Fort McCoy News Aug. 25, 2017

Fort McCoy CDC scores high marks

during reaccreditation

Public Affairs Staff

Fort McCoy's Child Development Center (CDC) was recently reaccredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), averaging 99.3 percent in 10 program standards.

In order to earn accreditation, participating organizations are required to pass at least 80 percent of the assessed criteria for each of 10 program standards. The Fort McCoy CDC scored at least 96 percent in every standard and earned 100 percent or higher in eight of the standards.

Organizations also must meet at least 70 percent of assessed criteria in every classroom. Fort McCoy CDC classes all earned at least 96 percent during their assessments, which consisted of both group observation and review of classroom portfolios.

A toddler plays at a water table while Sierra Butzler, child and youth program assistant, supervises and helps other children with an activity Aug. 8 at the Fort McCoy Child Development Center.
A toddler plays at a water table while Sierra Butzler, child and youth
program assistant, supervises and helps other children with an activity
Aug. 8 at the Fort McCoy Child Development Center.

The CDC staff members are proud of their assessment results and the program itself, said Ann Boegler, director of the Fort McCoy CDC.

Army CDCs are required to be nationally accredited by an outside agency. Boegler said this is an advantage because striving to meet the standards set by these national organizations ensures the CDC is providing top-quality care to their patrons. Making sure the CDC meets those higher standards takes a lot of work and planning.

CDC staff members maintain portfolios and lesson plans for each classroom. They also conduct Family surveys to assess whether parents are satisfied with the level of care and attention their children receive and whether they have any suggestions or ideas for improvements.

CDC staff members put in a lot of hours to keep the program running smoothly, said Angela Kast, assistant director for the Fort McCoy CDC.

It's important to be diligent about maintaining both the standards and documentation, she said. And maintaining these portfolios helps ensure that program quality is a focus every day and not just during the recertification process.

During a two-day visit, NAEYC inspectors do spot checks of the classrooms and facilities, randomly choosing items from a 929-item checklist that covers the 10 program criteria.

"One of the criteria might say that children are greeted daily and the Families are given information (about their child) daily," Boegler said. Staff members have to be able to produce documentation of at least two examples that this criteria is being met in order to gain that point on that checklist.

Children attending the Fort McCoy Child Development Center work on an art project Aug. 8, 2017, at Fort McCoy, Wis.
Children attending the Fort McCoy Child Development Center work on an
art project with the help of Shawn Eckelberg, child and youth program
assistant, on Aug. 8 at Fort McCoy.

The Fort McCoy CDC earned higher than 100 percent in several categories by meeting "Emerging Practice" criteria, which are practices and strategies that are recommended but not required by the program.

There are five additional criteria that NAEYC programs must meet. A failure in any one of these areas is considered an "instant fail," no matter what the organization scores in other areas, and pertain mostly to safety:

• All staff members must be trained in spotting signs of and preventing child abuse.

• Infants must always be laid down to sleep on their backs. There also cannot be anything in the crib to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

• At least one staff member in each classroom must be trained in first aid and CPR. (At Fort McCoy, all CDC staff members are trained in first aid and CPR.)

• Children 2 years old or younger must be within sight and earshot of at least one staff member at all times.

• Organizations must be certified by a state or local agency. (Army CDCs are certified by the Department of Defense.)

All CDC staff members go through an 18-month on-the-job training program, and the center employs a full-time trainer. A number of the staff members also have postsecondary coursework or degrees.

NAEYC is a five-year accreditation program. While inspectors can stop in at any time, the CDC will not have another scheduled review until 2022.

CDC programs focus on four core areas: language, cognitive, physical, and social/emotional education. Lesson plans are developed for each classroom and then further individualized for each child.

A Child Development Center staff member reads books with her charges Aug. 8, 2017, at Fort McCoy.
Kim Flock, educational aide with the Child Development Center, reads
books with her charges Aug. 8.

"We individualize the lesson plans for every child so that they're getting the learning they need," Kast said. "Starting from 6 weeks old, all students get individualized plans."

Program staff try to find new and interesting ways to approach these core areas, such as dance classes for physical education. During outside play time, children might be asked to identify and scoop up objects while playing with toys in the sand or to "feed" certain toys with grass while playing at water tables.

Staff members encourage children to develop their reasoning skills by asking open-ended questions that can't be answered with simply "yes" or "no."

"We do a lot of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) activities," Kast said.

The literacy program promotes early reading both at the center and at home. CDC staff members read with the children, and the center maintains a lending library. The lending program is called "Books in a Bag" and allows parents to check out books to take home and read with their children.

In addition to day-to-day lessons, the center plans special activities based on themes or holidays.

"We always do activities for Month of the Military Child (in April)," Kast said. Month of the Military Family is coming up in November, and the center provides a lot of take-home activities to encourage Family participation, she said.

Boegler and Kast said one thing they wanted to stress is that the CDC is not simply a babysitting or day-care program.

"Every little thing they do, they're learning; they're not just playing," Kast said.

"They're learning through play," Boegler said. "We do provide care for the children, but we also do so much more than that. We develop their minds."

The CDC falls under Fort McCoy Child and Youth Services. For more information about the CDC, including eligibility requirements, call 608-388-8956.