Impact & community benefit

Making a Difference –

Since the Kids Under Cover Studio Program officially began in 1993, we have been analysing our services and their results through interviews and questionnaires with young people and their families. In this way, we have developed a solid understanding of the changes our clients have experienced through their involvement in our work.

In the 2015-16 financial year we worked with the professional services firm Ernst & Young (EY) to further refine our methods of analysis and reporting on our findings.

The main change this year has been the use of an updated ‘Theory of Change’ model to assess how much of the changes in our clients’ lives can be attributed to the Kids Under Cover programs.

The Theory of Change model is widely used in the philanthropy, not–for–profit and government sectors to promote social change. It defines the long-term goals and then maps backward to identify the necessary conditions for these goals. It is used to measure and value the things that matter most to the stakeholders in the Kids Under Cover studio and scholarship programs.

The main stakeholders in these programs are young people, their carers, and our government and community sector partners. The process is underpinned by continual research into the results of the studio and scholarship programs. This evaluation process has two components:

  • Annual research with clients to understand the effects of the Kids Under Cover programs. Are they providing benefits for young people and their carers?
  • Every 3-5 years, an economic cost/benefit analysis is undertaken to understand the Social Return on Investment (SROI) of the Kids Under Cover programs. This includes a social benefits analysis for Government.

An SROI analysis lets us measure and account for the broader concept of value in what we do. With this approach, it is possible to forecast the effects of our activities rather than simply measuring them (such as ‘the number of studios built’).

Key results of our 2016 evaluation research

Over two weeks in August 2016, EY defined questionnaires and engaged social research consultants to conduct phone interviews with young people and their families.

A sample was selected from those involved in the Kids Under Cover studio and/or scholarship programs over the past 10 years. A range of demographic characteristics were represented, including males and females of various ages from 14 to 25 years, people who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, young people with a disability, people from various regions of Australia, and people in a variety of living and family situations (e.g. in the care of their parents or other family members, or in foster care).

The results show three key components to understanding how much a Kids Under Cover intervention can transform the lives of young people and their carers.

  1. Baseline data represented the average position on a five-point scale (never, sometimes, often, most of the time, always) before the Kids Under Cover intervention.
  2. Follow-up data represented the average position on the scale at the time of the interview.
  3. Attribution data represented the contribution to the change of the Kids Under Cover intervention. Young people and their carers were asked how much the changes in their lives were attributable to the Kids Under Cover programs (none, some, a lot, all).

The 2016 results show that young people’s lives have been substantially improved in a range of areas, as a result of the Kids Under Cover studio and scholarship programs. In short, the biggest improvements were:

  • Decreased likelihood of homelessness
  • Improved emotional well-being and peace of mind
  • Improved independence.

For the carers of young people, the results have also been excellent. The positive results for them have included:

  • Better interpersonal relationships
  • Improved emotional well-being and peace of mind
  • Improved social inclusion
  • Better financial health

You can read more in our 2016 Annual Report

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The cost of homelessness

Most studies indicate homelessness is more expensive to society than the costs of solving the issue. Between shelters, emergency rooms and jails, it is estimated to cost society between $30,000 – $500,000 each year for a homeless person.

The impact of homelessness on society, government and individuals includes the cost of legal services, substance abuse, housing, family violence and mental health services, as well as social costs that stem from social isolation, family breakdown and disengagement from education and employment.

This is why it’s so important to continue to invest in prevention and early intervention initiatives, such as Kids Under Cover’s studio and scholarship programs. We couple this with ongoing support to help young people maintain or re-engage with education and employment. Evidence shows targeted early intervention strategies are crucial to preventing young people from falling into homelessness. It’s this belief that has driven Kids Under Cover since 1989.