The Community Partnership recently announced that Jill Keeney, of Keeney's Early Learning Center in St. James, has received accreditation for the child care facility from the National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC).
NAFCC is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting quality child care by strengthening the profession of family child care.
Keeney's Early Learning Center is the only child care center in St. James that is accredited. Keeney was given guidance and support during this 3-plus-year process from The Community Partnership's Early Care and Education Specialist Karen Daily.
"Accreditation is above and beyond the level of licensing," explained Daily. "Because accreditation demands a much higher standard of care by the child care facility and staff, there is ongoing training and other requirements that must be met. By qualifying for accreditation, a family can be reassured that their child will have quality care."
The accreditation process includes doing a self-study, verification of state licensing, an FBI check for the provider, CPR and first aid certification, 120 hours of training and other educational requirements.
"I learned a lot from the process," said Keeney. "Most children come to us for eight or more hours per day, so we need to instill in them that this is their place, their community. NAFCC sets the highest standards in everything from food prep and safety to curriculum. We work hard to cover social emotional factors to fine and gross motor skills."
Keeney said that even though she plans the curriculum, her instruction is "child-led," so she is focused but flexible.
"We build around interests," she explained. "For instance, this morning we did a science experiment mixing oil and water. That led to some other interesting discussions. The children enjoy learning activities as much as play activities."
The accreditation process included site visits and observation. Jill and John Keeney, a co-owner of the business, both hold Child Development Associate (CDA) credentials from the Council for Professional Recognition.
Keeney said that parents of the children in her care were excited to watch her achieve her goal of accreditation. "They knew how hard it was to get this, and they were so supportive."
"I learned so much throughout the process, and I'm proud of what we've built here in St. James," she continued. "I learned to examine the ways I do things, and to be as efficient as possible. The primary objective was to make Keeney's Early Learning Center a place for children to thrive, be safe, and have fun learning.
"We're proud of the work Jill did to become accredited," said Daily. "St. James should also be proud of this achievement. Having an accredited child care provider in a community is important."
Keeney's Early Learning Center is located at 116 N. Seymour St. in St. James. To learn more about The Community Partnership's Early Care and Education program, visit www.thecommunitypartnership.org.