St. Charles Children’s Learning Center at CSM Earns Accreditation

Shauna Covert

Center at La Plata Campus Completes Two-year Process

The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) has conferred accreditation on the St. Charles Children’s Learning Center at the College of Southern Maryland, located at the La Plata Campus.

Accreditation indicates that the center meets MSDE standards of excellence. “Being an accredited center is public recognition that we have voluntarily achieved standards above and beyond those required by state licensing,” said Marcy Gannon, CSM executive director of auxiliary services. “From an enrollment standpoint, accreditation shows families that we are committed to providing high quality care to young children. Being an accredited child care center on a college campus further shows that we are committed to higher standards and how we value education, as our teachers must meet higher education and continuing education requirements.”

“Parents should feel confident bringing their children here,” said Shirley Allen, director of the center for the past four years. “Accreditation says that we are a center of excellence, of quality, commitment. We want to provide the best care for our children and families.”

The St. Charles Children’s Learning Center, which celebrated its 10-year anniversary this year, is staffed by 29 employees and offers care for up to 118 students ages 8 weeks to 12 years old. The center offers 10,000 square feet of learning space, including nine child-centered classrooms, a gymnasium, and a prep kitchen. In addition, the center has its own private landscaped playground and access to the CSM campus grounds. The center aims to fill about 25 percent of its openings with children of CSM students and 75 percent with children from the community, CSM staff and CSM faculty.

The center was awarded accreditation after a two-year process during which the center had to prove that it met MSDE’s required standards and onsite inspectors needed to observe and approve the programs and operations there. “It’s a challenge. It’s a big undertaking while still keeping up with the regular operation of the center,” Allen said.

Nevertheless, she noted that the voluntary process to pursue accreditation was a positive one for the center. “It had us take a bird’s-eye view at everything we do at the facility. Everything.” To prepare for the process, Allen said she visited other accredited facilities in the state and asked a lot questions.

She said she felt from the beginning that one of the main strengths of the Children’s Learning Center is its teachers. “I knew the teachers would blow them away – The teachers in the classroom are the ones who made this happen. They are the ones who should take all the credit. They work very hard. They live the accreditation standards. I am very proud of them for everything they have done.”

The MSDE accreditation status will be in effect through the end of 2019, when the center can choose to go through the process again.

The Center and its staff are devoted to creating an environment that helps children interact with their world and peers – building confidence, self-esteem and a lifelong love of learning. Openings for additional children are currently available.

For information on the St. Charles Children’s Learning Center, see or call 301-934-7871. For more about MSDE accreditation, see