Zachery Allen, Program Coordinator of Pre-kindergarten and 0-3 Programs for Collinsville Community Unit School District #10, has received a Level 5 Family Specialist Credential from Gateways to Opportunity.
Level 5 is the highest designation for the Gateways Family Specialist Credential. Gateways credentials are recognized by the state of Illinois and are awarded through the Illinois Department of Human Services based on education level, knowledge, skills and experience in the family services profession. Allen holds a B.A. in Psychology and M.A. in Human Services from the University of Illinois at Springfield.
Gateways to Opportunity is a statewide system designed to support Illinois early care and education, school-age, and youth development practitioners. It is administered by the Illinois Network of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (INCCRRA). Funding is provided by the Illinois Department of Human Services Bureau of Child Care and Development, the McCormick Foundation and Grand Victoria Foundation.
Allen has been coordinator of Unit 10’s Pre-K and 0-3 Programs for the past 5 years. Under his supervision, the program recently earned a Blue Ribbon Affiliate designation from Parents as Teachers. To achieve this designation, an affiliate must meet or exceed 17 essential requirements and meet at least 75% of additional Parents as Teachers Quality Standards. Blue Ribbon affiliates are recognized as being exemplary, delivering high quality services for children and families.
In addition, the district’s Preschool for All program has earned Gold Circle of Quality status across all Collinsville schools that offer it: Webster Elementary, Renfro Elementary and Kreitner Elementary. ExceleRate Illinois is the stateåÕs quality rating and improvement system for early learning and development programs that serve children from birth to age five.
Gold Circle of Quality is the highest level that can be achieved. ExceleRate Illinois bases its ratings on a set of standards that focus on early learning and development and places a high priority on instructional excellence, family services, staff qualifications, professional development and program administration. Data is gathered through compliance factors and monitoring visits where trained assessors collect evidence
Allen says Collinsville’s Pre-K program is successful in part because of the dedicated teachers, staff and resources available to them as well as the support of the district’s administrators. Birth-Three and Pre-K initiatives in Unit 10 are dedicated to children with developmental delays. Those students who qualify receive assistance and educational interventions to help them improve in areas of need.
Allen says, Having early educational opportunities available to district students is just the beginning. Having quality programming — using research based and developmentally appropriate practices — is key.