What do Kids Under Cover do?
Kids Under Cover (KUC) is one of a range of not-for-profit organisations in Australia tackling the social issue of youth homelessness. The estimate for the homeless population nationally in 2011 was 105,237 according to the ABS, of whom 42% were under 25 years old. Sadly, this number is believed to be growing.
Focusing on reversing the trend, KUC focuses on prevention of youth homelessness rather than a cure.
Though there are many complex reasons why young people may find themselves homeless, KUC has identified that many Australian households do not contain enough living space for everyone in the home. Combined with other issues such as housing affordability, family conflict and mental health problems, this can force young people out of a home, believing this to be their last option available.
KUC aims to ease issues of overcrowding – and in turn help prevent youth homelessness – by supplying families with a relocatable studio that fits conveniently in the backyard of the property. Installed with one or two bedrooms and a bathroom, the studios enable young people to have a place they can call their own, effectively releasing the pressure gauge that can build up in many households.
In further preventing issues that can result in youth homelessness, KUC also looks at the big picture, with the scholarship program focussed on easing education and job training costs, as well as expanding kids’ horizons and engaging them with the broader community by opening doors to camps, excursions and other school social activities.
What KUC has achieved through research
For more than two years, DBM Consultants has partnered with KUC to help drive greater insights into their brand and further strengthen their work keeping families together. From this work, DBM Consultants are proudly recognised as one of KUC’s Partners.
With DBM’s help, KUC has improved how it engages with the Australian public in educating them on how they can help tackle youth homelessness.
With DBM on board, KUC was able to understand their position within the charity market, which segments of the public were most likely to donate, and how the priority target segments perceived KUC as a charity.
KUC has strong roots in Victoria, but DBM discovered that brand awareness was low nationally. Encouragingly, however, there was clear evidence that once people were aware of KUC, the charity would have a greater ability to turn that into ongoing support. This provided evidence for KUC to invest more into its brand and begin a program of direct fundraising to those targeted segments.
Last year, DBM Consultants helped design a new research program for KUC titled the Studio Evaluation Survey. The research set out to understand the outcomes young people and their families were experiencing as a result of the Studio program. Positively, in providing studios in the backyard, the families noticed improvements: family conflict drastically declined, overcrowding became less of an issue, and risk-taking behaviour – including the regularity of the young person being absent from the home without the carer’s knowledge – was minimised. Outside of the family dynamic, there were further welcome findings: young people applied themselves better at school and had more engaged attendance at groups and social activities.
In the same year, DBM Consultants also helped develop the Scholarship Evaluation Survey. The research showed that attendance at educational establishments rose for two-thirds of the recipients of the scholarship. Attendance at activities and excursions also increased, and financial stress was reduced for nearly all of the carers – all supporting KUC’s business and social objectives, and proving the positive impact of KUC on the lives of those involved.
Future research will be aimed at working with KUC and their partners to continue to improve the evaluation methodology and to deliver a new understanding of the program’s social return on investment. The value of this will be a clear demonstration to key funders such as the government and philanthropists, not only regarding the benefits that an investment in KUC has directly on the young people and their families, but also the extent to which it supports the government and the wider community.
Servicing KUC to help the social good
The KUC/DBM Consultants relationship is not a traditional supplier/client relationship. Accordingly, a more social model of service was required.
In DBM’s office, the team is comprised of individuals from all areas of the company – coders, researchers, DP analysts and field staff – to ensure the various research requirements of KUC can be met. The team volunteers their time in ways such as holding meetings in their lunch breaks, recruiting for focus groups in the evenings and writing reports on the weekend.
With many of the research solutions needing tailoring to minimise the budget required, the outcomes of brainstorming sessions between DBM and KUC staff have led to resourceful and out-of-the-box ideas, which have in turn allowed both supplier and client to balance low-cost operations against research solutions to real social problems.
2016 marks the start of the third year of a strong working relationship. DBM Consultants and Kids Under Cover are proud of how this partnership has used effective research programs to produce valuable social outcomes, and championed that prevention is the strongest solution in stopping the devastating cycle of homelessness for young people in Australia.
Tim Honcoop | Account Director | DBM Consultants
Aimee Suchard-Lowe | Strategic Consultant | Kids Under Cover