Kids Under Cover is a not-for-profit organisation that works to prevent homelessness among young people by providing the foundations to strengthen their connection to family, community and education, and make a lasting difference in their lives.
A desire to accommodate as many vulnerable young people at risk of homelessness as possible drove this project. Previously Kids Under Cover's partners monitored its studios, but changes in the sector meant the capacity for partners to monitor studios diminished once their casework with young people and families ceased.
Responding to this challenge, Kids Under Cover took over direct responsibility for studio monitoring. Having piloted volunteer studio monitors, this approach needed to be assessed for scalability, or offer alternatives if required, so that efficient and effective studio monitoring processes could be established.
Aims & objectives
This project sought to maximise the life of Kids Under Cover's 450+ studios, and improve the charity's capacity to identify when studios are ready to be relocated from one family to another.
The project's key aims were:
- To provide regular monitoring of studios for upkeep and maintenance, and early alert for addressing maintenance issues to ensure studios remain in good condition, maintain secure accommodation for current residents and meet studios usable life targets (approx. 20 years).
- To improve the utilisation of its studios by knowing exactly when a studio is available for relocation.
In the previous two years Kids Under Cover has been piloting and refining studio monitoring utilising volunteer studio monitors across a sample of studios. Kids Under Cover wanted to know if expanding this model was the best approach.
Kids Under Cover initially sought to build its volunteer studio monitoring team. However, getting the right skill combinations through volunteers was difficult, availability was inconsistent and inspection targets were not being met. It became clear that a more professional approach to studio care was required.
The resulting engagement of an outsourced building maintenance company, with a rolling program of 200 studio inspections per annum, improved inspection capacity, enabling the maintenance of the studios in better condition, which will extend the life of studios considerably.
This is turn has enabled a critical program efficiency, with inspections now paired with minor maintenance while on site, reducing the number of visits needed. This enables the maintenance of up-to-date data regarding use of studios, and quicker identification of under-utilised studios which can then be reallocated to new clients on the studio wait list more efficiently.
As a result of learnings in the early stages of this project, a new outsourced Studio Care model was proposed and trialed. The contracted building maintenance company was engaged to undertake 200 studio inspections per annum. This outsourced approach was more effective and responsive, and has now been adopted for ongoing studio maintenance, as the outsourced model provides Kids Under Cover with a more cost-efficient inspection and maintenance service. As a direct result:
- 266 studios were monitored across Victoria in 2015–16
- 108 studios were identified for maintenance/repairs
- 6 studios were identified for relocation to provide accommodation for another young person at risk of homelessness.
Firstly, the project improved Kids Under Cover's information collection and record management on the condition and performance of its studio portfolio, and as a result, improved the organisation's capacity to plan.
Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, the project enhanced Kids Under Cover's understanding of the skill sets required and delivery mechanisms appropriate to the management and delivery of high quality studio care. As a direct result, Kids Under Cover is now better placed to support young people at risk and their carers and will be better able to track the performance of the studios as well as outcomes for clients.
Martin Murley, Philanthropic Partnerships, Kids Under Cover
This project provided an excellent learning opportunity for both Kids Under Cover and the Foundation. Half-way through the project the grantee recognised that engaging volunteers to perform the studio maintenance assessments would not be the most efficient way to achieve the targets as getting the right skills combination and availability proved challenging. The grantee quickly changed its plans and engaged a building maintenance company which allowed for increased capacity and quicker outputs and a more efficient process.
Importantly, the Foundation was kept abreast of changes throughout the process and we were pleased the grantee made the right choice in changing tack rather than continuing with an ineffective strategy. What we learnt was that it is important to trust that grantees know how to best deliver on projects and support them in their decisions.
Dr Alberto Furlan, Senior Program Manager