Early Childhood Education

American Associate Degree Early Childhood Educators (ACCESS)

 

American Associate Degree Early Childhood Educators (ACCESS) is an organization that provides national visibility and voice for associate early childhood degree programs, faculty, and students. ACCESS began in 1989 as a network of faculty who met at the annual conference of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Today, ACCESS is a national, nonprofit 501(c) (3) membership association with members in the majority of states, a handful of state affiliates, a presence at national early childhood and higher education conferences, and membership resources offered primarily through its Web site.

ACCESS members include full-time and adjunct faculty with early childhood assignments at associate degree programs, campus children’s center faculty, and other individuals who share an interest in early childhood teacher career development and education. The organization offers professional support through its Web site, presentations at national and state conferences, and member networks and state affiliates.

The organization’s purpose is to support and advocate for strong associate degree programs that provide professional development to those who teach and care for young children from birth through age 8 across a variety of settings— public elementary schools, Head Start programs, child-care centers and homes, and other community early childhood programs. Advocacy for associate to baccalaureate articulate agreements and for a national associate degree accreditation system have been at the center of the organization’s work since its founding.

ACCESS national board members worked with NAEYC to develop national standards for associate degree programs in 1992 and again in 2002. ACCESS endorsed both sets of standards. ACCESS participated in a feasibility study workgroup and in the Advisory Council, supporting NAEYC’s initiative to develop a national early childhood associate degree accreditation system.

National and state ACCESS efforts focus on supporting innovative, high-quality practices in early childhood teacher education; offering expertise regarding the role of associate degree programs in the early childhood teacher education system; and advocating for policies and systems that strengthen professional qualifications while increasing diversity in our nation’s early childhood teachers.

Further Readings: American Associate Degree Early Childhood Educators (ACCESS): Available online at www.accessece.org.

Alison Lutton