Improving early education through accreditation

Nationally, nearly 12 million children under age 5 regularly spend time in child care arrangements. Children with working mothers spend an average of 36 hours per week in child care settings. Currently, federal and state policies for early learning leave families with a patchwork system of early care and education that is not all high quality.

Research demonstrates that children who receive developmentally appropriate, literacy-rich early education have an excellent foundation for both school and future success in life. At this time, there are 1,222 licensed child care facilities in Miami-Dade County and only 426 are accredited. Accreditation is key to elevating the quality of early care and education.

With financial aid and mentoring provided by the Center and its partner in this endeavor, the Early Learning Coalition, nearly 20 early care and education centers in Miami-Dade will become APPLE accredited by June 30th, 2010.  These centers will have demonstrated commitment to early literacy, improved policies and procedures, enhanced organization, increased parental involvement, and ultimately, they will have elevated the quality of their program so that participating children receive the foundation they need for success in school and in life.

APPLE (Accredited Professional Preschool Learning Environment) is a voluntary national accreditation program. APPLE offers a two-step accreditation process, which includes a self study and verification visit. Indicators of quality, as reflected in each individual program, are evaluated. All components of a program are examined including administration, classroom environment, parent and community involvement, advocacy on behalf of children and child care, staffing credentials, staff to child ratios, teacher/child interaction, literacy and curriculum. APPLE accreditation embodies the assurance that programs are developmentally appropriate, teaching staff is well trained and programs are well maintained.