New Program Accredits Eight Youth Employment Agencies

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Eight youth employment agencies recently received accreditation through the National Youth Employment Coalition Promising and Effective Practices Network (NYEC PEPNet) accreditation pilot.

To become accredited, the organizations had to complete a comprehensive self-assessment with staff members and have a review team conduct a site visit, said Mala Thakur, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based National Youth Employment Coalition.

“It’s more than a piece of paper,” Thakur said of the accreditation. Based on what the agencies went through to get the accreditation, she said, “it shows commitment that leadership of these organizations make to continuous improvement.”

Of the 10 organizations that applied for accreditation during the pilot program, four were accredited. The accreditation is valid for three years.

They are:

•Arizona Call-A-Teen Youth Resources Inc. , Phoenix.

•Jobs for Youth/Chicago.

•Our Piece of the Pie, Hartford, Conn.

•The Work Group’s New Jersey Youth Corps Program, Pennsauken.

Four other programs received provisional NYEC PEPNet accreditation during the pilot, They are:

•EducationWorks, Philadelphia.

•Hire Up – a program of Larkin Street Youth Services, San Francisco.

•Los Angeles Conservation Corps.

•Simon Youth Foundation/Pacers Academy High School, Indianapolis.

The pilot program ran over the past 16 months, with support from the William Penn Foundation and from registration fees from pilot sites. The purpose was to identify successful practices and to foster a culture of continuous improvement. According to a statement by the NYEC, the pilot was also meant to establish a national system of quality standards for youth organizations.

The accredited organizations were deemed to have a “high level of quality” in organizational management, program design, delivery, youth development and workforce development, and a focus on youth outcomes, according to the NYEC.

Provisionally accredited organizations were deemed to have a demonstrated commitment to continuous improvement and quality practice.

“We hope PEPNet accreditation will come to represent a seal of excellence in youth programming,” Thakur said. “Now, more than ever, with a slowing economy, a lack of well-trained, qualified workers, and an alarmingly low high school completion rate, youth programs and youth-serving systems need to ensure that our nation’s young people are adequately prepared to meet ever-changing labor market demands and successfully transition into adulthood.”