In the early 1970’s, a few child accounting people from around the state including the iconic Kitty McGuigan from the Philadelphia area and Tom Knight from the Pittsburgh area came together to create a small information sharing group. The issues may have been different in those days, but the need to share information about best practices in the profession were still very important. Professional Development, therefore, was the driving force behind the creation of the organization. Kitty and her group decided to open up the opportunity to others to share in this professional network and called the organization A/CAPA – the Attendance / Child Accounting Professional Association. In the early days of the organization, dues were $5 and meetings were half-day in length and held primarily in the Honors Suite of the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE). There were approximately one-hundred members in the mid 1980s and meetings saw attendance in the double digits.
By the late 1980s, issues surrounding child accounting became more complex coupled with advances in technology and PDE reporting requirements. With this, attendance at meetings and membership in A/CAPA began to grow. When the group grew too large for the Honors Suite at PDE to accommodate, the organization was forced to look for alternative meeting facilities. At the same time, A/CAPA expanded the professional development opportunities by creating an annual spring conference that ran for two days. In addition to the annual conference, A/CAPA held fall and winter one-day meetings.
After two years of hosting meetings in the Harrisburg / Hershey area, the A/CAPA Executive Committee moved the one day meetings and annual conference to the Hershey Conference and Resorts properties. It wasn’t long after that when the organization began sponsoring multiple day events including fall meetings in Hershey and Pittsburgh. Additionally, A/CAPA discontinued the Winter meetings in favor of expanding the spring conference to a three-day conference format. Today the membership has grown to nearly 700 and the annual conference is among one of the largest held for education support services in Pennsylvania supporting public school districts, Intermediate Units, and charter schools.
Members benefit from attending the annual fall conference and the spring meetings by attending a growing variety of comprehensive breakout sessions dealing with specific child accounting issues and reporting requirements; general sessions that detail new and emerging issues and requirements; legal updates; audit preparation; and PDE initiatives surrounding data collection and reporting. Members further benefit from information exchanges with colleagues, interacting with product vendors that support the child accounting data collection function, and by helping to shape the future of the organization by participating in the association’s business meetings.
Membership is open to school district, charter school, and intermediate unit personnel having an interest in Pennsylvania child accounting, data collection, and reporting. Current members include child accounting specialist, administrative assistants, special education supervisors and directors; technology coordinators and directors; school business administrators; transportation directors and supervisors; food service supervisors and directors; assistant superintendents; superintendents; and business / professional associate members.