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NEWS | March 16, 2010

JB CHS School Age Program receives accreditation

By Airman 1st Class Ian Hoachlander 628th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The Council on Accreditation recently awarded accreditation to the Youth Programs' School Age Program here, which provides children regular access to clubs to support life skills and higher level activities.

With more than 1,800 programs serving more than seven million individuals each year currently accredited or in the process of seeking accreditation through the COA, Joint Base Charleston's School Age Program is one of the first to receive COA accreditation within the Air Force.

As an independent, international accreditation system, the COA is designed to be a frame of reference which an organization can measure a variety of its achievements. The COA evaluates community-based behavioral health care and human service organizations to improve service delivery outcomes by developing, applying and promoting accreditation standards.

Measured against 150 of those standards, the Youth Program's staff and services were critiqued on safety, health, administration and human resource requirements to earn accreditation.

"A lot of hard work and long hours from the staff went into this wonderful accomplishment," said Shannon Norris, Youth Programs director. "The staff can take pride in what they have done. They know this would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication to the program and the children."

The Youth Programs director said COA accreditation was a first for Youth Programs and a result of the Air Force's decision to seek accreditation through new avenues such as COA, which publicizes accreditation as a catalyst for change to build on an organization's strengths and helps it achieve better results in all areas.

"The standards we are required to meet are now more in depth compared to the company we were accredited through in the past," Ms. Norris said.

Paula Matthews, the School Age Program coordinator, said the School Age Program staff worked toward excellence even before becoming accredited through COA, but the hard work her staff went through to receive this accreditation has given reassurance the staff is capable of providing quality care to the children.

"It is such a wonderful feeling," said Ms. Matthews. "Going through the accreditation process gave our staff a chance to look at the care we were providing and make corrections to some of the areas that needed to be corrected."

The achievement serves to show Airmen and parents the program meets national standards and is a prime choice when it comes to after-school care.

Ms. Matthews said it is the staff's goal to continually provide the best quality care possible, allowing children to learn through play in their various programs such as the sewing club, drama club and science club, which in return meet the interests of the children throughout the whole year.

"I am very excited that we met the COA standards and our program has received the stamp of approval to becoming one of the best after-school program child care providers," she said.