Niro Kandasamy, Senior Research Officer at the Foyer Foundation and teacher in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne explains.
The Foyer Foundation Impact Framework aims to capture outcomes for Foyer-connected young people across Australia. It is underpinned by the Foyer Foundation’s efforts to support the development of quality Youth Foyers across Australia.
The key to the Foyer model lies in the provision of stable accommodation for up to two years in a supported, congregate living environment. For young people who are unable to rely on family support in this critical developmental stage, Youth Foyers provide the time, personalised attention, mentoring, coaching and access to opportunities that are needed to lead fulfilling, independent and productive lives.
At the same time, a Youth Foyer is much more than a supported accommodation facility, or welfare program. Using an ‘Advantaged Thinking’ approach, Youth Foyers seek to tap into the goals and aspirations of young people and nurture their talents while building skills for life.
There are different types of Youth Foyer models, such as Foyer Port Adelaide that is developed through a partnership between the Department of Human Services and St John’s Youth Services. However, there is no standardised impact framework that can be used by all the accredited Youth Foyers across Australia.
The development of the Foyer Foundation Impact Framework began in August 2019. In capturing the impacts of Youth Foyers, the Framework will be used to build Foyer capacity, inform service development, demonstrate outcomes for funders and measure meaningful change in the lives of young people who have experienced living in Youth Foyers.
Currently, the measures for the Impact Framework are being developed through a co-design approach through regular meetings of an Advisory Group comprised of representatives from the accredited Youth Foyers: Foyer Oxford, Southern Youth and Family Services, Foyer Port Adelaide, Logan Youth Foyer Support Service, Education First Youth Foyers (Shepparton, Kangan, Holmesglen) and Foyer Warrnambool.
In addition to Advisory Group meetings, I am currently undertaking site visits to each of the Foyers to gain a better understanding of how they operate and to understand the context in which they support the young people. There is currently very little understanding of how community factors shape the outcomes of the young people.
So far, I have researcher visited four accredited Youth Foyers and I am finding important insights about the confluence of community engagement strategies, systemic factors and young people’s goals. The impact framework together with a report on the insights from the site visits will be completed in July 2020.