The National Association for the Education of Young Children recently accredited All Five preschool, making it the only preschool program in Menlo Park's Belle Haven neighborhood and the East Palo Alto area to receive the recognition.
The association is a professional membership organization that promotes high-quality early learning for children from infancy to age 8, according to its website.
"It's a mark of quality that requires staff students, parents and board members to all reflect on best practices," said All Five's executive director Carol Thomsen.
The preschool received news of its accreditation last month after a nearly two-year application process, she said.
There are 10 requirements that programs accredited through the association have to fulfill, including implementing a curriculum that fosters all areas of child development: cognitive, emotional, language, physical and social.
According to the association's website, the program must also have in place strong personnel, fiscal, and program management policies so that all children, families and staff have high-quality experiences; employ and support a teaching staff that has the educational qualifications, knowledge and professional commitment necessary to promote children's learning and development; and support families' diverse interests and needs.
All Five is in the process of trying to expand its services to younger children. School officials launched a campaign in November to raise $800,000 for an infants and toddlers program that would begin this fall. The school currently serves students who range in age from 2 years, 9 months, to prekindergarten.
"The excitement is really building," Thomsen said, noting that the campaign received 50 additional donations over the holidays.
By the end of January, All Five officials will know whether they have raised enough money to open enrollment for younger age groups, she said.
If the fundraising campaign succeeds, the preschool will have capacity for 36 to 40 preschoolers, three infants and six toddlers. About 24 preschoolers now attend the preschool, Thomsen said.
The planned expansion comes as San Mateo County families are struggling to find child care services. The county will need to fill about 2,500 teaching spots by 2025 to keep pace with the growing need for early childhood education programs, according to a 2016 early learning facilities needs assessment for the county. Between now and 2025, there is a projected shortage of about 14,000 slots for children in early education classrooms, according to the assessment.
Families interested in the All Five program can email an application to firstname.lastname@example.org. The form can be found on the All Five website.
School officials will host site visits for applicants in February, Thomsen said.