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PEPNet provides the most up-to-date information from research and the field about what works in youth programming; organizes that information into a set of high standards for programs to aim toward and offers user-friendly tools to help programs implement quality practice and develop strategies for continuous improvement. The wide variety of programs and policy makers already using PEPNet provides you with many examples of ways to make your work easier.




PEPNet offers a variety of tools and resources, allowing professionals to use the combination that works best for their situation and time constraints. You can use PEPNet for a few of minutes, a few hours, over several staff meetings, as part of an annual review, or over a multi-year continuous improvement effort.



If you are just starting out and have a couple of minutes to a couple of hours to invest, you might familiarize yourself with PEPNet by browsing this website and familiarizing yourself with the standards. If you see standards or improvement areas that interest you, search the Online Index to Quality Practices for sample practices and programs that best apply to your work. You can use these sample practices and the online assessment tools to spark discussion at a staff meeting or begin to make organizational improvements. Here are some ways that other organizations have started using PEPNet:


For Program Design

  • For programs just starting up or under development, the PEPNet Quality Standards can serve as blueprint for building a quality program from the ground up. Program developers can use the Standards to identify what practices to put in place in order to achieve positive results.

To Educate

  • Programs, funders, policy makers and others who support programs can use the Standards to help people become more knowledgeable about the field and about quality practice. Pick one or two appropriate standards and have a discussion with staff or board members or program partners or stakeholders.
  • Become familiar with the PEPNet Index to Quality Practices. Select a topic that interests the people you work with -- case management or sustainability or applied learning or community service. Suggest they search the Index to Quality Practices and identify strategies and practices they think could help you meet your goals or could be replicated in your area. Discuss these.
  • Provide copies of, or excerpts from, the PEPNet Guide to Quality Standards to youth service providers or grantees and encourage them to have discussions as above.
  • Send program or grantee staff to the PEPNet Institute (an annual two day conference). In the latter case, stipulate that the organization, agency or program conduct a PEPNet Self Assessment afterward.

To Improve Measurement Capacity

To Get a Snapshot of a Program in Relation to the Standards

  • An individual can complete the Quality Self Assessment tool in 30-40 minutes to get a quick sense of how a program matches the standards. This exercise will provide an initial snapshot of program strengths and practices that demonstrate the standards. In addition, it will give a preliminary idea of areas the program might want to consider enhancing. It also enables an individual to try out the assessment tools to determine whether the organization would bene.t from a more extensive assessment including more program staff and stakeholders (see To Assess Program Quality below).

To Inform Policy

  • Policy Makers can use PEPNet to ensure that legislation, regulations or other policies incorporate elements of proven practice for youth programs. Those who educate policy makers can use PEPNet to make the case for incorporating proven practices and for investment in quality youth programs.



Once you get started with PEPNet, you may decide to use it on a more ongoing basis. Here are some ways that professionals with more time to invest have used PEPNet to make long-term improvements:


To Facilitate Contracting and Oversight

  • Funders can incorporate the Quality Standards in their contracting cycles. Develop questions from the Standards' key indicators and include these in Requests for Proposals. You can then incorporate responses into contracts, monitor to ensure that performance standards are met and evaluate a program both qualitatively and quantitatively, holding contractors accountable for outcomes.

To Assess Program Quality

  • For program operators (including Workforce Investment entities), examining your program against the Quality Standards can give you valuable insight about program strengths areas for improvement. Use the Quality Self Assessment tool to conduct an organizational assessment. One or more individuals can fill out the assessment form online and all the responses are compiled into a cumulative report. This provides an easy way to find out how various staff and stakeholders (such as board, partners, youth and parents) rate the program in relation to the quality standards. The assessment can affirm program strengths and help to identify successes it can promote to attract attention and possibly even resources. It also can facilitate improvement (for the next step on improvement, see For Improvement Planning below).

To Assess Performance Results

  • Use the online Results Assessment tool to document and analyze program performance on a range of youth outcomes and receive a report that explains specifically what a program's performance goals and results indicate in relation to each other. For certain outcomes, the report will provide an explanation of a program's performance in comparison to programs nationally and to those in areas of similar population density. This benchmarking data is helpful when working with funders and stakeholders to show the relative success and value of a program.

For Improvement Planning

  • After a program completes either the Quality Self Assessment or the Results Assessment, you can immediately identify any areas needing improvement and begin to develop goals and a plan for improvement. The PEPNet Improvement Action Planning tool provides a template and guidance for defining improvement goals and creating a plan of action. Once you create a plan, you can return to where it is saved online at anytime to review or edit the plan, record actions taken and eventually mark each goal as completed.

To Identify Areas for and Provide Technical Support

  • Funders can use the results of PEPNet assessments completed by grantees to identify areas in which training or other technical assistance is needed. Policy makers may find PEPNet's Standards helpful in determining areas of particular focus or need. Others professionals may connect programs they support to PEPNet's tools.