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 PEPNet Quality Standards: Category 2 - Programmatic Approach

Category 1 - Management for Quality | Category 3 - Youth Development Competencies | Category 4 - Focus on Youth Results 


  1. Target Youth
  2. Environment and Climate
  3. Instructional Approach
  4. Collaboration 
  5. Individual Planning and Guidance
  6. Wrap-Around Support
  7. Youth Engagement
  8. Employer Engagement
  9. Transition Support

Category 2 - Programmatic Approach

Programmatic Approach addresses standards for program design: how the program looks, how the young person experiences the program, how the pieces work together.

The first category of standards dealt with the program's mission and goals and various structures or systems to help manage operations. Now a program needs to consider its design: Who will it serve? What are their needs? How does it address or plan to address these needs?

Whether setting up a new program, assessing an existing program, or making funding decisions, it is important to think about the target participants -- about how they learn, about what motivates them; about how the program wants to provide services and about agencies and organizations it might be beneficial to have as partners.

For more details on the Standards, see the PEPNet Guide to Quality Standards for Youth Programs.

2.1 Target Youth

  • 2.1.1 The program targets, recruits and enrolls young people who would benefit from its services and activities.
  • 2.1.2 The program develops referral linkages with other organizations and agencies connected to its target youth.
  • 2.1.3 The program ensures frequency and length of participation are sufficient for targeted youth to achieve performance goals.
  • 2.1.4 The program designs activities appropriate to the ages and developmental stages of the participants.

2.2 Environment and Climate

  • 2.2.1 The program implements policies and procedures to ensure the physical and emotional safety of participating youth.
  • 2.2.2 The program maintains an environment in which youth feel comfortable, cared for, valued and challenged to reach their potential.
  • 2.2.3 The program sets and promotes standards of behavior that include clear, consistent and fair rules, limits, expectations and consequences for misconduct.
  • 2.2.4 The program enforces standards of behavior consistently.
  • 2.2.5 The physical space, programs and services allow youth with and without disabilities to participate and benefit fully.
  • 2.2.6 The program identifies and counteracts any instances of racism and discrimination of any type that may occur within its own organization.

2.3 Instructional Approach

  • 2.3.1 The program engages youth as active participants in the learning process throughout program activities.
  • 2.3.2 The program incorporates content that is personally relevant to participating youth.
  • 2.3.3 The program provides opportunities for youth to engage in self assessment and reflection on their learning.
  • 2.3.4 The program is responsive to diverse styles and rates of learning.
  • 2.3.5 The program provides youth with opportunities to explore, experiment and test their own ideas.
  • 2.3.6 The program uses assessment tools to identify individual learning needs and measure progress.

2.4 Collaboration

  • 2.4.1 The program develops partnerships that expand offerings and fulfill program and youth needs.
  • 2.4.2 The program continually seeks potential resources and partners.

2.5 Individual Planning and Guidance

  • 2.5.1 The program conducts a comprehensive, objective assessment of factors relevant to academic and career goal-setting and service planning for each young person.
  • 2.5.2 Staff and youth use assessment data to set appropriate academic and career goals and create an individual written plan for program participation.
  • 2.5.3 The program has a system by which an adult or team of adults monitors and manages each youth's individual plan and progress.
  • 2.5.4 Youth and staff periodically reflect on progress and revise the plan as needed.
  • 2.5.5 The program works with other systems with which its participants are involved, e.g., schools, foster care, juvenile justice, to streamline and coordinate service planning and delivery and avoid duplication.

2.6 Wrap-Around Support

  • 2.6.1 The program helps youth identify their personal assets and needs and develop a strategy for support services and asset building.
  • 2.6.2 The program connects youth to appropriate support services, activities and opportunities at the program and/or within the community.

2.7 Youth Engagement

  • 2.7.1 The program provides progressive opportunities for all participants to make meaningful contributions to program development, decision making and continuous improvement activities.
  • 2.7.2 The program provides training and support to staff, volunteers and/or other adults in how to develop youth-adult partnerships and support youth engagement.
  • 2.7.3 The program provides youth with training and support, including logistical resources, to enable and enhance their engagement.
  • 2.7.4 The program regularly solicits and uses input from youth to tailor program offerings to youth interests and needs.

2.8 Employer Engagement

  • 2.8.1 The program involves employers to ensure its workforce development activities are relevant to current employment opportunities and future employer needs in the region.
  • 2.8.2 The program works with employers to connect youth to work experiences, work-based learning and employment opportunities.
  • 2.8.3 The program provides on-going assistance and support to employers who provide work experience and employment for youth participants.

2.9 Transition Support

  • 2.9.1 The program ensures that all youth have a plan for how they will continue to pursue and achieve academic and career goals.
  • 2.9.2 The program coordinates with appropriate agencies as a youth prepares for transition.
  • 2.9.3 The program design includes appropriate transition activities and supports for at least one year.
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