ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- An APG youth center program recently earned an expedited reaccreditation to last five years after several improvements to the center.
As required by the Department of Defense, the APG South (Edgewood) School Age Center program received reaccreditation from the non-profit Council of Accreditation.
According to APG South facility director Jay McKinney, the reaccreditation process took about 14 months, and the accreditation will last five years.
Mckinney said the reaccreditation was expedited through the review process as a result of not receiving any "ratings out of compliance in the fundamental practice or core standards."
"It means we are doing what we need to do, correctly," he said. "The reaccreditation is a way to show your customers, the parents, that we want a quality, safe program."
Child, Youth and School Services Coordinator Ruth Strauss called it an "amazing achievement."
"It demonstrates the dedication and attention to detail the staff have and that they deliver awesome experiences that enhance children's learning and understanding of the complex world they live in," she said. "It demonstrates a program built on mutual respect of children, staff and families."
To be reaccredited there are several standards that the center had to meet, Mckinney said, which is organized into three separate sections: administration, human resources and programing.
During the process Mckinney submitted written evidence that the school age program complied with the COA, known as a "self-study."
In the final phase a reviewer made a site visit to the APG South youth center, Dec. 14-15, 2015, to confirm that the SAC program was adhering to the evidence in the self-study. The reviewer observed the center and interviewed children, staff and parents.
Mckinney said to prepare for the reaccreditation, in addition to submitting paperwork, the center underwent a series of renovations. Projects included installing a brand new floor, repainting the walls, and purchasing new furniture and supplies. The center also set up dedicated areas in the SAC room for activities, called "Amazing Stations." Stations include art, games, reading and acting.
McKinney said he used input from youth center parents and children to implement the changes.
"We really streamlined the building so it looks more professional," he said. "We changed the environment around, so it is more conducive to school age. We want to make it a fun, safe environment for kids to play."
Mckinney thanked all the staff members for their dedication, calling it a "team effort." McKinney also thanked the support of Strauss and APG Garrison leadership, especially retired Col. Gregory R. McClinton, who was the garrison commander when the reaccreditation process began.
"Col. McClinton, when I first came here really supported me in transforming this building," he said. "Without the support of the garrison and the support of my chief, I wouldn't be able to achieve this."
According to Mckinney, there are several upcoming projects planned for this year including installing a new gym floor, repainting the gym, building a patio for middle school students and buying a greenhouse.
"We plan to make continuous improvements," he said.
The APG South youth center has 10 staff members and provides care before and after school for about 18 children per day, in kindergarten through eighth grade. The youth center partners with the National 4-H, Character Counts and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, to provide fun, educational activities for the children.
The Council on Accreditation is an international, independent, nonprofit, human service accrediting organization founded in 1977 by the Child Welfare League of America and Family Service America (now the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities). The mission of COA is to partner with human service organizations worldwide to improve service delivery outcomes by developing, applying, and promoting accreditation standards.
For more information about APG CYSS programs, visit http://www.apgmwr.com/child-youth-school-services/cyss-home or call Outreach Services 410-278-7571.