Colorado Mountain College's early childhood education program was recently awarded national accreditation status, after a three-year review process.
The National Association for the Education of Young Children awards accreditation after a rigorous self-study and program improvement process. A national team of external evaluators validates a program has demonstrated the ability to meet national standards.
Dr. Renee Kuharski, assistant vice president of academic affairs at Colorado Mountain College, said the accreditation is optional for the program. She credits the college's advisory committee for early childhood education and adjunct instructors for ensuring the quality of the program and for their assistance in gaining accreditation. Classes are offered online as well as at the college's locations in Aspen, Breckenridge, Leadville, Rifle and Steamboat Springs.
Clayton Early Learning led and facilitated the three-year, statewide effort, convening the participating colleges for specific training and faculty development opportunities and offering individualized technical assistance. The Boettcher Foundation provided $750,000 for the program initiative, which also involved 12 other community colleges in Colorado.
Nine colleges including CMC received accreditation, while four colleges whose programs are too small for accreditation received state-level peer visits.
Kuharski said gaining accreditation assures prospective students that completion of the program can help them attain employment at childcare centers, preschools, kindergartens, nursery schools, after-school programs, recreational centers, playgrounds and other such programs.