Private Organization Accreditation

Catholic Charities alleviates human suffering and improves the quality of life of 100,000 people annually, regardless of religious background. A staff of 600 provides support and services related to housing, food, mental health, children's services, addiction treatment, and domestic violence services.


Children's Foundation of Mid America

James W. Thurman, President/CEO

Children’s Foundation of Mid America has been accredited through COA since 1983. The process of accreditation ensures that we meet or exceed the highest standards in the industry.
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Children and youth who participate in Out-of-School Time programs gain the personal, social, emotional, and educational assets needed to support healthy development, increase well-being, and facilitate a successful transition through childhood and adolescence, and into adulthood.

PA-OST 19: Supervision

The agency ensures the safety of children and youth by providing sufficient and appropriate supervision at all times.

Interpretation: These standards also apply when children and youth are away from the program site, for example, when they are on a field trip.

Rating Indicators
Full Implementation, Outstanding Performance
A rating of (1) indicates that the agency's practices fully meet the standard and reflect a high level of capacity.  
  • All elements or requirements outlined in the standard are evident in practice, with rare or no exceptions; exceptions do not impact service quality or agency performance. 
Substantial Implementation, Good Performance
A rating of (2) indicates that an agency's infrastructure and practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement. 
  • The majority of the standards requirements have been met and the basic framework required by the standard has been implemented.  
  • Minor inconsistencies and not yet fully developed practices are noted; however, these do not significantly impact service quality or agency performance.  
Partial Implementation, Concerning Performance
A rating of (3) indicates that the agency's observed infrastructure and/or practices require significant improvement.  
  • The agency has not implemented the basic framework of the standard but instead has in place only part of this framework.   
  • Omissions or exceptions to the practices outlined in the standard occur regularly, or practices are implemented in a cursory or haphazard manner. 
  • Service quality or agency functioning may be compromised.   
  • Capacity is at a basic level.
Unsatisfactory Implementation or Performance
A rating of (4) indicates that implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all.  
  • The agency’s observed service delivery infrastructure and practices are weak or non-existent; or show signs of neglect, stagnation, or deterioration.  
Please see Rating Guidance for additional rating examples. 

Table of Evidence

Self-Study Evidence On-Site Evidence On-Site Activities
    • A description of how the agency ensures adequate and appropriate supervision at all times, and in all activities
    • Program ratio
    • Procedures or plan for providing adequate supervision, including for coverage during breaks, absences, emergencies, etc. (PA-OST 19.02, 19.03, 19.05)
    • Staff coverage schedule (for previous quarter)
    • Procedures for ensuring safety during arrivals and dismissals (PA-OST 19.04)
    • Policies and/or procedures governing one-on-one interactions between personnel and children/youth (PA-OST 19.06)
    • Interview:
      1. Program Administrator
      2. Site Director
      3. Program Personnel
      4. Children, youth, and families
    • Observe supervision at different times of day and during different activities
    • Observe arrivals and dismissals
    • Review files of children and youth

  • FP
    PA-OST 19.01

    The ratio of personnel to children and youth is based on the ages and abilities of children and youth, and is:

    1. between 1:10 and 1:15 when all children and youth are age six and older; and
    2. between 1:8 and 1:12 when the program includes children under age six.

    Interpretation: This standard is intended to address the ratio of personnel to children and youth in a program as a whole, rather than for a particular room or group of children and youth.  In other words, a program with 60 participants age six and over would need at least four staff members to meet the specified ratio.  However, the agency would not need to ensure that there was at least one adult present in every group of 15 children and youth.  For example, while one adult might be supervising a group of 19 youth doing line dancing, another adult might be helping a group of 11 youth with their homework.  However, group ratios should not typically exceed 1:25, for any type of activity.  
    To be included in the program ratio, staff must be present with, and directly supervising, children and youth.  It is also important to note that the ratio must be maintained at all times – if certain staff will periodically leave the program (e.g., to pick up more children), they should not be counted in the ratio.  Non-teaching staff, such as front desk staff, custodians, food service personnel, and bus drivers, should also not be counted in the ratio.  Volunteers should not be included in this ratio unless they meet personnel qualifications and have a regular, ongoing role at the program.
    It may be appropriate for there to be more personnel, and higher ratios of personnel to children and youth, when personnel work with children and youth with special needs, or with groups that consist entirely of kindergarteners.  Please note that when children under age six are mixed in with older children and youth, the more stringent ratio applies (as per element (b) of the standard).

    Research Note: The NAA Standards for Quality School-Age Care, published by the National AfterSchool Association, state that ratios should be between 1:10 and 1:15 for groups of children age six and older, and between 1:8 and 1:12 for groups that include children under age six.

  • FP
    PA-OST 19.02

    Personnel plan for and provide different levels of supervision according to:

    1. the type, complexity, and level of risk or difficulty of activities; and
    2. the ages, abilities, developmental levels, and needs of children and youth.

    Interpretation: Personnel should closely supervise any activities that are potentially risky.  Accordingly, ratios of personnel to children and youth should typically be higher, and group sizes smaller, when projects involve potentially dangerous activities or equipment (e.g., cooking, carpentry, leatherworking, swimming, gymnastics, biking, sledding, or skating).  In some cases it may be necessary for personnel who supervise potentially risky activities to receive specialized training, as determined by industry safety standards.  Extra adults should also be present on field trips that are difficult to supervise (e.g., trips to amusement parks, beaches, ski areas, or campgrounds).  It is also wise for ratios to be higher, and group sizes smaller, when children and youth are learning a new or difficult skill.
    While groups sizes may be larger for activities such as sports, art, reading, or board games, groups should not typically exceed 30 children/youth, except for activities such as outdoor play, performances, or assemblies (as long as adequate supervision is provided).

  • FP
    PA-OST 19.03

    The agency implements a supervision system that:

    1. enables personnel to know where children and youth are, and what they are doing, at all times;
    2. allows personnel to see and/or hear all the children and youth they are supervising;
    3. includes special provisions for monitoring children and youth who have permission to be out of sight;
    4. protects younger children when they move from place to place or use the restroom;
    5. enables children and youth to access help at all times; and
    6. makes communication possible between different areas within the program site.

    Interpretation:  Regarding element (b), personnel should position themselves in a way that allows them to watch as many children and youth as possible, and should move around so they can see and/or hear all the children and youth they are supervising. Agencies can also ensure facilities are arranged to support supervision by using low barriers between designated spaces to promote visibility, and installing convex mirrors to supplement line-of-sight supervision.
    COA recognizes that systems for supervision, and the level of supervision provided, may vary based on the developmental stages and needs of the children and youth served.  For example, agencies serving younger children might monitor which children are in the restroom, and how long they have been there, by having children put a clothespin by their name and set an egg timer when they leave the room.  Conversely, the level of supervision should also respect older youths’ need for independence.  Accordingly, an agency serving older youth might develop a policy allowing more independence that is worked out with youth, their families, and personnel.

  • FP
    PA-OST 19.04

    The agency ensures safety during arrivals and dismissals by:

    1. working with parents or other appropriate family members to obtain instructions for arrival and dismissal;
    2. establishing a system for monitoring when children and youth arrive, when they leave, and with whom they leave;
    3. developing a system to keep unauthorized people from taking children and youth;
    4. establishing protocols for families or schools to contact the agency if children and youth will be arriving late, leaving early, or absent; and
    5. developing procedures that address how to respond if a child or youth is not picked up in a timely manner at dismissal.

    Interpretation:  Personnel should know when children and youth are supposed to arrive and how children and youth are allowed to depart (including who is allowed to pick up each child or youth), as well as what should be done if an unauthorized person attempts to pick up a child or youth.  When questions arise, personnel should contact the school or a responsible adult listed on the emergency form.  agencies should ideally keep written records showing who picked up children and youth.  

    NA The agency only serves older youth who can come and go independently.

  • FP
    PA-OST 19.05

    There is a plan to provide adequate staff coverage:

    1. when personnel are absent (i.e. due to illness, personal reasons, or professional development);
    2. when personnel leave the room to take a break or retrieve supplies; and
    3. when emergencies or special circumstances arise during program time.

    Interpretation:  Emergencies or special circumstances include situations where a child becomes ill, requires separation from the group, needs special supervision or care, or has an emergency, as well as situations where a staff member becomes ill or has an emergency.  If one staff member is sufficient to meet the required ratios specified in PA-OST 19.01, a second adult should be on hand to assist in case an emergency or special circumstance arises.  The agency can support implementation of this standard by keeping an up-to-date list of adults who are qualified to serve as substitutes.

  • FP
    PA-OST 19.06

    One-on-one interactions between personnel and children and youth are in public areas visible by at least one other adult.

    Interpretation: It is acceptable for a staff member to be alone with a child or youth during brief periods of transition (e.g., while escorting a child from the cafeteria to the computer lab), as long as their whereabouts are communicated to other personnel.

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