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Educational programs for MIT’s youngest learners receive accreditation

All MIT Technology Children’s Centers now hold this distinction.
Karen Mikita, lead teacher at TCC Westgate, works with two preschool students engaged in dramatic play.
Karen Mikita, lead teacher at TCC Westgate, works with two preschool students engaged in dramatic play.
Photo: Susan Clark, Director, TCC Westgate

What do the infants, toddlers and preschoolers who attend MIT’s Technology Children’s Centers have in common with MIT students? These youngsters also attend an accredited program.

The Eastgate and Westgate Centers recently achieved accreditation through the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC); the TCC Stata and Lincoln Laboratory locations received accreditation in 2007 and 2008, respectively. This is the first time that all four of MIT’s child care centers have held this recognition at the same time.

“Massachusetts state-licensing standards are among the most stringent in the country,” says Kathy Simons, senior program manager, child care services and work life policy for the MIT Center for Work, Family and Personal Life, “but the national, voluntary accreditation standards are even tougher and do a better job getting to the quality of children’s actual experience.”

NAEYC sets and monitors research-based standards for high-quality early childhood education programs and accredits programs that meet those standards. The organization focuses on the quality of educational and developmental services for all children from birth through age 8.

To achieve accreditation, a program engages in an extensive self-study based on 10 program standards and more than 400 criteria related to those standards, including “promoting positive relationships,” “use of developmentally, culturally and linguistically effective teaching approaches,” and “curricula that foster all areas of child development.” The self-evaluation process can take several months.

Once submitted, a center’s self-study is verified during a site visit by NAEYC evaluators and then reviewed by a national panel of recognized experts in child care and early childhood education. Programs that meet the standards are granted accreditation for five years. During this time, programs must submit annual reports and are subject to unannounced visits to ensure they remain in compliance.

“Self-study, parent feedback and outside review help good programs get better,” Simons said. “TCC children are exceedingly curious and inventive; we want our early childhood programs to live up to this standard.”

Technology Children's Centers are overseen by the MIT Center for Work, Family and Personal Life, and are professionally managed by Bright Horizons Family Solutions.

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