Rowan’s on-campus childcare receives prestigious recognition from the NAEYC

Whoo RU plays with children on the playground at the Rowan University Early Childhood Demonstration Center. - Photo / Rowan University

In October of this year, the Early Childhood Demonstration Center (ECDC) on campus received recognition as one of the top programs for early childhood education in the country. 

The center, located in James Hall, provides care for children ages 3 to 6 years of age and serves students, staff and alumni of the university, as well as the surrounding communities of Glassboro. This is part of the university’s Family-Friendly Campus initiative, which has the goal of assisting students with children in achieving academically and staying on track with their educational goals. 

“The award is actually national accreditation. It is through the organization for early childhood education, that’s the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). And it is not easily attained. It’s really a mark of excellent quality that not only represents the work that the director Miss Leah Walker and the teachers, Miss Charlotte Rodgers, Miss Jodi Heady, have put into the center,” said Hannah Kye, Ph.D, co-director of the Family-Friendly Campus Initiative. “It’s a mark of quality that helps parents find the best possible quality education for their children.”

NAEYC accreditation is awarded for consistent alignment to ten program standards and hundreds of corresponding criteria for early education. NAEYC accreditation is a mark of excellence achieved by less than 10% of centers and preschools in the nation. 

Leah Walker, co-director of the Family Friendly Campus Initiative, ECDC educator and director also expressed how important the recognition is.

“They’re really the industry leaders in quality early learning. So what NAEYC accreditation means is just that basically, we have met the highest standards of quality in our field” said Walker. “So for parents that means that they know that we’re doing more than basic safety measures. That we are really cognizant of the standards of quality, so that way we’re looking at student-child relationships, we’re looking at providing high-quality educational experiences for the children that are all developmentally appropriate, that are research-based. It looks at our physical environment, it looks at child-adult relationships.” 

Walker adds the accreditation to the list of positive things happening at Rowan.

“For the university, it’s just one more indicator of the good work that’s happening here. I think that the university should be really proud of the fact that their very small early learning center has achieved national accreditation. There’s a handful of associations that do accreditation for early learning, NAEYC is the highest-rated one. There’s about 7,000 centers nationwide that are accredited, but given how many preschool centers, that’s not a high percentage of early learning centers,” Walker said. 

According to the website, there are two programs available. Brown Owls and Gold Owls. Brown Owls provides care to mixed-aged groups of children that require more flexibility in scheduling. Gold Owls provides five-day prekindergarten classes. 

Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) is a program for students who are looking for childcare and need financial assistance.

“Something important to note is that the center is really here for the Rowan community. For eligible Rowan University students, it provides free or discounted childcare, with really flexible options. There’s daytime. If students are taking evening classes, there’s evening care. For summer classes, there’s summer care. So students can apply for free or discounted tuition there, to support them in staying in school and graduating,” said Kye.

April Casey is a junior English major at Rowan who has a child enrolled in the childcare center.

“I wouldn’t be here if there was no childcare available on campus. My son’s tuition is covered by the CCAMPIS grant… The average cost of childcare in New Jersey is almost as much as my tuition here at Rowan and there is no way that I would be able to afford that out of pocket,” Casey said. “Having access to subsidized, high-quality childcare on campus has been a total game changer for me. Initially, I was registered for only evening and online classes, which severely limited my options.”

Casey is just one example of parents who are looking to achieve higher education and are able to do so with free, on-campus childcare.

“Once I was accepted into the CCAMPIS program I was able to register for daytime, on-campus classes, which as, an English major, is critical because the evening, online English classes are few and far between. Without the ECDC I would likely have had to postpone my education for another year until my son was old enough for public kindergarten,” Casey said.

Eligibility is based on Expected Family Contribution from the student’s FAFSA.

“So having the preschool on our Glassboro campus we have been able to fund childcare tuition for students after they have children, so they’re able to continue their studies after having children and starting families. It helps professors who enroll their children stay on the path to tenure,” Kye said.

CCAMPIS is a grant funded by the US Department of Education. This grant gives the university the ability to provide low-cost childcare to students who are parents, as well as create events specifically for students with children, like study nights that offer childcare and Prof Parent Connection events, which facilitate connections between student parents. 

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