Private Organization Accreditation

Sweetser, a Maine non-profit agency operating since 1828, provides comprehensive mental and behavioral health and substance abuse treatment services. Statewide, it serves around 15,000 consumers a year, including children, adults, and families in outpatient, office-based, and residential settings.


Audrey Coleman, RN-MSN

Volunteer Roles: Military Reviewer; Peer Reviewer; Team Leader

My first experience with COA was in 1999 with what was a NC Area Program. I started as a peer reviewer in 2005, doing two to four site visits a year. I am also a team leader and have recently been approved to be a military reviewer.
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Children and youth who participate in After School and Youth Development programs gain the personal, social, emotional, and educational assets needed to support healthy development, increase well-being, and facilitate a successful transition through childhood, adolescence, and into adulthood.

CYD-AYD 1: Outreach and Program Accessibility

The program collaborates with community partners and resources to reach local children and youth and minimize barriers to their participation.

Table of Evidence

Self-Study Evidence On-Site Evidence On-Site Activities
    • Provide a description of outreach efforts
    • Outreach strategies and informational materials
    • Programming information made available to children, youth, and families
    • Attendance policies (CYD-AYD 1.02)
    • Program hours of operation
    • Fee schedule
    • Interview:
      1. Program Administrator
      2. Site Director
      3. Program Personnel
      4. Children, youth, and families
    • Observe facility
    • Observe program activities

  • CYD-AYD 1.01

    The program conducts ongoing outreach to inform and educate the public about:

    1. program goals and the activities offered; and
    2. the benefits of the program, and the impact on children, youth, and families served.

  • CYD-AYD 1.02

    The program encourages a high level of participation by:

    1. offering engaging activities appropriate to the interests, needs, ages, abilities, and developmental levels of children and youth;
    2. instituting flexible attendance policies, when appropriate;
    3. scheduling programming during hours when children and youth can fully participate in activities and utilize facilities;
    4. designing a program environment that appeals to children and youth of all ages for which services are provided;
    5. charging reasonable fees and accessing sources of subsidy that can help make the program affordable for families;
    6. collaborating with community partners to resolve transportation barriers and ensure that children and youth have safe, affordable access to the program, when possible and appropriate;
    7. accommodating the needs of different language speakers, to the extent possible; and
    8. meeting an identified need in the community. 

    Interpretation: Regarding element (b), it is important that attendance policies reflect the fact that older youth have increasing competition for their time including work, extra-curricular activities, and more responsibility at home.  As such, their dependence on the program and/or involvement should be expected to fluctuate over time.  Regarding element (f), transportation barriers might be addressed through partnerships with local transportation authorities, school bus systems, and pedestrian and bicycle advocacy groups or chaperones.  

    Research Note: Studies of youth development programs have shown that the barrier to participation that youth most frequently cite is a lack of engaging, age-appropriate activities.

    Research Note: Research has shown a significant drop-off in attendance rates among youth ages 15 and older in youth development programs.  Surveys of teenage participants have found that offering a dedicated space where teens can socialize away from younger participants is critical to attracting teenagers to the program and keeping them involved over time.  Teens should be involved in planning their space to ensure it is reflective of their unique needs and interests.  Due to older youths’ increased need for autonomy, the ability to reach the facility through self-transportation (e.g., biking, skateboarding, walking) is also very important to teenagers.  Youth who reported traveling to the facility using some form of self-transportation had higher rates of attendance.

  • CYD-AYD 1.03

    Programming information is publicized in areas where children, youth, and families are likely to access it.

    Interpretation: Programming information should include a list of activities and the dates and times they are offered.  Areas where children, youth, and families are likely to access information may include local schools, youth hang-outs, housing developments, youth-serving organizations, police departments, homeless shelters, newspapers, websites, parks and public recreational facilities, religious institutions, and community calendars. The program may ask partners to post flyers or make referrals to the program or involve participants in reaching out to their peers.  This is particularly important when reaching out to older youth, who have more control over how they spend their time, and at-risk youth, who may not have come in contact with the program otherwise.

    Research Note: Given young people’s increasing reliance on technology to stay connected to one another, the internet may be an effective method for recruiting, engaging, and retaining youth.

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