Quality Standards for Youth Centers

This manual offers standards for best-practice implementation of youth centers. The standards were developed as part of 360 ° – The National Program for Children and Youth at Risk, in collaboration with JDC-Ashalim and the Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute. The program is conducted by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Services together with the Ministries of Education, Immigrant Absorption, Health, and Public Security. In 2015, there were 134 functioning youth centers serving 46% of the youth participating in programs under 360 ° – The National Program. The decision of many local authorities to operate youth centers on the one hand, and the diverse professional conceptions of the partner ministries on the other, gave rise to the idea that joint work and the pooled expertise of each of the partners could potentially produce higher-quality centers with more suitable responses in various areas.

The development process focused on finding points of agreement relating to guiding principles and standards of quality. Guiding principles include clear, consistent expectations concerning the underlying work of every center. From these principles, standards for best-practice implementation were derived, which left a broad arena for the distinctive expression of actions and abilities in each center.

The process consisted of five steps:

1. Determining areas for the definition of standards and establishing a work team for every area.

2. Gathering information from the field by means of focus groups and field trips to a large variety of centers.

3. Learning about similar processes of establishing standards around the world and common standards from the professional literature, and integrating the data with data from the field.

4. Presenting relevant information from the literature and the field to each work team and formulating recommended standards for that team’s specific area.

5. Discussing and approving the standards at diverse 360 ° – The National Program forums.

The manual consists of three sections:

1.  An introduction and the principles for developing standards: an explanation of what a youth center is, what the role of the standards are, and a description of the inter-ministerial development process; a literature review of similar processes of developing standards for the implementation of youth centers around the world.

2.  Standards for implementation of the centers in various areas: the activities program, parents, scholastics, the emotional/therapeutic area, enrichment, health promotion, and cooperation with services in the local authority.

3.  Plan for implementing the standards: a review of the literature and a description of the planned implementation process.

Upon the completion of the development process and the publication of the manual, the management and supervisory echelons of the partner ministries are embarking on broad implementation of the criteria in the youth centers.