Operationalising the Model

Staffing

The Education First Youth Foyer Model is contingent on a mix of paid staff (including those who work in the Foyer itself and/or the TAFE institute) and volunteers (including mentors). To deliver on the Open Talent approach, the multidisciplinary staff and volunteer team will have a range of talents, skills, training and life experiences. EFY Foyer staff will be entrepreneurial with the capacity to source opportunities, networks and resources for their students. Most importantly, they will hold strong beliefs in the abilities and capacity of young people to change their circumstances and build sustainable lives.

For a 40-bed facility staffed 24/7, the following staffing structure is recommended:

  • Foyer Manager (day time, e.g., between 9am–5pm)
  • Team Leader (day time, e.g., a mix of shifts covering 7am–11pm)
  • 5 Youth Development Workers (day time, e.g., a mix of shifts covering 7am–11pm)
  • 2 Youth Development Workers (night shift, e.g., 11pm–7am, following a stand-up rather than a sleep-over model).

The level of staffing will vary depending on the time of day. Most EFY Foyer students will be undertaking education activities during the day and so will be engaging in group activities, meeting their Youth Development Workers (YDWs) to review their individualised Learning Plan and engaging in living skills activities in the late afternoon or early evening. In addition to Foyer staff, there will also be TAFE staff working with the EFY Foyer.

There are periods when the staffing model may need to be subsidised with extra resources, namely:

  • during the Pre-Foyer assessment phase
  • during school/college/university holidays
  • to back-fill roles to facilitate full staff training.

Activities of EFY Foyer staff

Some of the activities staff will engage in are:

  • the selection of appropriate students
  • the assessment of student skills and challenges
  • the development, implementation and regular review of Learning Plans in partnership with the students
  • the development of individual learning timetables to support students’ engagement in education and training
  • undertaking activities with students to build confidence and rapport as well as living skills (e.g., group cooking activities, movie nights)
  • building and maintaining partnerships with relevant service providers
  • advocating for, and supporting, students to access appropriate assistance
  • building and maintaining relationships with the local community and community groups
  • supporting students to access employment opportunities, including brokering placements where appropriate
  • assisting students to access accommodation after Foyer, including potentially brokering specific accommodation arrangements.

NB: All EFY Foyer Staff Position Descriptions are in the Education First Youth Foyer Policies and Procedures Toolkit.

Attributes and values of the EFY Foyer staff

Foyer Manager

The Manager will be a person who inspires, and who is innovative, entrepreneurial and policy minded. S/he can lead a team, advocate, and engage with elected officials, the Management Committee, the media, external services, community and business and can further develop the Open Talent approach.

Either the Foyer Manager or the Team Leader must have experience of working in congregate accommodation settings, preferably with young people or adults.

Team Leader

The Team Leader will be a person who can mentor, provide leadership to staff and students, liaise with various stakeholders, embed the OT approach through practice reflection, and oversee the development of tools and resources including training for students in OT/advocacy skills, sourcing appropriate training for staff, and advocating at a broader level for structural change. This position is key to embedding the Open Talent approach.

Staff supervision and building the team are keys areas of practice under this role. The ability to coach both young people and staff is vital.

Youth Development Workers

These positions will attract a diverse staff from Community Development, Educational, Employment, Arts and Culture, Recreational, Advocacy and Housing/Welfare backgrounds.

Workers will each be responsible for 10 students, with whom they will meet on a weekly basis to develop and monitor their individualised Learning Plans. Each of these positions could have a specific brief (e.g., education or employment, or health and wellbeing), so that all areas of the Model – education, employment, health and wellbeing, social connections, civic participation, and housing and living skills – are covered.

TAFE staff (including Developing Independence Teacher)

The EFY Foyer’s key partner organisations and the TAFE commit to promoting and developing the EFY Foyer Model to support sustainable economic and social participation of young people who are at risk of or experiencing homelessness. Collectively, these organisations work in a collaborative partnership to embed the EFY Foyer within TAFE programs, facilities and resources.

The TAFE will nominate staff who will be the key contact points for the EFY Foyer. These positions may vary in accordance with the specific TAFE resources and staffing model, but at least one position – the Developing Independence (or DI) Teacher – will be responsible for delivering the Cert. I in DI.

Other potential staffing roles

The integrity of the Model to deliver on all of the 6 Service Offers will rely on EFY Foyers seeking funding from varied sources, and recruiting additional staff who can deliver on the Offers in conjunction with the core Foyer staff. This, along with the recruitment and management of volunteers and mentors, is a vital focus for EFY Foyers. General position descriptions for all staffing roles can be found online as part of the current policies and procedures relating to the Framework.

...the multidisciplinary staff and volunteer team will have a range of talents, skills, training and life experiences.

Governance

A cornerstone of the EFY Foyer Model are the strategic, multi-level governance partnerships, supported by a range of formal and informal agreements. These partnerships and agreements are also critical to realising the broader ambitions of the Victorian EFY Foyer program, which are to achieve wider policy program and practice reform for young people who experience social exclusion.

The EFY Foyer’s top-down, bottom-up approach to governance is informed by mounting research and policy evidence that partnering and collaboration between government and community sector organisations leads to more holistic, streamlined and innovative initiatives. As Shergold notes, multi-level collaboration, a core principle of the Model, ‘offers many opportunities to deliver better outcomes for people’.49 These include the development of:

  • evidence-based policy informed by all parties involved in community services
  • more integrated service delivery with reduced duplication
  • increased innovation and sharing of best practice
  • increased effectiveness, efficiency and accountability based on shared outcomes.

Partnering is most appropriate when partners acting together can create more value than when they act alone, and it is possible to employ either contracting or collaboration as a mode of coordination.50

In EFY Foyers, top-down governance:

  • ensures integrated responses across departments – namely, DHS, DET and Department of Health – to enable more effective outcomes for young people
  • maximises capacity to influence policy and program reform for young people
  • achieves efficient and effective delivery of services and education program
  • creates a mandate for regional and area-based services and programs
  • enables ‘draw down’ of diverse funding sources supporting the viability of the program.

Middle-level governance:

  • facilitates the establishment and resourcing of steering groups
  • enables partnerships to build on the 6 Service Offers.

Bottom-up governance:

  • ensures the needs and aspirations of students are achieved
  • enables the experiences of young people to inform policy and practice
  • develops young people’s capacity to speak out on issues that are of concern to them.

Governance of Victoria’s Education First Youth Foyers

A high-level inter-agency committee oversees all Foyers, each of which is founded on a partnership between a TAFE institute and at least two community organisations with complementary areas of expertise in housing, social policy and/or education. The following figure shows the governance structure of the Victorian EFY Foyers with explanatory notes about the role and structure of its various managing bodies.

1. Employment and Youth Support Initiatives Development Inter-Agency Steering Committee

Had representation from relevant government departments, the Brotherhood of St Laurence, Hanover, the TAFE provider and employer groups, and was responsible for overseeing the development, implementation and evaluation of the three Education First Youth Foyers in Victoria. Established by the Victorian Minister for Housing, the Committee provided advice on, and guided the implementation of, the Government’s Foyer commitment.

For more details on the history, role and membership of this Committee, see ‘Political context’.

2. Foyer Management Committee

Governs each of the EFY Foyers, and sits within the context of a broader governance structure. The Foyer Management Committee is responsible for the oversight of all aspects including the implementation, enhancement and review of the Model and Practice Approach employed by EFY Foyers.

The Committee is comprised of senior representatives or delegates from each of the partner organisations and TAFEs, and nominated members report to the Inter-Agency Steering Committee. It is responsible for preparing reports that are required by Government, with the funds holder of the funding contract with Government then responsible for the delivery of these reports.

The Foyer Manager is appointed by, and reports to, the Committee, but is employed by the agency that is signatory to the funding and service agreement (e.g., Launch Housing), and reports to his/her Line Manager within that organisation on operational matters. The Line Manager, in consultation with the Chair of the Foyer Management Committee, also undertakes the Foyer Manager’s performance review.

3. Foyer Advisory Committee

Advises the Foyer Management Committee about relevant regional activities, services, networks and programs that present risks or opportunities to the advancement of the students’ objectives. Both Committees will look for opportunities to develop policy and services that support an integrated service system.

4. Service Development Committee

Has oversight to ensure that the operational systems, tools and policies and procedures are developed in line with the service approach in the Education First Youth Foyer Practice Framework. This committee comprises representatives from the service development and research arms of both Brotherhood of St Laurence and Launch Housing.

5. Foyer Staff Meetings

Staff hold monthly meetings to discuss operational and practice matters, as well as group supervision/practice reflection. The Team Leader and Manager will attend both staff meetings as appropriate.

6. Foyer Student Council

Each EFY Foyer has its own representative council for the students to have their voices heard and to initiate projects, advocacy campaigns or other initiatives. The Student Council has the opportunity to feed its proposals to the Foyer Manager and Team Leader through processes developed by each EFY Foyer. Other committees may also be developed by the student body to reflect their interests, e.g., students at Holmesglen Foyer have initiated a multicultural committee and a social justice group.

A cornerstone of the EFY Foyer Model is the strategic, multi-level governance partnerships, supported by a range of formal and informal agreements...

Residency and participation

EFY Foyers use residency agreements that either conform to the Rooming House Provisions of the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA), or Student Accommodation Leases that are regulated by Consumer Affairs. Each EFY Foyer will determine which leasing arrangement applies to their students depending on contextual factors. The Rooming House residency agreements are briefly described in this Framework, while those pertaining to the Student Accommodation Leases (and related guidelines) can be sourced from the partner agencies.

In line with the objectives of the EFY Foyer, students are able to stay for a maximum of two years. This length of tenure allows them to engage, over a sustained period of time, with the opportunities provided by the EFY Foyer program. The stability that this affords means students can engage with education, employment, volunteering and other opportunities. Leases will be given for specific time periods and residencies reviewed in line with expectations outlined in the Deal. During their stay, students are expected to work on any barriers they face to participating in education, training, employment and achieving stable housing.

Although generally aligned with standard student models, EFY Foyer accommodation differs in several key ways:

  • student tenure is time-limited (two years)
  • 24/7 staffing is provided to coach and support students
  • residency is managed by EFY Foyer staff
  • student tenure is conditional.

Tenure in EFY Foyers is contingent on:

  • students meeting conditions of a formal lease
  • signing up to and fulfilling their side of the Deal by engaging in education and training and meeting weekly with their YDW to further the learning goals identified in their Learning Plan.

Clear processes for managing non-compliance with the Deal are outlined in EFY Foyer policy and residency agreements.

Residency and participation review

When students sign a lease – under the Rooming House Provisions in the RTA – they will immediately receive a 120-day notice. This short-term lease is not given to be punitive. Rather it provides an opportunity for Residency and Participation Reviews that can monitor and hold students accountable for their ongoing participation in the EFY Foyer.

A Residency and Participation Review is intended to act as a lever to:

  • motivate students to reach their goals and aspirations
  • mark and acknowledge student achievements
  • reach a consensus with, rather than about, students
  • empower students to have their voices heard
  • provide a transformative process, whereby achievable goals are set for students to reach the benchmark for continued residency
  • educate students about their responsibilities as tenants
  • provide a space, in cases when residencies must be ended, to discuss the reasons for this and to agree on a transitions pathway and plan with the student’s involvement.

Approach to residency breaches

In EFY Foyers there are two broad types (A and B) of way in which students can breach their residency. These two types span four distinct levels of breaches that increase in severity from Levels 1 to 4. Type A includes the less serious Level 1 breaches, and Type B includes more serious Levels 2 to 4 breaches.

  • Type A (Level 1) breaches have internal consequences and can generally lead to a warning. An example of a Level 1 breach is leaving the communal room in a mess.
  • Type B (Levels 2–4) are breaches that are recognised under the Rooming House Provisions of the RTA. An example of a Level 4 (serious) breach is violent behaviour.

When there is any type of breach, EFY Foyer staff will work with the student to ensure the issue is addressed and that positive strategies to reduce the chances of it happening again are agreed upon.

EFY Foyer staff will be entrepreneurial with the capacity to source opportunities, networks and resources for their students. Most importantly, they will hold strong beliefs in the abilities and capacity of young people to change their circumstances and build sustainable lives.

Related Material - Operationalising the model part 1

Related Material - Operationalising the model part 2

Related Material - Operationalising the model part 3

Download the Footnotes from EFYF practice framework (PDF, 90 KB)

Artwork title: Abstract
Artist: Saphire Thomas

Orange is for passion… the abstract was to put a bit of feeling and emotion into it