The Council on Accreditation recently conducted an audit of the Youth Center at Hill Air Force Base and found all fundamental and core areas of the program to be in compliance. The COA praised the center in a news release as an outstanding provider of after school services.
While the Youth Center regularly maintains its state and federal credentials, the COA conducts audits at the international level as an independent nonprofit accreditation organization working in the behavioral health care and human services areas.
"What they do is they come in and they inspect your building, your program, all of your paperwork to make sure that everybody is background checked, that everything that you say you're doing in the program is actually happening," said Eddie Mahurin, Youth Center Program assistant.
She said they also look to make sure all the paperwork is up to date and that they're doing it correctly.
"So, if we say that the children help us with the programming - (give us) their input - we can back it up with the paperwork showing that, 'Yes, we do ask them every week what they like, what they don't like (and) what they would like to do in the program,'" Mayhern added. For example, she said maybe they would like to know more about sharks. So then the staff will try to work that into the different areas at the center, in the music room, in the arts, and in some of the various learning centers at the center.
Sometimes the youth will ask for something inappropriate like brownies every day for snacks. "Of course we can't do that and we explain to them why," she said. But their input does make a difference in the snack menu if it fits in with USDA guidelines.
Parents' input is sought as well, and sometimes the two groups will conflict. "They want homework" she said. "Of course when you talk to the children they don't want homework. So we kind of have to bring the two together."
The solution the staff worked out in the area of homework is handled with "Power Hour," a program that the Boys and Girls Clubs of America use and the Youth Center has adopted. Children who work on homework as an optional activity during that time receive points toward educational prizes given quarterly, such as backpacks, notebooks, pens, pencils and erasers. On a yearly basis, gift certificates to a local bookstore can also be earned.
"If you're doing what you're supposed to be doing, you really have nothing to be worried about," said Kelly Martin, who works at the Youth Center in the gym as she talked about the auditing process. "We had a lot of preparation beforehand. We do have people come in and inspect us on a regular basis. It didn't disrupt the day at all."
Martin said she also took particular care to explain the Air Force Fit Factor program which allows parents and children to participate alone or together in exercise and receive credit for it. The program allows participation by registering points on the Year of the Air Force Family Web site for prizes, and encourages fitness as a family. The Web site can be accessed at www.afgetfit.com.
Bret Terrill, in charge of the Imagination Room at the center thought management had done a good job of preparing them for the inspection. The Youth Center worker in charge of drama, arts and theater said, "We started way back in September or October of last year. At least twice a month we had some kind of training. So it's no surprise, we were pretty well-prepared."