TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pa. - Tobyhanna's Child, Youth and School Services (CYSS) program joins over 550 nationally accredited programs who serve as role models for excellence.

On June 1, members of the depot's CYSS program received their endorsement visit from the National AfterSchool Association (NAA). The purpose of the visit was to grant accreditation, which recognizes quality afterschool programming, according to NAA standards, to Tobyhanna's School Age Services.

Tobyhanna's School Age Services program met or exceeded NAA's requirements for accreditation based on 144 quality standards for quality school age care, says Jennifer Williams, CYSS Program Director. The standards are focused on human relationships, indoor environment, outdoor environment, activities, safety, health and nutrition, and administration.

Following the visit, CYSS staff members received a program improvement and accreditation report that notes the program's strengths and weaknesses, and will serve as a tool for improving the program, Chris Schmidt, NAA accreditation manager, explained in a letter to Williams, .

Mary Thomas commended the program, saying, "Although weaknesses are difficult to find, the CYSS is always changing, growing and improving the programs it offers for children of all ages and families." She notes that staff members "welcome all comments, questions and suggestions, and allow for complete visibility and understanding of programs and operations." Thomas is a parent and member of Advancing School-age childcare Quality (ASQ) team. ASQ is a group comprised of staff members and parents that meet to discuss improvements and prepare the program for accreditation.

Noted strengths of the program include the integration of multi-cultural activities, a garden started by the children, implementation of stimulating/enriching activities for all age groups and semi-annual parent conferences. Karen Boruta, parent and member of the ASQ team, notes that the multi-cultural activities allow the children to share something that is special to them, such as a family recipe or tradition, and to be proud of their heritage.

"The multicultural focus and diverse activities allow my child to excel in areas he already loves while still affording him the opportunity to learn new skills," says Paula Mesaris, adding that "frequent communication with staff members keeps me in the loop as to his progress." Mesaris is a parent and member of ASQ team.

Williams notes that staff members will monitor and observe the program for needed improvements and will use the recommendations from the NAA staff to provide for continuous improvement over the next four years.

"We have already discussed implementating more exposure to multicultural languages, ways to improve communication among the children and staff, more convenient avenues for involving families, and continuing to offer our multicultural themes monthly, which involve partnering with our families and community for special guest speakers and events."

After congratulating CYSS staff members, Schmidt explained that "the children, families, staff and community you serve will continue to benefit and grow as a result of your efforts." Williams notes that the accreditation process is a team effort between parents, families, staff and children.

"Achieving accreditation is a great accomplishment and everyone should be commended for their hard work and congratulated on their success."

Tobyhanna Army Depot is the Defense Department's largest center for the repair, overhaul and fabrication of a wide variety of electronics systems and components, from tactical field radios to the ground terminals for the defense satellite communications network. Tobyhanna's missions support all branches of the Armed Forces.

About 5,600 personnel are employed at Tobyhanna, which is located in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania.

Tobyhanna Army Depot is part of the U.S. Army CECOM Life Cycle Management Command. Headquartered at Fort Monmouth, N.J., the command's mission is to research, develop, acquire, field and sustain communications, command, control computer, intelligence, electronic warfare and sensors capabilities for the Armed Forces.