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Patrick School Age Program sets the standard

Jessika Collie, 11 (left) and Jaelyn Derrickson, 9, play the game Life at Patrick’s School Age Program during their spring break from school. The SAP is open for children 5 to 12 years old and was recently given the Counsel on Accreditation stamp of approval for meeting national standards for operating school age programs. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Tom Czerwinski)

Jessika Collie, 11 (left) and Jaelyn Derrickson, 9, play the game Life at Patrick’s School Age Program during their spring break from school. The SAP is open for children 5 to 12 years old and was recently given the Counsel on Accreditation stamp of approval for meeting national standards for operating school age programs. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Tom Czerwinski)

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The Patrick Air Force Base School Age Program is the first in Air Force Space Command to be validated with the newly reinvented Council on Accreditation.

The accreditation process and visit was conducted by Juanita Swensen from the National COA office. Ms. Swenson is one of many endorsers contracted to various bases to talk about school age programs, and works with the COA to develop standards for school age programs.

"She is renowned for her assistance and development of the checklists and process with the COA program, and is known as the godmother of School Age Programs not only in the Air Force but the civilian sector as well," said Sandra Coleman, chief of Youth Programs at Air Force Space Command Headquarters.

This should be of great interest to the Patrick community. Now Patrick SAP is nationally accredited through COA.  COA views accreditation as a catalyst for change that builds on an organization's strengths and helps it achieve better results in all areas.

According to Ms. Swensen, during the two-day inspection there was not one write-up in the entire program to include paperwork, curriculum and interactions - instead she had three pages of commendable findings.

"The Patrick SAP was validated in 270 standards in the areas of human resources, administration and programs and services," said Alma Terrell,
SAP coordinator. "Ms. Swensen was a meticulous inspector."

Patrick's SAP is a before and after-school program with full-time hours during holiday breaks and the summer. SAP and is run by a staff of seven well trained professionals and has 43 children ages 5 to 12 enrolled.

"Our staff goes through various training; they must complete 15 modules within 18 months and comprehensive training. The training modules are in areas such as CPR, first aid and child abuse prevention training," said Susan Clark, training and curriculum specialist. "All these are mandated by
the Air Force and in addition they complete 24 hours of refresher training each year as a minimum."

"The Patrick community should feel good about using the School Age Program. Our staff is very professional, trustworthy, kind and great with children of all ages," said Ms. Terrell. "When our staff members are working with the children, everyone is treated like family."

The SAP typically goes through four different inspections yearly, including an unannounced inspection from the Air Force.

"This is the first time COA has visited us and we are the first school age program in Space Command to get COA's Patrick School Age Program sets the standard accreditation, so we are the pioneers," said Ms. Terrell. "Our success comes from teamwork and open ended communication between the staff, parents and children," she added. "Our program was already in place before the COA came here to validate us, but we did well on the  numerous inspections we already had, so we hold ourselves to a high standard always."

The staff at Patrick's SAP not only pioneered and developed their process from scratch, but they will be AFSPC's benchmark for other bases going though the COA process accreditation. For more information about Patrick's School Age Program call 321-494-4747.