Starting a future that means something to you: outcomes from a longitudinal study of Education First Youth Foyers

Marion Coddou, Joseph Borlagdan and Shelley Mallett

The most comprehensive study of foyers shows that prioritising education for young people experiencing homelessness pays off.

At a glance

Education First Youth Foyers (EFYFs) are for young people aged 16–24 who want to study and are at risk of homelessness. They are funded by the Victorian Government in collaboration with Launch Housing and the Brotherhood of St. Laurence.

Education is central to the program. The foyers provide student accommodation together with support and coaching for young people who demonstrate that they are motivated to study.

Over a four-year period the authors surveyed and interviewed foyer students, and young people in other homelessness services. This report evaluates the EFYF model and its approach to discover how to best help young people either experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness.

They found that the model improves participants’ education, employment, housing, and health and wellbeing outcomes. Even better, most of these improvements are sustained a year after exit.

Dive deeper

Developed by the Brotherhood of St. Laurence and Hanover Welfare Services (now Launch Housing) with funding from the Victorian Government, EFYFs expand upon the original concept of youth foyers by prioritising education as key to a sustainable livelihood. They are better understood as a form of supported student accommodation rather than a crisis housing response.

The EFYF model is founded on a capabilities approach, which measures human development by people’s substantive freedoms, or real opportunities, to pursue lives of value to them. EFYFs seek to expand young people’s capabilities in two ways: by creating mainstream opportunities aligned with their goals and by developing the resources and skills needed to make the most of them. An Advantaged Thinking practice approach orients practitioners to working with young people in a way that recognises and invests in their aspirations and talents.

Three EFYFs – co-located with TAFEs in Glen Waverley and Broadmeadows in Melbourne and Shepparton in northern Victoria – each house 40 young people in studio-style accommodation with shared communal areas, supported by trained staff. Participants and staff commit to a reciprocal ‘deal’ where young people agree to participate in education and five other EFYF service offers, and in return, foyer staff agree to provide them with accommodation, opportunities and inclusion in a learning community for up to two years.

The outcomes study undertaken as part of the EFYF evaluation finds that the model substantively improves participants’ education, employment, housing, and health and wellbeing outcomes, and these improvements are largely sustained a year after exit.

Last updated on 4 March 2020



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