Children’s Enrichment Center earns re-accreditation

Kids play outside at the Childrens Enrichment Center

Eric Coulter

Kids play outside at the Childrens Enrichment Center

Sarah Wiltenburg

With a slogan of instilling “grand beginnings,” the Grand Valley State University Children’s Enrichment Center has provided child care and education for the offspring of GVSU faculty and students for many years. The National Association for the Education of Young Children recently noted just how grand the CEC is by granting it re-accreditation.

A year-long process, the reaccreditation means the CEC has been recognized for modeling the best practices in early care and education. Part of the accreditation process is to be scored on several standards: relationships, curriculum, teaching, assessment of child progress, health, teachers, families, community relationships, physical environment, leadership and management.

Sharalle Arnold, director of the CEC, has seen many changes since she began as assistant director in 2004, though the biggest milestones have been the center’s name change and new re-accreditation.

“According to our scores, the academy attributes a large part of our success to the teaching and relationships that our teaching staff establish,” Arnold said.

Along with the positive feedback, the NAEYC also said improvements could be made in the physical design of the building.

“Our building was not originally designed for three rooms, so we lack some of the basic essentials needed to compliment our shift from an open floor-mixed aged play approach to a more enriching early learning environment that supports a traditional preschool,” Arnold explained.

Still, Arnold said the group effort put into earning the re-accreditation was worth it. She said the whole process required a dedicated staff.

“My program assistant, Jessica (Miranda Bevier), is tremendously gifted,” Arnold said. “I could not have done this without her … The accreditation process under the new standards was more stringent than our initial effort; nonetheless, both experiences have caused us to evolve as an organization.”

Arnold credited support of the families enroling their children at the center, financial support throughout the application process and the staff’s willingness to implement the best practices as sources of the center’s success.

Though the accreditation is complete, Bevier said the center will continue to work to improve its policies.

“The implementation of accreditation standards in our program were not only in place just during our accreditation visit but have become an integral part of our program as we continue to improve and change our program,” she said.

The changes throughout the years have not only come in program development but even the center’s name.

The Children’s Enrichment Center was called the Children’s Center when Arnold first started as a part-time assistant director.

“(The Children’s Center) offered drop-in care and operated as a mixed-age learning and play experience, being a space for children to enjoy each other’s company,” Arnold said. “Now the center is appropriately called the Children’s Enrichment Center … enriching the lives of Grand Valley’s youngest students. This name change came about as a result of the philosophical shift and the creation of three learning rooms that are designed to meet individual needs based on research, development and interest.”

For more information on the Children’s Enrollment Center, visit its Web site at

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