions for her are sometimes hard,” Grieve said. “It’s made a difference for me. I noticed she was comfortable.”
The DDE Center serves faculty, staff and students, with one fourth of its openings reserved for the children of parents who study at USU. It also gives USU students a place to learn skills. Eleven students from the Family, Consumer, and Human Development Department received practicum experience there during the 2013-14 school year.
The center also collaborates with the Nutrition, Dietetics and Food Sciences Department at USU, which provides expertise, interns and graduate students who ensure healthy eating during the day. Offerings go far beyond peanut butter and jelly. The menu includes items like whole wheat bruschetta sandwiches, butternut squash soup, wheat round crackers, heart healthy oatmeal cookies, pita bread and hummus.
The food is all made in-house.
“It’s what won me over,” Shumway said.
Other USU-affiliated, accredited programs include the Dale and Adele Young Child Development Laboratory on USU’s Logan campus, the Utah State University Brigham City Child Development Laboratory, the Little Brigham Aggies Early Care and Education Center in Brigham City and the Utah State University Uintah Basin Child Development Laboratory in Roosevelt.
An accreditation lasts five years.
- Dolores Doré Eccles Center for Early Care and Education
- USU Family, Consumer, and Human Development Department
- USU Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services
Writer: JoLynne Lyon, 435-797-1463