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.


Barry Gourley

Volunteer Roles: Endorser; Peer Reviewer

It is an honor to be a COA volunteer. I’ve had a great opportunity to work with fabulous COA volunteers, I’ve grown professionally in the COA accreditation process and I’ve met some wonderful people across this nation who are working hard to help and support children and families.
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Youth who participate in Youth Development Services 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.

YD 11: Specialized Sports and Fitness Programming

Youth participate in specialized sports and fitness activities that help them to develop fitness and athletic abilities.

Interpretation: While some programs will have a specialized sports and fitness focus, it is important to note that the sports and fitness programming described here should be provided within the context of a youth development program that provides the variety of other supports and opportunities described throughout the section as a whole.

Note: Organizations that do not have a specialized sports or fitness focus will be covered by YD 10.02 instead of this standard.

NA Specialized sports or fitness programming is not the primary focus of the program.

Rating Indicators
All elements or requirements outlined in the standard are evident in practice, as indicated by full implementation of the practices outlined in the Practice standards.
Practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice standards; e.g.,
  • Minor inconsistencies and not yet fully developed practices are noted, however, these do not significantly impact service quality; or
  • Procedures need strengthening; or
  • With few exceptions procedures are understood by staff and are being used; or
  • For the most part, established timeframes are met; or
  • Proper documentation is the norm and any issues with individual staff members are being addressed through performance evaluations (HR 6.02) and training (TS 2.03); or
  • Active client participation occurs to a considerable extent.
Practice requires significant improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice standards. Service quality or program functioning may be compromised; e.g.,
  • Procedures and/or case record documentation need significant strengthening; or
  • Procedures are not well-understood or used appropriately; or
  • Timeframes are often missed; or
  • A number of client records are missing important information  or
  • Client participation is inconsistent; or
  • One of the Fundamental Practice Standards received a rating of 3 or 4.
Implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all, as noted in the ratings for the Practice standards; e.g.,
  • No written procedures, or procedures are clearly inadequate or not being used; or
  • Documentation is routinely incomplete and/or missing; or  
  • Two or more Fundamental Practice Standards received a rating of 3 or 4.

Table of Evidence

Self-Study Evidence On-Site Evidence On-Site Activities
    • Description of specialized sports and fitness activities
    • Daily schedules for past month
    • Program curricula and/or lesson plans (for previous quarter)
    • Program planning materials
    • Qualifications of personnel providing specialized sports and fitness activities (e.g., in personnel records)
    • Staff training materials addressing specialized sports and fitness programming
    • Documentation that staff training has been provided (e.g., in training files or personnel records)
    • Interview:
      1. Program Administrator
      2. Site Director
      3. Program Personnel
      4. Youth and families
    • Review files of youth
    • Observe facility
    • Observe specialized sports and fitness activities 

  • YD 11.01

    The organization offers specialized activities that are designed to promote learning and skill acquisition related to specific sports and/or physical fitness.

  • FP
    YD 11.02

    The organization obtains relevant medical information from youth and families prior to participation in specialized sports or fitness activities.

    Interpretation: As noted in YD 3.03, the organization should collect all relevant medical information and consent forms, and maintain them in youths’ files. If a youth becomes injured, the organization may wish to require written authorization from a doctor before allowing the youth to resume participation in sports or fitness activities.

  • FP
    YD 11.03

    Youth are engaged in high-quality sports or fitness activities that:

    1. are planned and organized based on the ages and abilities of youth;
    2. include instruction on rules and/or strategies relevant to the sports or fitness activity, including the use of equipment, as appropriate;
    3. are focused on helping participants achieve clear and specific goals;
    4. build upon one another to facilitate a step-by-step approach to learning and practice, when possible; 
    5. promote positive sportsmanship; and
    6. maximize play or activity time for all youth, regardless of ability.

    Interpretation: Specialized sports and fitness activities should also meet the more general criteria for programming addressed in YD 6. For example, there should be enough appropriate materials and equipment to facilitate activity implementation, as referenced in YD 6.06. The organization should also ensure that it provides adequate supervision based on the type and risk level of the activity in question, as well as the ages and abilities of participating youth, as addressed in YD 15.03.

    Research Note: Studies of youth who participated on sports teams found that youths’ perception of their ability is more important than their actual ability. As such, feedback should be focused on individual performance and progress towards achieving personal goals rather than on “winning” or being the best.

  • FP
    YD 11.04

    The organization maintains an automated external defibrillator (AED) in a well-marked, accessible location proximate to the areas where sports and fitness activities are held.

    Interpretation: AEDs should be regularly inspected and maintained according to manufacturer’s specifications.

  • FP
    YD 11.05

    Personnel are qualified to facilitate and oversee sports and fitness activities, and receive training that addresses: 

    1. best practices and techniques for the relevant sports/fitness areas, as appropriate for youth;
    2. instructional skills and strategies;
    3. safety and injury prevention; and
    4. how to use an AED.

    Interpretation: Personnel may be qualified through a combination of education, training, experience, and/or certification. However, all personnel providing specialized sports or fitness activities should be trained on the topics specified in this standard.

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