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  • Writer's pictureBrooklynn Thomas

The Journey to NAEYC Accreditation at East Coast Migrant Head Start Project

East Coast Migrant Head Start Project‘s (ECMHSP) commitment to providing the highest quality early childhood education to migrant and seasonal farmworker children and families shines brightly, particularly through National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) accreditation.  

Our recent achievement of NAEYC accreditation for our Bowling Green and Bartow educational campuses, in Florida, is not just a badge of honor, but a testament to excellence and illustrates a journey to excellence that we prioritize at all our locations. But what does this journey entail, and why is a NAEYC accreditation so important for ECMHSP and the families we serve?  

By navigating the intricate accreditation process and meeting the criteria set forth by NAEYC, ECMHSP not only enhances its stature within the educational community, but also reaffirms its commitment to fostering an environment where young minds are nurtured to realize their full potential. 

“Becoming NAEYC accredited makes me proud,” said Patricia Sullivan, Bowling Green Educational Campus Director. “Knowing that our team of educators can visually show the community that we continue to excel in providing quality early childhood care to families in this rural community means a lot.”  

Unveiling NAEYC Accreditation 

NAEYC is a large nonprofit association in the United States representing early childhood professionals, including teachers, support staff, center directors, trainers, college educators, families of young children, policy makers, and advocates. For more than 30 years, NAEYC staff have worked together with program staff across the country to implement best practices and develop a consistent understanding of how to achieve and maintain high quality early childhood education. 

The accreditation process is rigorous, involving an in-depth review of a program's practices, from teaching methods to engaging with families. The process begins with a thorough self-assessment, which evaluates all aspects of a campus, such as curriculum, interactions between staff and children, program plans, and more. Our teams work together to develop a portfolio that includes documentation and evidence of these practices, and that supports the application. Once that is complete, then a campus applies for NAEYC accreditation.  

Once the application is submitted and accepted, NAEYC assigns a team of trained assessors to conduct an on-site campus visit. During the visit, the assessor will observe the program operations, while utilizing a reliable rating system to verify NAEYC standards compliance. Then, data from the program portfolio and results from the classroom and campus observations will be used to make an accreditation decision. 

Achieving Excellence in Early Childhood Education 

At the Bartow and Bowling Green educational campuses, the journey to accreditation was quite lengthy, but thoughtfully spearheaded by each campus team, who faced and overcame numerous challenges achieving accreditation. 

“This serves as a mark of credibility for a childcare program or preschool, assuring families that ECMHSP meets and exceeds national standards of quality,” said Daniel Jaime, ECMHSP Head Start administrator for the Florida West region

Achieving NAEYC accreditation demonstrates ECMHSP’s commitment to providing high quality early childhood education and care for young children. Out of all 43 campuses, ECMHSP currently has 35 campuses that are NAEYC accredited. This offers many opportunities for our programs and services to be widely recognized and represented within the early childhood education community, as well as by parents, educators, and policymakers.  

"I've always found it incredibly rewarding when my children attend Bowling Green educational campus. The teachers there genuinely engage with me about the aspirations I hold for my child, collaborating closely to ensure those ambitions are achieved. They honor the objectives we, as parents, set forth, tailoring their approach to suit the educational needs specific to each age group. Their commitment to providing exceptional care never falters,” said Ms. Griselda. “Take my older child, a proud Bowling Green ECMHSP alumni, now excelling in public school and on the verge of being assessed for the gifted program. This, to me, speaks volumes of the caliber of education and support extended at ECMHSP."

Parents are excited about accreditation and what it means for quality. Some parents thought accreditation was only for expensive ‘fancy’ childcare centers, and never thought their children would be in an accredited center.  

The accreditation recognition is incredibly validating for the parents, educators, and staff at our campuses and gives more of a sense of pride to the community about the added value that our centers, services, and care brings.  

“The accreditation gives us the outside recognition from parents and the community provider,” continued Sullivan. “Our campus receives accolades from our local childcare licensing department when they visit. The inspector says, ‘I wish all the centers were like here. You always go above and, keep up the good work.’”  

Commitment to Highest Quality Head Start Standards 

Our organization’s attainment of NAEYC accreditation for its campuses is a significant milestone that underscores an unwavering dedication to educational excellence and comprehensive care for the children of migrant and seasonal farmworkers.

NAEYC accreditation gives our agency a look of significant providers within the community and surrounding areas. It allows others to view us as ‘programs of excellence’ with an abundance of quality care for all children and families who are part of our mission to serve,” said Karena Live, Bartow Educational Campus Director.  

The support and dedicated staff, parents, and community alike illuminate the profound impact that this dedication to quality has on shaping the future of the children it serves, setting a benchmark for excellence and inclusivity in early childhood education across the nation. 


East Coast Migrant Head Start Project was established in 1974 through a grant from the United States Department of Health and Human Services. Currently, ECMHSP operates in 43 Educational Campuses across ten states providing holistic, high-quality early childhood education services for approximately 3,000 farmworker children between six weeks to six years old. For more information, visit  

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