Only 7 percent of early childhood programs have it nationwide. Of the 7 percent, one is in Craig.
Sunrise Kids Preschool and Child Care has been accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).
Judi Whilden, owner and director of Sunrise Kids, took over the center 4 1/2 years ago. When Whilden began her reign, she knew what she wanted to do.
"The day I started at Sunrise Kids Preschool, I was determined to make it the best program in Northwest Colorado," Whilden said. "The staff and I have worked very hard to improve our program by providing highly-qualified teachers and the best learning environment in Moffat County. This accreditation proves our success at offering the families of this community a place of excellence for their children."
There are 5,000 licensed programs similar to Sunrise Kids in Colorado. Of those, Sunrise Kids is the 154th program to earn an NAEYC accreditation.
Since her ownership began, Whilden has set a goal of becoming accredited by the NAEYC. She has added outside equipment and overhauled the curriculum.
"Our curriculum leans toward academics and prepares children for everyday life," Whilden said. "Being accredited by (NAEYC) means that we offer quality preschool and before- and after-school programs. We offer parents a chance to take their children to a place of high quality and excellence.
"We are hoping the people of Craig will realize Sunrise Kids is an asset to Craig."
NAEYC began accrediting institutions in 1985. It is the nation's oldest and largest organization of early childhood professionals dedicated to improving the quality of early childhood education. NAEYC began accrediting in response to the growing number of children spending large amounts of time away from home. Child care centers, preschools and before- and after-school programs are eligible to seek NAEYC accreditation.
"The heart of NAEYC accreditation focuses on the child's experience," Whilden said. "The process carefully considers all aspects of a program including health and safety, staffing, staff qualifications and physical environment. The greatest emphasis is on the children's relationships with the staff and how the program helps each child grow and learn intellectually, physically, socially and emotionally."
The accreditation process is a rigorous, voluntary process toward national standards of excellence, Whilden said. Programs that seek accreditation undergo an intensive self-study by collecting information from parents, teachers, administrators and classroom observations. Representatives from NAEYC visited Sunrise Kids to validate the self-study and an independent team of national experts reviewed the information and granted Sunrise Kids accreditation.
The sign of accreditation from NAEYC is displayed by a torch.
"Parents who choose an early education or child care program for their children that displays this torch can be reassured they have chosen a program committed to excellence," Whilden said.
But Sunrise Kids will not stop there.
"We never stop looking at ways to improve and get better," she said.
Sunrise Kids serves 60 children ages 2 to 12. Sunrise Kids has a morning preschool program, an all-day preschool program, a before- and after-school program and a summer program.