Daily Journal Corinth Bureau
CORINTH – By the end of this week early childhood education supporters expect the Corinth Alcorn Excel By 5 program to be awarded initial certification as an early childhood-friendly community.
A group of community supporters has been working for about two years with the Commission on the Future of Alcorn County to achieve certification, which is awarded for a three-year period.
“We think we’re there, but this is the hardest part of the certification process,” said certification manager Susan O’Connell. “This week we’re just verifying that the child care centers have met all the training requirements.”
Eleven of the county’s 15 child care centers have signed on with Excel By 5, and its state representative Kayla Beck will be in the county this week to verify that each meets the requirements for certification, which include the following staff requirements and more:
• That 40 percent or more of the educational staff have acquired an additional five hours of continuing education training per year above and beyond the 15 hours required by the state.
• That 40 percent or more of the educational staff are highly trained, meaning they have earned the Child Development Associate credential or have earned a college degree in a childhood education field.
“The city and county school systems have been inviting the centers to their continuing education programs, so they have many, many opportunities to get the training they need, and we think they’ve met that,” O’Connell said. “If they’re not at 40 percent, we must wait until they have another class, but we think we’re there.”
Recertification continues with every year adding more substance to what has already been accomplished, O’Connell said.
Excel by 5 is a program to support child development from age 0-5, developed through a collaboration of the Mississippi State University Early Childhood Institute and Chevron.
The certification process includes documenting commitment in four distinct areas: community support and involvement, family and parent support, early care and education, and health.
“We really want to say thank you to the centers who are working with us and to the volunteers,” O’Connell said. “Two years is a long process and they have to be really committed to follow through on this. We really appreciate them.”