Austin Community CollegeChild Development Department
Child Development Department
3401 Webberville Rd.
Building 5000
Austin, TX 78702
Conceptual Framework

Austin Community College District Child Development Department Conceptual Framework

Conceptual Framework Guides

Our Vision:

The ACC Child Care and Development Department envisions exemplary early childhood educators working with young children and their families.

Our Mission:

The Child Care and Development Department prepares knowledgeable and accomplished professionals to work with young children, families, and other professionals in a variety of roles in early childhood education by providing multiple educational opportunities and degree options.

To fulfill its mission, the Child Care and Development department staff and faculty will:

  1. Honor the uniqueness of each individual by creating a learning environment that reflects the growing diversity of adult students, children, families and the community.
  2. Use a variety of research-based instructional methods to help students understand child development and developmentally appropriate practices.
  3. Support students in being successful learners, using available resources and navigating barriers to complete educational goals.
  4. Model leadership in the early childhood community
  5. Assure continued responsiveness to the early childhood community and its changing needs and trends
  6. Advocate for children, families and early childhood professionals

The ACC Child Development Department's Conceptual Framework guides our practice as educators, our work as colleagues, and our role in the community.

One core belief forms the basis for all our other guiding principles—respect for the inherent value of each person’s unique perspective, culture, developmental stage and experiences. Mutual respect among all groups creates the sense of belonging, trust and depth of relationship that we believe is essential to fulfill our mission in our work as educators, as a faculty, and as members of the early care and education community. These groups include the teacher, child, and family; the faculty and college student; colleagues in the Department and the College; and the Greater Austin early childhood community.

Beliefs that Guide Our Practice as Educators:

Major theorists, influential practitioners and our own professional experiences have informed our beliefs about teaching and learning. As a faculty, we draw on a multitude of theorists and theories to teach principles of learning and models of development, both in early education, child development, and cognitive neuroscience. We specifically credit Piaget, Vygotsky, Bronfenbrenner, Erikson, and Dewey for our understanding about the active, social, and contextual nature of play and learning and its importance in a democratic society. Great practitioners like Feeney, Katz, Jones, Derman-Sparks, Brazelton, Gandini, Gerber, Carter, and Curtis guide our thinking about ethics, adult learners, reflective practice, cultural competence and research-based best practices with children.


We believe learning for both children and adults:


  • requires strong relationships based on mutual trust, respect, ethical practice and responsiveness which are the cornerstones of learning
  • results from active engagement that allows for exploration and experimentation with materials, concepts and the environment
  • is developmental and constructivist, building upon prior knowledge in all developmental domains
  • is lifelong, based on play, fed by curiosity and a willingness to take risks


Based on these beliefs about learning, we agree that the role of faculty is to:


  • prepare students with the knowledge and skills needed to work effectively and responsibly in diverse, inclusive early childhood settings
  • design a coherent, comprehensive curriculum that uses NAEYC standards as a foundation  
  • inspire students to realize the tremendous impact of their work with children and families and to aspire to a high level of professionalism, ethics, advocacy and community involvement
  • facilitate deeper learning by providing opportunities to put theory into practice and to reflect upon these experiences
  • promote retention and nurture student success by establishing a learning environment that:
  • builds a caring community of learners
    • offers the support and resources to meet the unique needs of students
    • encourages students to be active participants in their learning and provides opportunities for them to learn from each other
    • scaffolds learning based on our assessments of individual needs, using a variety of methods to support individual learning
    • instills passion for the early childhood profession
  • provide high quality instruction by using the most current research-based practices

Beliefs that Guide Our Work as Colleagues

We believe in the importance of collaboration, respect, shared decision-making, and service as the foundation for our work as a department, within the college, and with our colleagues across the country.

  • We accomplish our best work through collaborative efforts:
    • in teaching through mentoring, sharing of ideas and resources, and collaborative problem solving
    • in partnerships between the Lab School staff, faculty and the community to strengthen our fieldwork experiences
    • with other ACC departments, including Student Services, Student Support, and other instructional programs, to promote student success
    • with professional colleagues across the state and throughout the country to improve our practices and better serve our students and the community 
  • We value and respect each person’s contribution, culture, and perspective which guides our work with:
    • ACC faculty and staff for their contributions in preparing knowledgeable and competent early childhood professionals
    • Lab School teachers and staff in their dual role as teachers of young children and our adult students
    • our early childhood colleagues across the state and country in advocacy efforts to improve the profession and preparation of early childhood professionals
  • Open dialogue and deliberation form the basis for shared decision-making:
    • in our department as we grapple with important ideas and issues related to our students and curricula
    • in the shared governance processes of the college, as we serve on college-wide committees and councils
  • Service to others is the cornerstone of our work with:
    • our students as we seek to provide a meaningful, valuable educational experience
    • our department as we contribute our personal strengths and gifts for the betterment of all
    • our college in support of its mission and vision
    • our community as important partners in the field of early childhood

Beliefs that Guide Our Role in the Community

The Child Care and Development Department is an active and collaborative partner in our community. We believe that a strong connection to the community is an essential aspect of our work. The core beliefs that guide our work in the community include:


  • everyone deserves access to a high quality education. We work to ensure accessibility, affordability, and quality for children, families, and adult students
  • our primary role in the community is to provide the highest quality of education, support, and mentoring
  • professional responsibility to provide leadership, service and advocacy to create positive change in the community
  • collaboration with community partners to improve the field of early childhood education
  • implementation of programs and services that respond to the needs of the community
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