Caroline Smith, Operations Assistant at the Rend Lake College Foundation Children’s Center, has joined an elite group. She recently became just the 82nd person in the state to earn a Level I Director Credential.

The award was conferred by the Illinois Network of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies and the Illinois Director Credential Commission.

"I feel very accomplished. I am honored to be associated with such an elite group of professionals," said Smith, a Benton native.

A director is the driving force impacting the quality of an early care and education program. Directors hire and train staff, select and guide the implementation of curricula, establish the environment and set the tone for staff interactions, family involvement and community relations. As the leader, the director has the most influence on the success of the program, thereby enhancing the lives of children and their families.

The purpose of the Illinois Director Credential is to validate the achievement of competencies necessary for effective leadership and management of center-based early care and education programs, such as the RLCF Children’s Center.

Smith graduated from Rend Lake College in May 2003 with an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Child Development. After graduation, she began composing a solid portfolio for the IDCC and submitted it in March of this year. In April, she learned she had been approved.

"The credential is designed to recognize those who are operating at a high level of quality in all areas of knowledge and experience, while establishing a high standard of professionalism for the field," said Paula Jorde Bloom, Director of the Center for Early Childhood Leadership at National-Louis University.

Karen Bruning, Career Development Director for INCCRRA, said, "This is quite an accomplishment for Caroline and I am very pleased to have her on board. She has spent many years in the field and should be quite proud of herself."

"Early childhood directors are the gatekeepers to quality in early education. Their education, experience, skills and commitment affect the children and families they care for on many levels," said Jorde Bloom.

The Rend Lake College Foundation Children’s Center serves students as a quality child care facility and doubles as a training complex for students in the Child Development program. It also serves as a model for other child care facilities within the district. The center’s full-day program emphasizes developmentally appropriate curriculum featuring art, music, and indoor and outdoor learning centers.

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