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 PEPNet Quality Standards: Category 3 - Youth Development Competencies

Category 1 - Management for Quality | Category 2 - Programmatic Approach | Category 4 - Focus on Youth Results


  1. Working
  2. Academic Learning
  3. Connecting
  4. Leading
  5. Thriving

Category 3 - Youth Development Competencies

Youth Development Competencies addresses standards for program offerings: what youth need to know and be able to do to successfully transition to work and adulthood and how to help them gain those skills, knowledge and abilities.

A program's management structure and systems, its program goals and its key design features each play a role in shaping what is offered youth participating in the program. The primary factor in deciding what types of activities and services to offer is whether what those young people are doing in a program actually gives them what they need. Do the activities and services a program offers support what youth need to know and be able to do to in order to become responsible adults and workers?

Programs may find it is easier to answer this question if they refrain from thinking in terms of "activities," which basically are a series of things someone does or has happen to them. Think instead about the skills, knowledge and abilities -- the competencies -- young people need to gain to become responsible individuals. This is where the principles of youth development come into play.

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

3.1 Working

  • 3.1.1 The program provides opportunities for youth to developcompetencies appropriate to securing employment, including resume writing, interviewing and job search skills.
  • 3.1.2 The program provides opportunities for youth to develop competencies appropriate to maintaining employment, such as communication, dealing with supervision, and interpersonal and lifelong learning skills.
  • 3.1.3 The program provides opportunities for youth to assess career interests and explore a variety of career options.
  • 3.1.4 The program provides opportunities for youth to participate in work-based learning activities, such as job shadowing, internships, occupational training, work experience and community service.
  • 3.1.5 The program helps youth set personal academic and career goals and create realistic plans to achieve them.
  • 3.1.6 The program ensures that youth develop competencies that are relevant to local/regional labor market demands, post-secondary requirements and/or industry standards.
  • 3.1.7 The program ensures that youth can communicate the competencies they have gained to employers and others.
  • 3.1.8 The program provides youth with access to employment opportunities and placement assistance.

3.2 Academic Learning

  • 3.2.1 The program uses accepted assessment tools to identify academic skill levels.
  • 3.2.2 The program provides opportunities for youth to gain basic literacy and numeracy skills, including English as a second language.
  • 3.2.3 The program designs activities that reinforce the connection between academic learning and work.
  • 3.2.4 The program provides youth with opportunities to progress towards a recognized credential, such as the GED, high school diploma, or post-secondary education or training credential.
  • 3.2.5 The program helps youth learn how to access post-secondary education or advanced training opportunities.

3.3 Connecting

  • 3.3.1 The program develops and nurtures sustained relationships between youth and caring, knowledgeable adults.
  • 3.3.2 The program provides youth with opportunities to forge positive peer-to-peer and peer group relationships.
  • 3.3.3 The program ensures that activities, materials, tools and organizational structures promote acceptance and awareness of diverse groups, races and cultures.
  • 3.3.4 The program provides youth with opportunities to work cooperatively with others.
  • 3.3.5 The program works to increase youth's support from family and/or other responsible adults for meeting goals.
  • 3.3.6 The program ensures that youth learn how to successfully navigate the community.

3.4 Leading

  • 3.4.1 The program provides all youth participants with opportunities to contribute to the program and to the community.
  • 3.4.2 The program provides structured opportunities for all participants to lead in the program and community.
  • 3.4.3 The program provides youth with training/preparation for leadership opportunities.
  • 3.4.4 The program implements a strategy, which may include community service and service learning, to build civic engagement.
  • 3.4.5 The program helps youth develop a sense of purpose, e.g., belief in their own ability and desire to contribute to something greater than themselves.
  • 3.4.6 The program sets high expectations for youth and holds youth accountable.

3.5 Thriving

  • 3.5.1 The program takes steps to prevent or divert young people's engagement in risky behaviors.
  • 3.5.2 The program supports youth in accessing physical and mental health-related services.
  • 3.5.3 The program supports youth in developing independent living skills, including .nancial and computer literacy.
  • 3.5.4 The program uses multiple strategies to promote healthy decision-making and teaches youth how to address societal, peer and familial pressures.

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