The Youth Coalition of the ACT undertook an evaluation of the Safe and Connected Youth (S&CY) program. This evaluation was split into two phases which assessed the processes and outcomes of the program.
The process evaluation assessed the extent to which the S&CY program has been implemented as intended: have all the components been implemented and if not, what are the reasons or barriers to this and how might they be overcome?
The outcomes evaluation assessed whether or not the S&CY program has made a positive difference to clients: are S&CY clients better off as a result of the implementation of the program?
The evaluation indicates that the S&CY program has successfully implemented and delivered its intended processes and addressed the proposed outcomes. The primary aim of the program is to reduce the risk of homelessness for young people and the evaluation demonstrates that it does this and more. Through the program, young people and their families are supported to have improved outcomes across a range of domains such as housing, education, and mental health that positively effects the lives of young people and their families.
The evaluation found that the biggest challenges to the success of the program were uncertainties around continued and ongoing funding and the lack of program resources and capacity to service young people and families who need a safe place to stay longer-term. The funding used for respite accommodation cannot cover extended periods of temporary accommodation which means that some families who would benefit from the program fall outside the selection criteria because they may require longer and more intensive respite accommodation.
Dedicated funding of S&CY is a necessary component to deliver an ongoing coordinated service response for children young people aged 8 to 15 years who are at risk of homelessness, or engagement with the child protection or youth justice systems.
In the 2020-21 ACT Budget the ACT Government allocated $1 million to ‘Ruby’s House’. This will contribute to the refurbishment of a residential facility that will support young people under the age of 16 who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness.