The city received a $1,500 grant to help accredit its youth after-school programs with the National School-Age Care Alliance.
The NSACA is a nationwide organization representing public, private and community-based after-school programs. Only 13 programs in Colorado are NSACA accredited.
City Youth Program Coordinator Jennifer Travis said accreditation would testify to the quality of the city's programs and provide the city an added marketing tool and a better chance of receiving more grant funding for its programs. It also will give parents peace of mind, Travis said.
"We are pretty close to their accreditation standards," Travis said. "This will bring out what kind of quality programs we have in the community."
The after-school program is part of the city's Parks, Open Spaces and Recreational Services department.
The NSACA has developed a set of standards based on quality care that leads to stimulating, safe and supportive out-of-school programs for children 5 to 14 years old.
Accreditation is a nine-month process, Travis said. NSACA looks at 36 standards in six areas: human relations; indoor environment; outdoor environment; activities; safety, health and nutrition; and administration.
The city will spend hours working on reports explaining how its programs work and will then have NSACA conduct an on-site evaluation of the programs.
"I am very confident that we will be able to get the accreditation," Travis said.
The Afterschool Action, School Days Off, Kids Night Out and the summer camp programs are the focus of the accreditation effort.
Four of the NSACA-accredited facilities in Colorado are in Colorado Springs, and one is in Fort Carson; the remaining facilities are in the Denver metropolitan area. If the city's program is accredited, it will be the first one in Northwest Colorado.
The grant comes for the state's Child Care Improvement Fund, one of the tax check-off items on Colorado's tax forms. The money generated from that fund is spread throughout the state. Last year, the city received about $1,300 to improve its after-school reading and homework area.
About $1,000 of the money this year will go toward the accreditation application. The remainder will be used for outdoor educational items and to help fund a focus group comprised of parents, community members and children to look at the school age programs.
The city also is giving $200 to help with the accreditation.
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