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Anfernee Wright, Brandon Castellon and Reily Farris surf the Web and play games in the Fort Sill School Age Center computer lab. The SAC also offers a homework center and a gym for the children to use before and after school.

FORT SILL, Okla. -- School-age children on Fort Sill have good reason to celebrate -- their School Age Center has been accredited and is considered a model program for the nation.

In a letter from Richard Klarberg, president and chief executive officer for the Council on Accreditation, the Fort Sill SAS center received expedited accreditation because they did not receive any out-of-compliance ratings for their fundamental practice or core standards.

"That's an amazing achievement," he said. "COA congratulates Fort Sill School Age Services for their hard work and wonderful achievement and is proud to have it as part of COA's Community of Excellence."

Brenda Spencer-Ragland, director of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, said this achievement included a tremendous amount of work in advance such as a comprehensive review of all programs offered, and providing the team copies of policies and procedures in place to ensure quality and consistent delivery of services.

"One of the comments received from the team was the pre-site documentation was the most thorough and complete they received to date, and it assisted tremendously with their onsite review.

"The purpose was to ensure staff providing services are properly trained and qualified to promote positive child and youth development," said Spencer-Ragland. "The accreditation team stated they were very impressed with the quality of training the center team receives, and the quality of the lesson plans the SAC team has developed and implemented throughout the center."

Some of the things that impressed the accreditation team were the number of students through the center each day, which averages at least 120 children, the new playground adjacent to the center for the children to play and exercise, the different centers for the children including the homework lab, the computer lab and the gym. The center also has an accountability board which allows the staff to know where each student is at any given moment.

According to Klarberg, COA accreditation is an objective and reliable verification that provides confidence and support to an after school program's children and youths, parents, staff and community partners. The COA accreditation process involves a detailed review and analysis of both a program's administrative operations and its service delivery practices. All are "measured" against national standards of best practices. These standards emphasize services that are accessible, appropriate, culturally responsive, evidence based and outcome-oriented. In addition, they confirm that the services are provided by a skilled and supported workforce and that all individuals are treated with dignity and respect.

Maj. Dorothy Brown, Mobilization and Deployment Brigade, has four of her six children enrolled in the SAC.

"I also have one in the child development center and one at the youth center. I'm very happy with all three centers but the variety of programs offered at the SAC for my children is great," said Brown.

Brown said her children are enrolled in both the before and after school program.

"When I drop them off at the center, I have peace of mind because I know they will get breakfast and get to school on time," she said. "Then after school, I know they are occupied with doing their homework, exercising or eating a healthy snack."

According to Brown, she can fulfill her mission as a Soldier and concentrate on her job without any worry - thanks to the staff at the center.

"The staff at the center is awesome -- they'll let you know if there's a problem with one of the children. They call me or pull me aside and talk to me and we discuss the problem and what I want to do about it," she said.

"My favorite parts of the center are the homework lab and the computer lab. I like that the kids have access to computers and also can get help with their homework," said Brown. "I like the physical fitness program too because the kids can run and play basketball. They get all-around care -- educational, physical and nutritional care."

Brown said she highly recommends the School Age Center to other parents. "It's a great program and all four of my kids are happy at the center."

Page last updated Thu February 10th, 2011 at 12:04