Report: Evaluation of the Premier’s Youth Initiative for the New South Wales Department of Communities and Justice

CEI and partners recently completed a multi-year evaluation of the Premier’s Youth Initiative (PYI), a novel program developed by the NSW Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ), designed to reduce homelessness among young people leaving out-of-home care (OOHC). The service model provides a combination of personal advice, education and employment mentoring, transitional accommodation support, and long-term accommodation. 

The final report of the evaluation, which was recently published, found that PYI shows promise as an intervention to delay homelessness for young people after age 18 for a specific cohort of highly vulnerable young people — those who had a history of homelessness whist they were in OOHC. The evaluation used a Hybrid Type I design to explore whether PYI was delivered as intended and if it reduced homelessness outcomes amongst young people who received it.

The team considered the lived experience of service users and their experiences whilst in the program in exploring the timing, type, frequency method of delivery and availability of services provided. Additionally the team's analysis considered client and implementation outcomes from the perspective of young people accessing services. This approach allowed for a consideration of how different aspects of PYI reflected the changing needs of young people as they transitioned from OOHC to adult living.

Perspectives of service providers and the funder informed an exploration of implementation barriers and enablers at the program and system level. The evaluation identified significant impediments to the implementation of PYI as providers and young people struggled to deal with entrenched system challenges. Providers shared that it took up to nineteen months to implement PYI before they judged the model was being delivered well and meeting needs.

The team used a robust quasi-experimental methodology (propensity score matching and time-to-event analysis) to assess housing outcomes for young people from linked regularly collected administrative data and to estimate the cost of delivering the service.

Young people who leave or transition out of OOHC arrangements commonly experience poorer outcomes across a range of indicators relative to the general population. That PYI improved outcomes for a subset of this population is very promising, however a follow up evaluation that incorporates a longer time horizon is required to test this further.

CEI partnered with Professor Aron Shlonsky (Head of Department) and his team at the Monash University Department of Social Work and Dr Alex Gyani (Principal Advisor & Head of Research, APAC) at the Behavioural Insights Team. The project was led by CEI’s evaluation practice lead, Dr Vanessa Rose and Senior Advisor – Quantitative Methods, David Taylor.

The final report can be read here.

Suggested citation:

Taylor D, Roberts J, Rose V, Gyani A, Harrigan S & Shlonsky A. 2020. Evaluation of the Premier’s Youth Initiative: Final Report, Centre for Evidence and Implementation, Sydney.