To realize the potential of any youth program, evidence suggests that positive outcomes for youth are only seen when the programs youth attend are high quality (Borden, Schlomer, & Wiggs, 2011). The Youth Program Environmental Rating Scale (YPERS) is intended to help programs assess the quality of their program and identify areas of strength or where additional attention is warranted to maximize the effect the program may have on youth.

The YPERS is grounded in the research focused on the eight essential elements of high quality youth programs 1) physical and psychological safety; 2) supportive relationships; 3) opportunities to belong; 4) positive social norms; 5) appropriate structure; 6) support for efficacy and mattering; 7) opportunities for skill building; and 8) integration of family, school, and community efforts (Eccles & Gootman, 2002).