Launch Housing has a longstanding history of taking a partnership approach to service delivery.
To deliver the Education Pathways Program, Launch Housing has partnered with:
- St Kilda Primary School (for the STEP component of the EPP)
- Department of Education School Focused Youth Services (a member of the STEP committee – a group to monitor the outcomes of the STEP component of the EPP)
- FareShare (to provide some food for the Healthy Eating Program, and our families)
- Foodbank (to provide some food for the Healthy Eating Program, and our families)
- St Kilda Mums (to provide material aid such as clothes, shoes, toys and books to children)
- Melbourne Homeless Collective (to provide children with brand new backpacks filled with school supplies tailored for each age group, as well as school hats, clothing and shoes, and other special event packages)
- Five philanthropic foundation partners who have enabled the delivery of this program since it's inception.
A Short Term Enrollment Program (STEP) Committee was established in February 2017 to ensure effective collaboration and sharing of knowledge occurs within the STEP component of the Education Pathways Program in order to maximise the outcomes of the students. Committee members include the principal and welfare team at St Kilda Primary School, Homeless Children's Specialist Support Service (HCSSS) team members (including the Education Pathways Workers, Team Leader, Group Worker, and psychologist), the St Kilda Adventure Playground Leader, and a member of the Department of Education School Focused Youth Services staff.
Parents and teachers are also regularly consulted to ensure the program continues to evolve to meet the needs of all those involved in the program.
In 2015, Launch Housing developed the Education Pathways Program (EPP) in response to the growing number of children experiencing homelessness who are vulnerable to school disengagement and had a history of school absenteeism.
The EPP provides support to families residing in two rooming houses in St Kilda as a result of homelessness and/or family violence. These are located closely to Launch Housing crisis accommodation site in South Melbourne.
The EPP aims to support the regular school attendance, participation and wellbeing of children experiencing homelessness and/or family violence. The program specifically works to mitigate the negative effects of these experiences on a child’s education, such as absenteeism. Ultimately, we aim to help children reconnect with education, overcome trauma, build resilience and improve their long term outcomes.
This is achieved by:
- Reducing a child’s lost learning time
- Building parental capacity
- Developing partnerships with schools
The EPP achieves these objectives through providing:
- Outreach engagement at emergency accommodation providers;
- Short term school enrolment at a local primary school;
- The Walking School Bus, which ensures regular attendance at school;
- The Healthy Eating Program to provide children with a nutritious breakfast and lunch each day;
- Cognitive and educational assessments, counselling and classroom support;
- Speech therapist sessions to improve learning comprehension;
- School supplies and other material aid, such as school uniforms;
- Social inclusion through recreational activities;
- Support to enrol in new schools when families find longer-term housing; and
- Ongoing monitoring and support to parents and schools.
The EPP makes an incredible difference to the educational outcomes of highly disadvantaged children. Based on a well-developed program logic and the ongoing monitoring of outcomes, we know that the 200 children who have participated between October 2015 and June 2017 have consistently achieved attendance rates between 95% and 100%.
The current program is delivered for $290,000 p.a including staffing (salaries, oncosts,overheads) and limited flexible funding for children's education costs. The true costs of the program is approximately $700,000 if fully funded. Current funding ceases on 30 June 2019.
There is no other service that routinely intervenes within an outreach capacity to support primary school attendance. A further point of difference of the EPP is that support is never closed; it follows students/families to their next school and beyond.
Ideally, this successful program is expanded to other regions to help ensure better educational outcomes for highly vulnerable young students experiencing homelessness and/or family violence.