The center, which has been operated by the Saint Philip AME Church since 1980, earned the certificate from the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning Bright from the Start program in April.
Center of Distinction is awarded to less than two percent of Georgia's child care centers that care for children up to 4 years old.Gloria Kelly, the center's director for four years, said the school set itself the goal three years ago to go after state accreditation.
"It's been three years of hard work and challenges but it has paid off," said Kelly, who became the center's director in 2003 after serving as assistant director for six years.
In announcing the award, Marsha H. Moore, Bright from the Start commissioner, said Saint Philip CDC is providing exemplary care for children.
"Centers that earn this distinction are providing children with appropriate nurturing and educational activities that stimulate healthy development and learning," Moore said.
The state created the voluntary Standards of Care after 1990s brain research validated the importance of appropriate care and education of young children and the need for early intervention to optimize the window of opportunity during the first years of a child's life. Moore said the research underscores the importance of early learning and practical "hands-on" activities that encourage brain development.
Kelly said that achieving the accrediation tells the community that children are the first priority of their child development center.
"How well children are cared for and educated during their preschool years will help them receive the appropriate skills to succeed in life," she said.
To become a Center of Distinction, Kelly said that the center secured a Quality Environment Grant to help it purchase materials and equipment needed to meet Center of Distinction criteria. She also hired new staff and adopted a child-focused curriculum.
"The first thing we did was get rid of the desk, which causes the teachers to have more interaction with the children," she said. "They are down at the children's level and communicating to them through