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School-age care professional development & technical assistance (SACC-pd/ta)

Through the Office of Child Development and Early Learning, Child Care and Development Fund school-age targets funds support regionally based school-age child care organizations and specialists to provide specialized professional development and technical assistance.  These agencies subcontract through the five Regional Key agencies. A primary emphasis of their services focuses on professional development and technical assistance to support SACC providers participating in Keystone STARS. SACC PD/TA employ research-based methods for improving program quality, and impacting positive outcomes for children.  Regional SACC-PD/TA also facilitate partnerships with community stakeholders to promote the development and expansion of out-of-school programming.

After-School Quality: The Process for Program Improvement - Applications Now Available


The Pennsylvania Key is implementing an exciting quality improvement program with your Regional Key called “After-School Quality: The Process of Program Improvement”.  Developed by the National Institute on Out-of-School Time, After-School Quality is designed to assist afterschool programs in implementing a continuous quality improvement process using a team approach.  The process will involve staff and other stakeholders in recognizing opportunities for program growth and navigating improvement plans.  “Team” is the cornerstone of After-School Quality.  Successful implementation will be led by a team, supported by a team, and celebrated by a team.  Technical assistance for your program throughout the process is available through your Regional Key.  A sample of the After-School Quality guide can be found at http://www.niost.org/pdf/ASQ/ASQ_Guide_Sample.pdf.



After-School Quality Information

After-School Quality Application

ASQ Readiness Checklist


pennsylvania school-age professional Credential

The Pennsylvania School-Age Professional Credential (SAPC) is administered by the Pennsylvania Key through the five Regional Keys.  It was developed to promote quality services for children and families by providing specific standards, professional development and evaluation of school-age practitioners.  Individuals interested in acquiring the SAPC must meet specific eligibility requirements, complete 120 hours of coursework addressing the thirteen (13) Functional Areas and complete a collection of information including a Portfolio, Resource File, Observations and Family Questionnaires.  The final step in the process is an on-site assessment review with a SAPC Assessor.  This credential is recognized in the Keystone STARS Continuous Quality Improvement System as meeting Level III on the Pennsylvania Early Learning Keys to Quality Career Lattice.

General information:

 Sapc candidate information and materials packet

Please mail all SAPC Credential applications to: Pennsylvania Key, 200 North 3rd Street, 3rd Flr, Harrisburg, PA 17101.

Materials in this packet include a description of the SAPC process, requirements, directions and forms for completing the Portfolio, Resource File, Observations and Family Surveys.  Also included is the application for the on-site assessment review. To order a paper copy of these materials call 800-284-6031 and request a SAC Credential Packet.  Please have your Early Learning Facility MPI # and shipping information when calling to request a copy of the materials.

renewal information and materials

For more information about coursework being offered in your region contact your Regional School-Age Project:

610-437-6000 x2328

Northwest 800-860-2281 x132 814-836-5859

717-854-3273 x564
800-864-4925 x564
610-617-4550 x4

For more information, contact Betsy O. Saatman at  betsaa@pakeys.org.


Professional Development

Professional development for school-age practitioners is primarily delivered through regionally based school-age specialists.  For information about professional development available in your area, visit the PD Registry or contact your Regional Key.

The sessions listed below are statewide modules that have been developed to support school-age practitioners meet specific professional development requirements in Keystone STARS.

Links to Learning Foundations (6 hrs.)

  • A six hour professional development event, developed by NIOST, to support practitioner understanding of the role of afterschool in providing complementary supports to insure developmental progress of children. Participants learn how to guide curriculum planning in afterschool and how to link activities to learning standards and quality standards.  The content also explores theme and project based learning and how they are beneficial to children in afterschool programs.
  • Links to Learning Foundations may be delivered as individual sessions in which case the following content must be completed: 1) Introduction & Theoretical Framework, 2) Curriculum Planning, 3) Linking Activities to Benchmarks and Learning Standards, and 4) Theme and Project based Learning.
  • Keystone STARS-Content will meet Learning Standards Core Series requirement for school-age practitioners 

Links to Learning: Coordinating and Communicating with Schools

  • This session explores ways to increase linkages between school and afterschool, focusing on specific strategies to build relationships, to increase communication and coordination between the program and the school, and work on curriculum together.
  • Keystone STARS-Content supports Partnerships with Family & Community  

Links to Learning: Engaging Families

  • This session will focus on the importance of family engagement in afterschool with regard to children’s learning and development. Participants will explore practical ways to engage families and develop a plan for better family engagement.
  • Keystone STARS-Content Supports Partnerships with Family & Community 

Using Portfolios to Bring Out the Best in School-Age Children (6 hrs.)

  • A six hour professional development event to support the successful implementation of Portfolios to support children's development and enhance program quality.  The session may be delivered as two, three hour sessions titled: Part 1 of 2 - Supporting Children's Development & Enhancing Program Quality; Part 2 of 2  - Preparing for Success Implementation of Portfolios
  • Participants will learn about how Portfolios in school-age programs can be used as a tool: to document children's growth and development; for program planning and implementation; for helping children reflect on their experiences and set goals; for sharing important information about children's experiences with parents; for professional development.  Information will be shared about using developmental checklists as a framework for portfolio development; analyzing completed checklist and related documentation; and comparing and linking checklists to the Pennsylvania Child Service Report and the Key Areas of the PA Learning Standards.
  • Keystone STARS-Content will support Observation/Curriculum/Assessment at STAR 3 & 4 for school-age practitioners.

School-Age New Staff Orientation 

Fifteen hours of professional development designed to help individuals become familiar with their new program, the children in their care, and the field of School-Age Care. Some content included keeping children safe, guiding behavior, activities, environment, professionalism, partnerships. Individuals completing this professional development meet the following: 

  • STAR 2 Staff Qualifications requirement for new school-age staff
  • Career Lattice: Level I

Self-Learning (online)

Available through the Better Kid Care On Demand online learning system.  Click here to access guide. 



Resource on School Connections

OST Map Out-of-school time (OST) programs in Pennsylvania serve K-12 and are available before- and afterschool, including weekends and summer. PSAYDN, with the generous support from foundations, EECapacity and Harrisburg University, has led the development of the state's only online, searchable database that identifies all OST (afterschool) programs in Pennsylvania. The map is the culmination of this effort. Using existing state lists of licensed school-age childcare providers (OCDEL) and statewide surveys, a listing of nearly 5,000 OST programs are available to date. STEM-rich institutions are being identified and also added. 

A Guide to Afterschool and Summer Child Nutrition Programs This guide focuses on child nutrition programs that fall outside of regular school hours. This includes afterschool programs, summer programs, weekends or extended mid-year breaks from school.

Keystone STARS Optional Tools & Worksheets

The following documents can be found by selecting Keystone STARS, Forms & Tools on the left-hand menu.

Optional Tools:

  • School-Age: Activity Schedule-Week-at-a-Glance by Key Learning Area
  • School-Age: Aligning Curriculum with the First Grade Standards
  • School-Age: Aligning Curriculum with the Second Grade Standards
  • School-Age: Curriculim Statement Template
  • School-Age: Lesson Plan Template

Keys to Quality Afterschool: Environment, Relationships and Experiences

This best practices guide is designed to provide a framework for continuous quality improvement. This toolkit consists of ten chapters. The first chapter introduces the Generations approach to understanding school-age care and identifies how Environments, Relationships, and Experiences (ERE) influence children’s growth and development. Each subsequent chapter highlights a specific content area related to “best practices” and engages the reader in transfer of knowledge and reflection through stories, examples, inquiries, charts, and strategies for implementation. Each chapter can be used as a stand-alone resource for professional development, staff meetings, and independent research or study by practitioners. Look for guidelines, concrete activity ideas, and unique strategies for supporting children’s development and best practices in program design.

Keys to Quality Afterschool: Spotlighting Best Practice, Tools and Resources in Out-of-School Time

Safety and Supervision Before- and After-School, June 2012

Building Resiliency, May 2011

Learning Standards

Research & Reports

  • Creating Quality School-Age Child Care Space. Local Initiatives Support Corporation's (LISC) Community Investment Collaborative for Kids (CICK) project recently released a new report. This resource, written by a team of architects, outlines best practices in the design and improvement of after-school environments for children in kindergarten through eighth grade. The report addresses the importance of the physical environment in shaping the interactions and experiences of children in after-school child care, while also recognizing that after-school care is often located in space-constrained areas that can be borrowed, shared or rented. 

  • Making Summer Count: How Summer Programs Can Boost Children’s Learning RAND Research Brief Full Report. In June, July and August, many students forget some of what they learned over the previous school year. But “summer slide” takes its biggest toll on low-income students, contributing substantially to the achievement gap between them and better-off youngsters. This major RAND study also finds evidence that summer programs can help, identifies obstacles to providing them, analyzes costs, and offers recommendations.
  • America After 3PM Special Report on Summerthese valuable programs each summer. The demand for programs is very high, especially among those who need them most.
  • Cost of Quality: Out-of-School Time Programs Research Brief Full Report  Based on a detailed examination of 111 high-quality after-school and summer programs in six cities, this report estimates costs for strong programming. It attributes wide cost differences to factors such as how many hours programs operate and the ages of children served. An on-line cost calculator can help users figure out the costs of various programs.
  • Cost of Quality: Out-of-School Time Cost Calculator This online calculator lets users determine the costs of a variety of options for high-quality out-of-school time (OST) programs. In addition to the cost calculator, this website includes short case studies, funding strategies, and how quality considerations factor into program costs.
  • Cost Worksheet for Out-of-School Time and Community School Initiatives Created by the Finance Project, this tool is designed to help out-of-school time practitioners and community schools develop initiatives and cost estimates.
  • The Impact of After-School Programs That Promote Personal and Social Skills - A report found that youth programs were most successful at improving youth outcomes when their activities were sequences, active, focused and explicit (SAFE). When compared to programs that did not have these characteristics, SAFE programs improved youths feelings of self-confidence, positive feelings toward school, grades and achievement test scores. See CASEL website for more information.
  • Massachusetts Afterschool Research Report (MARS) - The MARS Study identified key quality components of afterschool programs and explored the relationship between program quality components, staff attributes and positive youth outcomes.
  • Measuring Youth Program Quality - Guide to Assessment Tools - This report compares the purpose, history, structure, methodology, content and technical properties of nine different program observation tools.
  • The Quality Imperative: A State Guide to Achieving the Promise of Extended Learning Opportunities - This new report highlights the positive impact high-quality Extended Learning Opportunities (ELO) have on student success and outlines steps that state leaders can take to ensure ELO effectiveness.
  • The Quality of School-Age Child Care in Afterschool Settings -This research brief provides an overview of the feature of high-quality afterschool settings, including an examination of key research on links between program quality and developmental outcomes. 
  • School-Age Success Story: Pennsylvania’s After-School Quality Project (Office of Child Care Technical Assistance Network): This document describes how Pennsylvania provides school-age supports through their Quality Rating and Improvement System, Keystone STARS. Pennsylvania’s After-School Quality project is highlighted.


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