Performance-based Standards (PbS)

Performance-based Standards (PbS) is a program for juvenile justice agencies, facilities and residential care providers to identify, monitor and improve conditions and rehabilitation services provided to youth using national standards and outcome measures. PbS was launched in 1995 by the US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) to improve the deplorable conditions reported by the 1994 Conditions of Confinement Study. The PbS Learning Institute incorporated in 2004 to continue PbS and its commitment to treating all youths in custody as one of our own when federal funding ended.  PbS is a field-supported and self-sustaining continuous learning and improvement program available to all residential programs serving youths across the country.

The PbS system of continuous learning and improvement provides:

  • A set of goals and standards that individual facilities, programs and agencies should strive to meet;
  • A blueprint of best practices for operating residential programs to achieve the standards;
  • Tools to help participants achieve best-practice standards through regular self-assessment and self-improvement;
  • Reports that show participants’ performance over time and in comparison to others; and
  • Promotion and sharing of effective practices and support among sites.

PbS’ goal is to integrate best and research-based practices into daily operations to create safe and healthy facilities and programs that effectively improve the lives of delinquent and at-risk youths, families and communities and prevent future crime. PbS provides support to participants through a variety of training and technical assistance, online resources and the PbS HelpDesk. Additionally, participants work with a PbS coach, a field expert who provides guidance and support to successfully implement PbS.

Benefits of participation include:

  • The ability to measure and track key indicators of facility performance;
  • Comparison with similar participants across the country;
  • Definition of measurable goals and development of strategies to achieve them;
  • Access resources and assistance to make improvements; and
  • Accountability and transparency through high-quality standardized national data.

PbS asks participants to collect information from records, reports and interviews of youths, staff and families. The data undergoes a rigorous quality assurance process and is reported back to the participants as outcome measures that show change over time and individual participants’ performance compared to the average of the field of all participants. Working with PbS coaches, participants use the data to identify areas that need improvement and develop a detailed improvement plan. The plan is monitored in future data collections, adjusted as needed, until the desired improvement is achieved and sustained.