Earlier this summer, Hickory Creek Child Center received three-star accreditation from the Early Learning Leaders National Accreditation Commission.
Starting Aug. 1, Hickory Creek will be adding another three-star accreditation from the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.
In a press release sent to the Hickory Creek staff from the Early Learning Leaders National Accreditation Commission, a three-star accreditation means Hickory Creek provides high quality program for the kids, opportunities for staff to grow professionally, and provides an environment for children conducive to their individual growth.
Being awarded a three-star accreditation was no small feat for the Hickory Creek staff. They began the process of working towards accreditation in Oct. 2015.
Hickory Creek director Joanne Thomas oversaw the turnaround of the center.
“It means that we have achieved an excellence in early childhood education that involves the children, parents, teachers and community partners,” Thomas said. “When we meet these standards they have set forth, they recognize us as providing a safe and healthy environment for the children, having teachers that are well trained and the teachers have access to excellent teaching materials.”
Through a strenuous process, the staff at Hickory Creek spent 18 months going through a self-study process. During the self-study process, administrators, staff and parents had to evaluate the program in accordance with accreditation standards.
After submitting the self-study to the administration, the National Accreditation Commission visited the Hickory Creek center in March to study the center and its files.
“They observed the classrooms and spoke with me at length,” Thomas said. “Then they took all that information along with the self-study packet and went back to the commission and that is when they made the determination that we were eligible to become a nationally accredited center.”
The qualifications of becoming an Oklahoma Department of Human Services three-star facility include: an annual parent and staff program assessment, center directors and teachers receiving additional training in child development every year, centers have weekly lesson plans and interest areas, being nationally accredited first and maintain a perfect Department of Human Services monitoring visits.
Helping a program become a three-star facility is nothing new for Thomas. Hickory Creek became the third three-star accredited facility under her leadership behind Madill Child Care Center and the Gloria Ainsworth Center in Ardmore.
According to Thomas, Madill Child Care Center was the first three-star accredited in southern Oklahoma.
“It never gets old,” Thomas said. “To watch the teachers grow and learn, to watch the children be provided the very best quality care. It’s really an awesome thing to be involved with a center like this.”