The program started out small, but after just two years of growth expanded into its current facility. It includes a computer lab that is being updated, an indoor basketball court and a study area where kids can do homework.
During the school year, the focus is primarily academics. Upon arrival after school, children meet with their group leader and knock out every piece of homework that is on their agenda. Then, the fun begins.
Curriculums ranging from sports to engineering to cooking are prepared months in advance so that when the kids aren't doing homework, they are still learning life skills.
Through their solid relationship with the Tarpon Springs Police Department, the children are offered achievement awards like tickets to a Tampa Bay Buccaneers or Orlando Magic game in exchange for academic improvement.
Officer Ed Hayden of the police department is an onsite supervisor at the facility. He says that the children's pride in their improvements is more than enough incentive to reward them.
"I'm not looking for straight A's," said Hayden. "If a child comes in and says, 'look officer Hayden, I didn't get any F's' — woohoo! They get to go to a game."
An educated staff of young people keeps the program fresh. Some of them grew up in the Cops 'n Kids facility and know first hand the importance of having mentors and role models.
One thing that sets Cops 'n Kids apart from other childcare providers is a lack of set transportation for the kids. In other words, they choose to come and spend their time at the facility.
"Our program is very unique," said Cops 'n Kids executive director Robbin Sotelo Redd. "There's not anyone requiring them to be here by picking them up or dropping them off, they walk here on their own."
On average, Sotelo Redd says, there is a core group of about 60 children who attend the after-school program on a daily basis. During the summer, there are about 85. There are only a few holidays out of the year that the Cops 'n Kids facility is not open.
Funded by the Juvenile Welfare Board, each available spot within the program is a scholarship opportunity. To qualify for the scholarship, a child must be eligible for public housing, section eight or free and reduced lunches.
Recently, the program was licensed by the Pinellas County License Board as an official daycare center. A big step for the program, being licensed holds them at a higher bar of accountability. Specific regulations must be upheld and reports from the health department passed.
For Sotelo Redd, the satisfaction of her job comes from brightening each day for every young person she comes into contact with at Cops 'n Kids.
"I just like to see the kids smile," said Sotelo Redd.