This year, in this column, Early Childhood Today has covered the NAEYC's newly recommended guidelines for achieving developmentally appropriate practice:
  1. Creating a Caring Community of Learners
  2. Teaching to Enhance Development and Learning
  3. Constructing Appropriate Curriculum
  4. Assessing Children's Learning and Development
  5. Establishing Reciprocal Relationships with Families

Our daily work only accomplishes a portion of the goals our profession is striving to attain. For all programs to be developmentally appropriate, a wellfunded, solid infrastructure of supportive policies and resources must be in place-community-wide, statewide, and nationally.

Efforts to build, maintain, and improve the quality of early care and education through local, state, and national initiatives are commonly called advocacy or policymaking. Each of us, as professionals, can become involved in policymaking by working on specific committees and with diverse groups of child-advocacy organizations such as Stand for Children, Child Care Action Campaign, and the Children's Defense Fund. To find local advocacy groups, contact your NAEYC or NCCA affiliate.

Guidelines for Excellence and Advocacy

NAEYC has developed the following set of recommendations to policymakers at every level-local, state, and national. Quality early childhood education must have the following components:

  • A comprehensive professional preparation and development system to ensure a pool of qualified personnel.
  • Funding to ensure adequate staffing of programs and fair staff compensation.
  • Resources and expertise to provide safe, stimulating learning environments with a sufficient number and variety of appropriate materials and equipment for each age group served.
  • Adequate systems for regulating and monitoring program quality.
  • Community resources to support the comprehensive needs of children and families.
  • Individual strategies, such as more focused time, one-on-one instruction, and tutoring, for children whose learning progress is not as expected. Social promotion and grade-retention are not considered options.
  • Children's evaluations that are based on multiple indicators in all developmental domains and regularly reported to families. Group-administered, standardized, multiple-choice achievement tests are not to be used before third grade.

Please review this list to help you determine where you would like to focus your advocacy efforts.

Contact these organizations to make connections or learn about current events related to children:
Association for Childhood Education International (800-423-3563)
Child Care Action Campaign (212-239-- 0138)
Children's Defense Fund (202-628-8787)
National Association for the Education of Young Children (800-24-2460)
National Child Care Association (800-543-- 7161)
Stand for Children (800-663-4032)