The Community Partnership's Early Care and Education program announced recently that Debra J. (Martin) Hutson, owner and operator of Deb's Babies and Tots in Rolla, has received accreditation for her child care facility from the National Association for Family Child Care. The National Association for Family Child Care is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting quality child care by strengthening the profession of family child care.

"Accreditation is above and beyond the level of licensing," explained Karen Daily, a Partnership ECE specialist who has worked with Hutson throughout the lengthy process of accreditation. "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, FBI checks for the provider and the staff, CPR and First Aid certification, 90 hours of training during the 3-year time frame, and other educational requirements.

Hutson, who has been a child care provider for almost 14 years, applied for accreditation the first time in 2003.

"I worked with The Community Partnership's Early Care and Education program right from the start," she said. "Once you receive accreditation, that's not the end. When you become accredited, you have to start from scratch every three years and go through the process all over again."

"Karen Daily has been with me every step of the way during my re-accreditation," Huston continued. "When this accreditation expires, I don't know if I'll be able to reapply. A lot of people don't realize that the Partnership's ECE program lost funding with legislative budget cuts last year. With the loss of money in the ECE budget, people like me who care for children in the community are going to have consequences. This may be my last time to seek accreditation, because I won't be able to fund it myself or have help from someone like Karen. My hope is that our legislators will realize how important this is to our communities. The reality is that access to quality child care can make or break a community."

Governor Jay Nixon recently restored accreditation funding in his proposed fiscal year 2014 budget. Legislators will be voting on this and other budget items in the coming months.

Hutson continues to provide care at her facility, located on N. Cedar St. in Rolla.

"We're so proud of Deb and how determined she has been to remain accredited," Daily said. "A child care provider knows going in to the process that it's not going to be easy, but they also know that it's important."

For more information about The Community Partnership's Early Care and Education program, visit the Partnership's website at