The University of Texas-Pan American Child Development Center (CDC) has recently been recognized as a nationally accredited center for their early child care and educational programs. The center is one out of only two child development centers in the Rio Grande Valley to receive this recognition.
The National Accreditation Commission for Early Care and Education Programs awarded this honor to UTPA's CDC for providing high quality programs that are favorable to a child's environment, growth and development. In addition, CDC also provides its staff with developmental opportunities.
According to Perez, there are many components, such as environment, health and safety, child to teacher ratio, curriculum and activities that are looked at in order to be considered for national recognition.
"We are proud that we have been able to provide high quality standards in these areas," Perez said. "All of our staff take the initiative to provide these services."
Perez describes CDC as a place of developmental learning for children from 3 months to 4 years of age. Children are placed in structured classes that are divided by age groups. The average children-to-teacher ratio is 4:1. Each class provides lessons on materials appropriate to their age and that will be useful later in school.
Perez said each CDC teacher creates a lesson plan. Babies are taught how to crawl, walk and run. They are also taught sign language at 19 months for means of communication. As children advance they are taught shapes, colors, sounds, reading, math, art and other activities that will help increase their self-esteem and self-confidence in abilities and communication skills. They are also provided with nutritional meals and snacks as well as indoor and outdoor hands-on activities that will help with their developmental growth.
"We provide the foundation here at CDC for the tools they need later in life," Perez said. "Our children don't just play. They are learning through play."
Perez and her staff agree that providing children with these types of opportunities help make children more prepared to enter kindergarten.
"It is such as honor when parents come back to thank us and to let us know that their child is being placed in gifted and talented because they are advanced," Perez said.
CDC child development specialist and parent, Monica Vasquez, has seen firsthand how the benefits have helped her 3-year-old son.
"I have had a great experience with the CDC, not only because I work here, but my son has reaped many benefits," Vasquez said. "He's three and can read. He gets home excited with the things he learns every day."
Vasquez said she loves to see the children communicate and learn from each other. She feels it is an honor to have received this recognition and finds that it is their dedication to their responsibility of teaching that have helped them get to where they are today and have helped the children grow.
"I can honestly say through experience with my son that when parents leave their kids here they have nothing to worry about," Vasquez said. "Their children are safe, learning and always have someone to talk to. We treat all of them as our own."
Perez believes that the self-assessments and assessments of each other as CDC staff members has helped in building committed and dedicated educators for the children.
"My staff love what they do and I hope that will lead to continuing and maintaining the pursuit of high quality care," Perez said. "We value our children and their families."
CDC is open to any UTPA student, faculty or staff member who are in need of child care assistance.
For more information on CDC visit http://www.utpa.edu/childcare or call 956/381-2469.