In its 2002 review of rigorously evaluated, community-based programs, the National Research Council provided an evidence base for effective youth development programs . Currently, these eight features of effective youth development settings serve as quality standards for youth programs.
- Physical and Psychological Safety: positive, respectful interactions among peers and staff, conflict resolution, and physically sound facilities.
- Appropriate Structure: clear, consistent, age-appropriate expectations for behavior; rules and boundaries.
- Supportive Relationships: good communication, warmth, and genuine connection.
- Opportunities to Belong: an inclusive, engaging environment for all; cultural competence.
- Positive Social Norms: positive, pro-social values and expectations.
- Support for Efficacy and Mattering: genuine opportunities for youth to make a difference; youth-centered practices that challenge, empower, and focus on improving competencies.
- Opportunities for Skill Building: developing competencies for life, further education, work, and citizenship.
- Integration of Family, School, and Community Efforts: collaboration to offer the rich developmental context that helps young people succeed. Competencies grow through opportunities to practice skills in a variety of situations.