Number 11: A meta-analysis of the impact of community-based prevention and early intervention action

This report was published by the former Department of Families, Community Services (FaCS).

Preface

This study was commissioned by the Department of Family and Community Services (FaCS) in December 1999 and was largely completed by February 2000. Given the timeframe involved, it was challenging to cover all the literature addressing the impact of community-based prevention and early intervention action. Inevitably, judgements had to be made as to what to include and what  to leave out. The basis for these judgements is addressed in some detail in Chapter 1. These  judgements involved decisions as to both topics to be covered and coverage within topics. Therefore this study is not comprehensive in the sense that it covers all possible topics  where community-based prevention and early intervention action is evident, nor does  it exhaustively review all literatures that address such action.

However, the authors believe that the topics covered and the literature surveyed are sufficiently comprehensive to provide a good guide to the empirical assessment of the effectiveness of community-based prevention and early intervention programs. The authors hope that the study will therefore provide a guide to policy formation, while recognising that further research will be required in order to intensify and extend our knowledge about the likely effectiveness of such programs.

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Executive summary

This study  posed  two principal questions of the Stronger  Communities element of the Commonwealth Government’s Stronger  Families  and Communities Strategy:

  • What is the evidence that prevention and early  intervention programs promote  the development of stronger  communities and create  measurable positive social  outcomes?
  • What is the evidence that there  is a cost-benefit to be achieved by government supporting such  programs?

Substantial evidence to answer these  questions is presented in the report.  From this evidence, it may  be concluded that:

  • prevention and early  intervention programs do contribute to the promotion of strong communities and to positive social  outcomes—furthermore, they  do so in a way  that enables communities to continue to deal  with issues  through  their own  resilience and capacities; and
  • prevention and early  intervention programs contribute to community building and positive social  outcomes in a cost-effective way—in many  instances, these  cost-benefits are demonstrably cumulative.

A large  number of programs are reviewed and the evidence from cost-benefit analysis shows that a wide  range  of programs are successful both in terms of their dollar  value  as well  as building stronger  and healthy communities. Many studies  highlight the economic savings that can be achieved through  prevention and early  intervention.

As well  as the economic benefits, many  programs referred  to outcomes that are linked both directly and indirectly to the stronger  communities’ indicators—that is, knowledge and community skills,  including volunteering; networks and partnerships in communities; leadership in communities; local  solutions to local  problems; and community capacity to use best practice.

Many of the programs surveyed were  developed in response to particular social  indicators (such  as juvenile crime,  poor educational achievement, homelessness) rather  than being established with the primary  objective of strengthening communities. In addition, most programs were  delivered within  a context  narrower than the broader community—for example, schools, families. Notwithstanding, explicit links  to the broader community was  a critical  component to the success of many  programs. Therefore, programs delivered in environments such  as schools  and families  are capable of producing outcomes that contribute to stronger  and healthier communities. Further examination is warranted of prevention and early  intervention as strategies for community building that focus on strengthening communities as a means  of developing social  capital.

Some specific  conclusions may  be drawn  from the various  areas  covered in this study.

Community wellbeing

The analysis of community wellbeing (the physical, mental  and social  wellbeing of people) showed that there  is increasing recognition of the importance of community participation and the role that community groups  play  in developing healthy communities. In particular the analysis shows:

  • the building of trust and reciprocity leads  to an increased social  capital, which  is an important  ingredient of healthy communities; and
  • there  is significant research to support  the notion  that people with diverse networks of quality relationships are healthier than people who  are socially isolated.

Keys to building healthier and therefore stronger  communities are:

  • structures in place  to identify  community leaders and other highly-motivated community members; and
  • the inputs  of relevant professionals working in the community are mobilised and where these  skills  are utilised in a multi-disciplinary framework.

The building of social  capital  through  community-based programs is also facilitated where opportunities exist:

  • to enable skills  development in areas  such  as organising groups, running meetings, lobbying, the writing  of grant applications, and so on;
  • to enable the identification of funding sources and the capacity to bid for these  funds;  and
  • to build  better links  with other community groups and organisations, to publicise achievements and,  in turn, to access information about  other communities’ achievements.

Early childhood and families

The literature reviewed clearly establishes the benefits  of community-based early  childhood and family  prevention and intervention programs. The benefits  arise  from both the cost effectiveness of many  of the programs as well  as in building stronger  and healthier families and,  in turn, stronger  and healthier communities. The premise for early  childhood prevention and early  intervention programs is the recognition that a child’s  development in the first few years of life sets the foundation for life-long learning, behaviour and health  outcomes.

It is apparent from the review of the literature that:

  • a combined approach which  links  community-based programs with individual prevention and ameliorative programs targeted at at-risk  children provides superior outcomes;
  • similar  conclusions can be drawn  for family  support  programs—community-based programs build  resilience and protective factors which  address the structural  causes of disadvantage in ways  which  are not addressed by individual programs alone;
  • by building social  networks and empowering communities, self-reliance and protective factors are strengthened (and  there  is some  evidence that dependency on individual programs is thereby reduced); and
  • because of the complexity and multi-dimensional nature  of many  social  problems affecting children and families  (for example, child  abuse, maltreatment, and so on ), community- based  initiatives that are integrated with government programs, and which  address combinations of problems, are likely to produce more  socially and cost-effective results.

The study  shows  the importance of prevention and intervention programs that are initiated early  in the child’s  life. This is for three  reasons:

  • When  programs are directed at families  with children who  have  yet to complete primary school,  they  are more effective  in terms of social  outcomes (such  as reduced substance abuse, reduced maltreatment, reduced future  involvement with the justice  system, increased school  completion rates,  future  employment and so on).
  • Considerably greater  cost-benefits may  be seen  in terms of program  expenditure per participant.
  • The importance of education and schools  is emphasised, as is the importance of the active involvement of parents  and other primary  care  givers.

Young people

There is overwhelming evidence that for many  community-based programs directed at the early  prevention of social  disadvantage through  unemployment or homelessness and/or anti- social  behaviours in young people, economic and social  benefits  are delivered way  in excess of the costs of the programs. Key factors which  contribute to effective  programs are that:

  • it is important  that programs address the ‘whole-of-community’—society-wide social  and economic forces which  impact  upon  young people make  it difficult  for some  of them to avoid  the risk factors which  lead  to unemployment or homelessness or to destructive or anti-social behaviours; and
  • whole-of-person and whole-of community approaches which  coordinate appropriate service delivery are more  likely to address these  society-wide factors through  building resilience and protective barriers.

A dominant theme  in the literature was  the claim  schools  are critical  in terms of laying the foundation for healthy participation in society. ‘Instructionally-effective’ schools  are also effective  in reducing the potential for individuals to engage in delinquency. In addition, such schools  increase the chances of achieving the educational and social  skills  necessary to enter employment and to avoid  marginalisation.

In the area of crime  prevention, early  intervention is crucial:

  • in minimising future involvement as an offender  in the criminal justice  system—the more that young people become involved in the criminal justice  system, the more likely it is that they  will  continue to offend;  and
  • in reducing the costs of crime—both prosecution of crime  and incarceration are expensive and far in excess of the cost of effective  prevention and early  intervention programs.

In addition:

  • Small size programs (with  small  caseloads) appear to be more  effective  than larger  scale programs.
  • Programs  that include job training  appear to reduce recidivism, as well  as reduce substance abuse and other destructive behaviour.
  • Such programs also tend to engender a preference for work  over welfare.

Seniors and intergenerational programs

Seniors  are often addressed by social  policy as the recipients of services. While  this is important, it is not the whole picture. Seniors  also embody much  accumulated social  capital, and they  often exercise local  leadership and provide a major source  of voluntary effort. The conclusions which  may  be drawn  from the evidence are that:

  • programs to facilitate  seniors  contributing voluntary effort in the community are most effective  when  they  receive infrastructure funding and when  they  are organised or coordinated;
  • the levels  of funding for volunteer activities are low  relative to the costs of professional services;
  • the work  that can be performed is of a different  nature—however, there  are benefits  arising from the voluntary work  of seniors  that augments professional effort;
  • there  are the positive gains  for seniors  themselves from having  an active  and valued role; and
  • some  programs have  quantifiable cost-benefits in the short-term  (first order), while all have predictable longer-term cost-benefits, although these  are less easy  to quantify (second order)—however, it is clear  that these  longer-term benefits  are key  elements of stronger communities and the development of social  capital

Overall summary

Although  there  are some  quite  significant differences between the four major areas  of programs that have  been  examined in this study,  there  are also several key  issues  that may  be identified as general findings  that span  the field.

First, there  is a clear  predominance of programs either  based  in schools  or working through schools  as a community resource. Not only  are schools  essential for the development of future generations of citizens  (investing in social  capital), but also schools  are a focal point  for most communities. Networks  develop around  focal points,  shared  interests  and opportunities for people to meet.

Second, best practice in prevention and early  intervention and best practice in community building have  much  in common.  Not only  are prevention and early  intervention best located in community settings  and most effective  when  they  respond to local  conditions, but community building too may  be more  effective  when  it is addressed at the early  stage  of identifying community problems.

Third, inheritance of social  capital  requires that it is actively ‘passed on’ between generations and nurtured by older  members of communities. The intergenerational programs discussed should  not be seen  in isolation, but many  of them could  be viewed from the perspective of the other main  areas. Communities consist  of all generations and strong  communities show evidence of positive intergenerational relationships.

Fourth, community involvement and participation is a factor in all community-based programs. This includes local  leadership, volunteering, civic trust, networks and partnerships between people and between institutions. Where  professionals are involved, they  are more  effective from a community-building perspective if they  respond to local  context,  work  in multi- disciplinary ways  and adopt  facilitative approaches as much  as possible. It is also an indicator of strength  in communities when  the various  sectors  (government, business, non-government welfare, community groups and individuals) work  together  towards positive social  outcomes.

Fifth, government support  for programs is appropriate for two reasons. It is important  as seed money, especially in communities where the erosion  of civil society  can be seen  to have  had an impact  (through rising  crime  rates,  high  levels  of child  abuse, isolation of seniors, and so on). At the same  time, there  is strong  evidence that by adopting an active  role in community building, there  is great  potential for government to make  downstream savings on the projected levels  of spending on resolving social  problems. Early intervention programs that encourage community building are cost-effective.

Sixth, although many  of the programs reviewed in this study  have  a family  focus,  this is not in contradiction with community building. The programs that were  examined all achieve the promotion of stronger  communities, and many  of them do so through the interventions with families  on which  they  are based. Families  are a key  element to strong  communities because they  are a primary  building block  of the social  fabric.

Through a meta-analysis of available  evaluative literature, this study  has demonstrated the value of prevention and  early  intervention programs. These  are a key dimension to promoting stronger communities that display  the characteristics of a civil society  in which  social  capital  is nurtured for the benefit  of the whole community.

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1.  Introduction

1.1  Social capital and early intervention—strengthening communities

Social capital and civil society

Recent  debate around the issues  facing  contemporary society  has identified the fragmentation of communities and related challenges to families  as a central  concern. Cox (1995)  defines the core ‘problem’ as that of the weakening of social  capital, with the associated need  for policy to address this and to strengthen communities by promoting the growth  of social  capital. Cox is clear  that the term social  capital  ‘ …refers to the processes between people which  establish networks, norms and social  trust and facilitate  co-ordination and co-operation for mutual benefit’ (1995,  p. 15).

Social  capital  is the sum of relationships and networks that make  for a flourishing society, that provide the basis  for a general sense  of wellbeing and promote  integration. Although  this concept draws  on economic language, it concerns ‘the good’  in the sense  of values attached to the experience of social  life rather  than to ‘goods’  in the populist sense  sometimes attached to this term. Flourishing local  economies may  be a consequence of social  capital, but they  are not synonymous (Gittell & Vidal 1998, p. 19). Falk and Harrison  (1998,  p. 3) go further and argue that a strong  economy is an effect, rather  than a cause  of strong  civil society.

Understood thus, social  capital  (Cox 1995, pp. 16-19)  consists  of:

  • trust—a reciprocal respect for each  other shared by members of a society, that includes a positive regard  for difference and a sense  of mutuality;
  • cooperation—a willingness to be involved in shared enterprises that does  not depend on an immediate and concrete equality of exchange but is based  on a give-and-take in which reciprocation is achieved in a more  complex way;
  • time—that  the social  world  (including employment) is organised in such  a way  that people have  the capacity to engage with their fellow  citizens;
  • voluntarism—both the capacity and the willingness to be active  in society  of people’s own volition;
  • community—the sense  that the immediate society  within  which  people live and work  is something of which  they  are part; and
  • democracy—that the social  and political structures (at all levels) are based  on the involvement of citizens  in ways  that incorporate all the above.

Cox draws  her use of the notion  of social  capital  from the work  of Putnam  (1993).  He had previously summarised the concept, and the importance that it has for strengthening or weakening communities, as one of the central  themes  of debate about  the nature  of modern society  (Putnam  1993, pp. 163-67).  The issue  to be addressed is why  and how  societies vary in the extent  to which  they are ‘civil’ (that is, achieve strength  through  the elements listed  by Cox (above)). Yet Putnam  is clear  that civil society  and strong community should  not be associated with ‘traditionalism’; and that modernity is not necessarily the enemy of civility  (p. 114). Putnam associates civil society  with ‘enlightened self-interest’, not ‘altruism’, as against ‘myopic self- interest’—‘self interest  that is alive  to the interests  of others’ (p. 88). Mutuality  or reciprocity is the basis  of a strong community, expressing the value  that it is good  for a person  to address the needs of others because by doing  this, their own  needs will  be met. It is immediately apparent that the elements described by Cox are necessary for this to be accomplished.

Gray extends this question by noting  that in the most recent  times,  the differences of opinion and values in our societies have  become so great  that the most effective  way  to understand the relations of a civil society  is through  notions  of ‘complex fairness’  (1996,  p. 47). In these circumstances, the strengthening of communities, even  the possibility of ‘community’, will  only be achievable if the virtuous  circles  of civic trust, norms,  networks and reciprocity are facilitated and sustained (Putnam  1993, p. 177).  Interestingly, Putnam  points  to the way  in which relatively informal  voluntary associations are an important  part of the way  that this can be achieved. Choral  societies, sports clubs  and community service  organisations are the barometer of strong  communities and at the same  time central  parts of the ways  in which  that strength  is developed. The ‘depletion of volunteering’ as observed recently in many  western societies is an example of this barometer falling,  and so can be taken  as a negative measure of social  capital  (Falk  & Harrison  1998, p. 18).

Gittell and Vidal (1998)  make  a distinction between ‘bonding capital’  and ‘building capital’. The former is that which  ‘brings  closer  together  people who  already know  each  other’,  while the latter ‘brings  together  people who  previously did not know  each  other’ (p. 15). Although  a simple  conceptual distinction, it may  be important  when  applying the idea  of social  capital  to policy development. That which  ‘bonds’  may  not ‘build’,  while ‘building’ may  be seen  as of equal importance as a policy objective, and so on. This is especially the case  in those communities where there  are ‘structural  holes’  (Gittell & Vidal 1998, p. 20), which  is a metaphor for people and groups who  could  benefit  from connection with each  other but who are limited  by social  structures from developing those  connections.

Analysts  in this field agree that to promote  civil society, build  social  capital  and strengthen communities, it is necessary for governments to develop policies that promote, facilitate  or support  the various  elements that go to make  up the necessary community infrastructure (Cox 1995; Gray 1996).  In particular, this suggests that government has a key  role not only in the formation  of policy but also through  more tangible assistance to voluntary and non-government effort by those people in communities who  seek  to respond to the needs around them. Such a role is likely to be congruent with the task of government in promoting economic and fiscal development—indeed as Woolcock (1998)  argues, economic growth  is likely to be tied to the fate of civil society  and the ‘returns’  to be gained from ‘investment’ in social  capital. The challenge is for government intervention to facilitate  and empower community strength  rather than to be a ‘top down’  provider of solutions. The causal chain  runs from civil society  to economic wellbeing by way  of stronger  communities (Falk & Harrison  1998, p. 18).

Paldam  and Svensden (1999,  p .3) have  distinguished between positive and negative indicators (or measures) of social  capital. The positive indicators are those  elements listed  above. The negative indicators are those  phenomena more  usually referred  to as social  issues  or problems, such  as crime,  endemic high  levels  of health  morbidity, family  breakdown and isolation of seniors. As these  authors  point  out, it is perhaps more difficult  to measure something such  as ‘trust’ (1999,  p. 10) and yet they  cite some  of this can be achieved by using  Putnam’s  (1993) discussion as a basis.  However, this work  is preliminary and although it has generated possible economic modelling techniques, it is noted  that these  require further evaluative evidence before  they  can be regarded as robust  (Paldam & Svensden 1999, p. 31).

Prevention and early intervention strategies

Contemporary evidence concerning the effectiveness of social  intervention shows  that while the targeting of intensive high-cost interventions to those  most in need  is efficient  in managing the demand for health  and human  services, balancing this with prevention and early intervention strategies is also necessary (Smith 1999).  These  two terms refer to elements in the overall  range  of points  at which  particular issues  may  be addressed by policy and program development. They may  be distinguished quite  simply:

  • prevention—programs and practices that intervene with individuals, families  or communities to stop the occurrence of a problem or issue  that could  otherwise be expected; and
  • early  intervention—programs and practices that intervene with individuals, families  or communities at an early  stage  in the occurrence of a problem or issue  in such  a way  that there  is a high  probability that the intervention will  resolve the problem or issue  and stop it from becoming worse.

Therefore, although there  is a difference between the two approaches, it can be seen  that they are also closely connected (Chamberlain & Mackenzie 1998, p. 115).  In some  programs they are separated, while in many  they  are treated  as two parts of the same  strategy. There are also instances where the distinction may  be further blurred  by reference to ‘primary’  and ‘secondary’ prevention, in which  the latter term is synonymous with early  intervention (Cox, 1997 p. 247; Chamberlain & Mackenzie 1998, p. 116).  The blurring arises  because the problems and issues  develop over time in a complex relationship of causes and effects,  rather  than being a single  cause-effect event  with a sharply defined start and finish.

Prevention and early  intervention strategies have  increasingly become regarded as necessary, although not sufficient  elements of community development (Sowers et al. 1996, p. 225; Reppucci et al. 1999).  This is not to deny  that continuing or acute  primary  health  and other community services have  a role.  The work  of Keating  and Mustard  (1993)  for example, clearly demonstrates the community benefits  (including those  of economic growth) of early intervention programs with very  young children and their parents. However, the importance of prevention and early  intervention derives from the way  in which  they  are a means  to empowering communities to exercise greater independence and self-reliance. Of particular significance in this regard  is the connection between social  capital  (both  ‘building’ and ‘bonding’) and the strategies of prevention and early  intervention. The objectives of these strategies can be summarised in terms of increasing the strength  of communities by working with and through  the communities themselves. If programs are to be successful, the means and ends  of community development need  to be congruent in this way  (Sowers et al. 1996; Gittell & Vidal 1998).

A distinction is often made, in practice as well  as in theory,  between ‘community-based’ and ‘community (development)’ programs. The former term is applied to those  programs that have individuals and families  as their main  objective and their means  of intervention. Both the ends and the means  of the latter category are communities as a whole, in which  interventions with individuals and families  are at the level  of the social  relationships between them.  However, as the evidence summarised in this report  demonstrates, this distinction may  mask  the extent  to which  community-based programs may  have  tangible benefits  for the development of communities and,  vice versa, community development may  also bring  benefits  to individuals and families.

Principles of community development that are also encapsulated in community-based prevention and early  intervention strategies are:

  • a ‘bottom-up’  approach—working from the perspectives of people within  a community in the definition of social  issues  and appropriate program  responses;
  • participation—the active  involvement of community members in all aspects of programs (this includes the engagement and motivation of participants, especially when  it facilitates the emergence of local  leadership);
  • a ‘strengths’  perspective’—rather than focusing  solely on problems and deficiencies, building on existing strengths  in a community as a resource for programs; and
  • empowerment—promoting community self-reliance and (including working ‘with’ and ‘for’as the appropriate orientation of professionals involved in programs).

These  principles are widely regarded as the keynotes of effective  community development (Lackey  & Gersham  1992; Sowers  et al. 1996; Kaplan  1997; Chamberlain & Mackenzie 1998; Gittell & Vidal 1998).  They are also highly congruent with the elements of social  capital, including trust, cooperation, voluntarism, community and democracy (see  discussion on social capital  above).

Prevention and early  intervention strategies are found  in a wide  range  of community programs. These  include programs for early  childhood, young people, Indigenous people and seniors. The issues  addressed include drug  and alcohol dependence, homelessness, crime,  mental health  (including suicide), physical health, child  protection and intergenerational issues. In each  instance, the programs in question aim to integrate a response based  on a particular issue with a more  general sense  of community building that can be seen  in terms of social  capital accumulation. Yet in many  instances, the focus of programs and community services more generally on prevention and early  intervention, do so in terms of community deficits.  In the light of the connections between social  capital  and effective  community building through  earlyintervention strategies, there  is a need  to consider the positive indicators that may  be used  as‘measures’ of stronger  communities.

From the literature that addresses the connections between social  capital  and prevention and early  intervention, there  is a range  of positive indicators that can be identified (Putnam  1993; Cox 1995; Sowers  et al. 1996; Gittell & Vidal 1998; Paldam  & Svensden 1999).  In turn, these can be divided between social  indicators (SI) of building resilience and indicators of stronger communities (SC). The SI measures are those  factors through  which  it is possible to see  the social  effects of strengthening communities, while the SC measures are the important  elements of stronger  communities. The literature supports the delineation of six SI factors and five SC indicators. These  are:

Social  indicators

  1. strengthened local  economic capacity
  2. reduced crime  (including vandalism)
  3. reduced welfare dependency
  4. better health  outcomes
  5. reduced long-term unemployment
  6. increased social  capital  (as defined above)

Stronger communities indicators

  1. knowledge and skills,  including volunteering
  2. networks and partnerships
  3. community leadership
  4. local  solutions to local  problems
  5. community capacity to use best practice.

These  indicators draw  explicitly on the dimensions of civil society  identified by Putnam  (1993) that were  further developed by other analysts already cited.  It is argued that the strength  of communities is revealed in the ways  in which  the following questions may  be answered about a locality:

  • Is the knowledge and skill  in dealing with social  issues  at the local  level  shared  informally within  a community?
  • Is there  a high  level  of voluntary effort in community life?
  • Are there  networks and partnerships between community members in a variety  of aspects of shared  community life?
  • Is there  identifiable leadership within  the community?
  • Is the community able  to generate local  solutions to the problems that it faces  at a local level?
  • Does the community have  the capacity to make  use of the best models or practices for community building to resolve problems and respond to issues?

The SC indicators can be used  to identify  the extent  to which  a particular community has the potential resilience to deal  with issues  and resolve problems locally. These  indicators incorporate the principles of social  capital  development discussed above, including bottom-up approaches, local  solutions, partnerships, networks, active  social  participation including volunteering, increased self-reliance, sharing best practice, and gaining skills  and knowledge (Smith & Herbert  1997).  So it may  be noted  that community strength  is associated with social capital  development and a strong  civil society. It is also important  to note that both the theoretical work  and the empirical studies  of strength  in communities emphasise the ways  in which  these  elements are linked.

It is these  indicators that form the basis  of the Stronger  Communities Strategy  announced by the Federal  Government in 1999 (Newman 1999, p. 4). This statement outlined the strategy as ‘…the vehicle for promoting self-reliant communities [and] build[ing] leadership and local  skills’ (p. 5). This strategy incorporates the SC indicators discussed above, focusing  on local leadership, extensive skills  and knowledge, and strong  networks and partnerships. The strategy includes all sectors—government, business, and not-for-profit  welfare organisations as well  as individuals and community groups.

Figure  1 displays the analytic framework of this study  in graphic format. It shows  the connection between programs that have  the goal  of strengthening communities, the indicators of strong  communities and the positive social  indicators that may  be used  to chart and evaluate success.

Figure 1:  Analytic framework of strengthening communities’ indicators

Figure 1: Analytic framework of strengthening communities’ indicators

The purpose of this study  is to examine evaluative material to see  whether this connection is plausible. In other words,  what  is the evidence that interventions in the form of programs that seek  to develop stronger  communities and measurable positive social  outcomes are connected in this way?  Furthermore, what  is the evidence that there  is a cost-benefit to be achieved by government supporting such  programs?

This is not to say that these  indicators can be treated  deterministically—that is, a particular position  in relation to one indicator will  not of itself provide a way  of establishing exactly where a community will  be in its development in relation  to any other indicator. However, in broad terms it may be expected that a similar  direction of movement will  be seen  in relation to all indicators if a community is weakening or becoming stronger  (Putnam  1993; Gittell & Vidal, 1998).  Therefore, these  indicators have  been  used  in this study  to report on the relevance of particular projects  and approaches as a basis  for building resilience and strength  in communities.

It should  also be noted  that the extent  to which  prevention and early  intervention programs explicitly address the development of social  capital  and the building of stronger  communities varies  greatly between specific  cases.

This is reflected in the presentation and discussion of programs in the following chapters where there  are underlying or tangential gains  in building social  capital  and stronger communities alongside the benefits  that are intended and explicit.

To explain how  projects  that incorporate these  factors and demonstrate a contribution to strengthening communities have  been  identified, and how  this evidence has been  evaluated, the following parts of this introduction discuss the methodologies of the literature study  and of the cost-benefit analysis.

1.2   Methodological approach of the literature study

This study  focuses  on reviewing relevant national and international literature on community- based  approaches to responding to family  and community problems by:

  • reporting on the financial implications of prevention and early  intervention approaches with reference to the five factors of the FaCS’ Stronger  Communities Strategy  (see  SC indicators listed  above) and emphasising the short-term  and long-term costs and benefits  of investing in these  approaches; and
  • where appropriate, extrapolating the benefits  of particular local  projects  to estimate what the costs and benefits  would be if that approach, or a similar  one,  were  to be applied nationwide.

The strength  of this meta-analysis and extent  of the cost-benefit analysis relies  on the scope and potency of underlying literature in providing the information required. In the search  for materials, a large  number of programs were  identified that appeared to relate  to the theme  of stronger  communities, but they  could  not be included because of the absence of any evaluation or because the literature did not contain  sufficient  detail.  The researchers therefore focused on accessing materials that would be accessible within  the required timeframe. Where gaps  have  been  identified and the potential for further study  is identifiable, this has been addressed at relevant points  throughout the study.

The literature review was  based  on an extensive database (via  ERIC, ATSIROM, AUSTROM, BIDS IBIS, SOCIAL SCIENCE ABSTRACTS,  SOCIAL WORK ABSTRACTS and SOCIOLOGICAL ABSTRACTS) and World Wide  Web search  (including Internet  sites known to the researchers). In an attempt  to find other relevant material, contact  also was  made  with people in several government departments and community-based organisations, and with academics working in related areas.

Relevant  databases accessed via ATSIROM and AUSTROM included:

  • FAMILY (Family  & Society)
  • AGIS (Law)
  • CINCH (Criminology)
  • AEI (Education)
  • MAIS (Multiculturalism)
  • ATSIS (Indigenous Studies)
  • ATSI/HEALTH (Health)
  • HERA (Heritage/Culture)
  • APAIS (Public  Affairs).

Key words  or phrases used  in the search  included:

  • social  indicators/outcomes
  • wellbeing indicators
  • community capacity
  • social/economic costs
  • stronger/healthy communities
  • cost-benefit analysis
  • program  evaluation
  • early  intervention
  • prevention
  • community-based programs
  • Aboriginal communities.

The period  covered in the database search  was  over the past 10 years. In a small  number of searches, no time limit was  specified. The study  also involved a search  for materials in reference lists of some  key  articles  provided by FaCS and articles  and materials known to the researchers.

After searching the literature and determining data  that was  accessible within  the project timeframe, the researchers decided to focus on programs in::

  • Community wellbeing
  • Early childhood and families
  • Young  people
  • Seniors  and intergenerational programs.

Original  plans  to review literature gathered in relation  to community health  programs were abandoned because the material was  more  clinically-based rather  than linking to the stronger communities’ themes  identified in the project  brief.

The researchers accessed data  on Australian-based programs and they  located some  basic information about  a range  of programs that had been  evaluated and appeared to relate  to the stronger  communities’ theme.  However, it was  extremely difficult  to access further details because of the lack  of readily-available information and/or information available within  the timeframe. Finding  community-based program information was  also difficult  because of the lack  of accessible information and the fact that the intellectual copyright of many  programs belongs to government funding bodies. Some material relating to Aboriginal community programs has been  included, but again  much  of this lacked sufficient  detail,  was  written  from a theoretical rather  than empirical perspective, or is not freely  available because of intellectual ownership and copyright. This is an indicator that more  attention  could  be paid  to accessible evaluations of programs that strengthen Aboriginal communities.

In addition, much  available evaluative research is very  heavily based  in the United  States. This was  the experience of the researchers in this project  as well  as others  reviewing similar programs (as noted  for example in Bright 1997).  As a result,  few Australian program  examples are provided and key  areas  have  not been  examined in this report  including relevant Indigenous programs and rural and regional programs. This evidence suggests a need  for greater efforts to evaluate and publish findings  concerning effective  Australian projects (of which  there  are anecdotal indications of a growing number).

Not only  was  literature in both Australia  and overseas lacking in evaluations which  provide for a cost-benefit analysis of prevention and early  intervention programs and community building strategies, there  also was  some  inconsistency in what  was  evaluated. For example, some evaluations related more to the administration of the program  rather  than the social  objectives.

The lack  of evaluations appears to be due  to a range  of factors including insufficient resources for such  evaluations to take  place. Also, the establishment of many  programs did not include evaluative mechanisms, making evaluation of impacts  beyond the program  difficult.  A compounding factor was  that much  program  information was  obtained from secondary sources where a program was  cited  by an author  as part of their research on a particular topic. Full details  of the program, its funding, costs and outcomes were  therefore not always included. The program  evaluations also varied  in their emphasis and methodology with some evaluations occurring at the time the program  was  run, some  after the program had been completed, and others  some  time later in relation  to another  piece  of research. This led to differing  data  within  the literature being  elicited and prevented direct  comparisons between programs. However, some  programs for which  there  is little or no evaluative evidence are included because of the potential that can be seen  for future follow-up in further studies  in this field (such  as LETS, Food-Share and Community Builders discussed in Chapter  2).

Specific  short-term  and long-term costs and benefits  are outlined for some  programs. There  is also significant material which  reinforces the groundswell of support  for prevention approaches and notes  more  generally the effectiveness of prevention and early  intervention approaches as having  the potential to save  costs downstream as well  as to contribute to building social  capital  and stronger  communities.

Programs  within  the literature range  from small  locally-based unfunded projects  to large-scale government-funded and coordinated programs. The extent  of program description and evaluation material varied  significantly, leading to varying capacity to review the literature in a consistent manner. This has also led to variations in the level  of data  reviewed and discussed for different  community-based approaches.

1.3   Methodological approach of the cost-benefit analysis

Cost-benefit  analysis is a technique widely used  by economists in applied welfare economics. It is particularly useful  in the evaluation of social  and economic programs undertaken by government, but is also widely used  in the private  sector  as a component of investment and project  planning and evaluation.

A key  insight  utilised in cost-benefit analysis is that often there  is a divergence between social and private  costs and benefits. That is, although accounting costs and the accounting projection of forthcoming benefits  to an organisation from a particular project  in terms of revenue and profits may  capture the private  costs and benefits  to the organisation, they  may not capture the overall  costs or benefits  that accrue  to society.

For example, the costs of materials and the labour  involved in the production of a particular good  or service  represents the private  costs to the organisation of producing that good  or service. However, further costs may  be imposed on others  as a by-product. Take  the case  of a production process that results  in effluent  being  discharged into the environment (for example, the air or a river).  The effluent  may  impose further costs on other producers or consumers not directly connected with the initial  production process. Typically, these  social  costs are not reflected in the private  cost calculation undertaken by the organisation responsible for the production process.

As well,  sometimes the private  calculation of benefits  (revenues and profits)  does  not account for all the benefits  that accrue  to society  from a particular activity.  For example, take  a health clinic  which  immunises people against particular diseases. Although  the private  benefit  to the patient  is that he or she is protected against particular communicable diseases, others  not part of the transaction between doctor and patient  benefit  too, because as a result  they  will  be less likely to be exposed to communicable disease.

The analytical issue  is that social  costs and benefits  are usually not included as part of market prices.  Social  costs and benefits  are ‘external’ to the market’s valuation of costs and benefits (indeed, economists refer to these  social  costs and benefits  as ‘externalities’). The result  is that from society’s perspective market  prices  will  result,  in either  too many  or too few of the goods and services which  are subject  to these  external costs and benefits  being  produced.

In terms of the current  study,  these  externalities are important  because a feature  of community-based programs is that they  often produce social  benefits  way  beyond the direct benefits  to the participants in the particular programs. They also often result  in cost savings elsewhere in the community which  are unrelated to the direct costs of the programs. A notorious problem in accounting for these  social  benefits  (especially) and costs is that although very  real, they  are very  difficult  to measure. (How  does  one measure the undoubted social  benefit  of ‘improved self-esteem’?) To account for this methodological difficulty, in many  cases  the cost-benefit calculations that are reported throughout this study  will  be supplemented by discussion of these  social  costs and benefits. It is important, therefore, to see  reported benefit- cost ratios as minima, rather  than maxima.

A related issue  is that the focus of this study  is the evaluation of benefits  and costs from the perspective of the state.  The underlying questions that are being  addressed are,  is the state (and,  through  the state,  taxpayers) getting  ‘value  for money’ in the programs being  reviewed? And where are opportunities for the state to get greatest value  for money in its conduct  of social policy?  This is, of course, only  one perspective. The evaluation of programs often has evaluations from other perspectives, unrelated to the perspective and interests  of the state,  as a component. For example, often benefits  are couched in terms of benefits  to individuals that have  no obvious social  benefit  implication. (For example, improved self-esteem that results from a program may  result  in few immediate and tangible benefits  to others,  but be vitally important  to the individual affected  and may  have  longer-term positive consequences for the community. Similarly, improved connections between people involved in a program might be a real  benefit  to those  individuals, but may  affect no-one  else  in an obvious and measurable way.) Nevertheless, these  benefits  are very  real  and a further reason  why  reported benefit-cost ratios must be seen  as minima.

Many of the programs for which  the evaluations are reported cover  either  a small  group  of participants or a portion  of a year.  The question arises  as to whether these  programs could  be run either  with a greater  number of participants, say,  in different  locations or even  nationally, or over a longer  time, say  a year,  and the benefit-cost calculations remain  unchanged, save  for scale  effects.  The answer is very  complex. Evaluation  exercises often refer to the problem of ‘creaming’ (Kenyon  1994).  This occurs  when  the participants who  enter  a program are either selected or self-select, either  consciously or unconsciously, on the basis  that they  have  the greatest aptitude to succeed in the program. Creaming can occur  in very  subtle  and unconscious ways. For example, the choice  of a particularly disadvantaged area  in order  to conduct  a trial program  may  mean  the selection of a group  of participants with the highest motivation to use the program  to escape disadvantage.

Of course, should  creaming occur,  the success of the program  is likely to be far greater  than if eligible participants were  randomly assigned a place  in a particular program. It follows  that as a wider  pool  of potential applicants is drawn  upon,  to the extent  that creaming has occurred earlier in the participant selection process, the success rate (and  thus the benefit-cost ratio)  of the program is likely to fall.

A related concept in program  evaluation is the problem of ‘dead-weight loss’.  This occurs when the beneficial aspects which  might come  to pass  for some  program participants would have  happened in the absence of the program anyway (Kenyon  1994).  Thus, the cost of the program  attributable to those  participants is ‘wasted’ in the sense  that the benefits  would have happened anyway. The higher  the dead-weight loss,  the more the benefit-cost ratio for the program  is overstated. The dead-weight loss in any  interventionist program is notoriously difficult  to estimate, as the counterfactual is never  observed.

Finally,  for the practical reasons indicated above, the reporting of programs in the literature is often unconnected with explicit cost-benefit evaluation of the programs. For the most part, as a result  there  is very  incomplete accounting for benefits  (especially) or for costs—although estimates of the latter are often easier to access. Consequently, the researchers have  often resorted  to estimates, using  plausible assumptions of what  would be the minimum number of successful outcomes that would be necessary for a program to cover  its direct  costs and calculated a dollar  value  for these  outcomes. The implication is that where such  numbers turn out to be a very  small  percentage of the numbers likely to be affected  by the program, then the probability of a positive (and  maybe substantial) benefit-cost ratio is likely.

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2. Community wellbeing

The search  for information generally identified programs either  in relation  to specific  age groups (early childhood, seniors, young people) or particular areas  of prevention and early intervention (child  abuse/maltreatment, crime). However, program information and studies  that relate  in various  ways  to the broader aim of enhancing the overall  ‘wellbeing’ (Falk  & Harrison 1998) or ‘health’  (Catalano & Hawkins 1996) of communities is identifiable in the literature. These  programs and studies  include both community-based prevention and early  intervention strategies and community work  in which  community building was  the immediate explicit purpose of the intervention.

As noted  in Chapter  1, a range  of literature refers to the value  of communities that:

  • are based  on trust, reciprocity, cooperation;
  • are organised in a way  that provides time for people to engage with fellow  citizens;
  • have  a capacity and willingness for voluntarism;
  • create  a sense  of belonging to one’s  community; and
  • contain  democratic structures  that involve  citizens.

(Cox 1995; Putnam  1993; Gray 1996; Gittell & Vidal 1998; Falk & Harrison,  1998).

The notions  of community participation and the value  of networks in building stronger communities are further explored by Baum  et al. (1999).  It is argued that there  is increasing recognition of the importance of community participation and the role that community groups play  in developing communities in which  trust building and reciprocity lead  to an increase in social  capital  (Baum  et al. 1999).  Further,  there  is significant research to support  the notion  that people with diverse networks of quality relationships are healthier than people who  are socially isolated. In this context,  health  is described as the physical, mental  and social wellbeing of people (Rosenfeld 1997, cited  in Baum  et al. 1999).  Further,  a strong  and healthy community may  be described as one that:

  • provides a clean, safe physical environment;
  • meets  the basic  needs of residents;
  • has residents that respect and support  each  other;
  • involves the community in local  government;
  • promotes and celebrates its historical and cultural  heritage;
  • provides easily accessible health  services;
  • has a diverse, innovative economy; and
  • rests on a sustainable ecosystem (Ontario  Healthy  Communities Coalition  2000).

As discussed in Chapter  1, based  on the concepts of civil society  and social  capital, the key elements of stronger  communities are:  knowledge and community skills  including volunteering; networks and partnerships in communities; leadership in communities; local solutions to local  problems; and community capacity to use best practice.

The consistent elements in all of the materials cited  that relate  to stronger/healthy communities, is the importance of a sense  of connectedness between people, and between people and their community in an environment in which  all people are able  to participate to their full potential.

At the same  time, a number of factors are cited  as contributing to the unraveling of social  ties and community life. These  include:

  • changes in the labour  market  such  as the decline in manufacturing jobs, changes in industrial relations, increased female  labour  force participation, increasing suburbanisation, globalisation of jobs and racial  discrimination in hiring  (Debelle & Borland  1998; Morrison et al. 1997);
  • a widening in the income  distribution and the associated ‘disappearing middle  class’ (Gregory 1993; Borland  & Wilkins,  1996; Harding  & Richardson, 1998);
  • increased divorce  and family  breakdown; and
  • technological change which  has increased the pace  of life and the stress of contemporary living  (Mackay 1999).

There has been  an overemphasis on individual remediation and treatment and an underemphasis on prevention and development (Morrison  et al. 1997).  In addition, Morrison et al. refer to services with fragmented funding that are poorly  designed and do little to contribute to building an overall  neighbourhood structure. The importance of prevention strategies is also highlighted by claims  that billions  of dollars  are spent  on public  services to address problems that are preventable. Not only  does  it make  economic sense  to invest  in prevention strategies, it is also a mechanism for building capacity rather  than fostering dependence on public  programs (Iowa  Kids Count Initiative  1993).

The Iowa  Blueprint Investment Strategy  is a community prevention agenda developed in the United  States (US) in the early  1990s to help  children to thrive.  It states  that over US$2 billion was  spent  in 1992–93 on problems that can be prevented. The key  areas  of expenditure were remedial services (health, education and human  services); adult  dependence (welfare and health  care  costs);  and public  protection (juvenile and adult  corrections). A number of poor outcomes that are preventable are listed,  including:

  • health—low birth weight, neonatal intensive care,  chronic  and severe health  problems, mental  and neurological problems;
  • education—grade retention and school  drop outs;
  • human  service—child abuse/neglect, foster care  and juvenile delinquency; and
  • adult  dependency—welfare dependency, criminal behaviour/incarceration and unemployment and lost economic activity.

It is argued that if public  expenditure to address preventable problems can be reduced by five per cent,  the state will  save  over US$3 for every  US$1 invested in prevention initiatives (Iowa Kids Count Initiative  1995).

Within Australia,  two significant pieces of research were  identified—the Health  Development and Social  Capital  Project in the Western  Suburbs  of Adelaide and a Social  Cost Benefit Analysis of NSW Department of Housing’s  Neighbourhood Improvement Program.  In addition, the then Commonwealth Department of Social  Security  produced research that examines the factors affecting  living  standards and strategies that may  increase living  standards for low- income  people. Details  of this program, the Neighbourhood Improvement Program,  are provided, as well  as materials on Indigenous Australian communities’ Rural Communities and Community Economic  Development programs, in Department of Social  Security  (1997).  Some of the programs are addressed in detail,  while others  are included to indicate the potential that they  might have  for future  evaluations. Furthermore, information about  three  US-based programs is included: the Community Middle  School  Consortium, the Parent Involvement Program  and Communities that Care.

2.1   Health development and social capital project

The Health  Development and Social  Capital  Project is reported on in three  publications by Baum  et al. (1999):  Building Healthy Communities: Health Development and Social Capital Project—Western Suburbs of Adelaide; Social Capital in Action: Health Promotion and Community Groups; and Inventory of Community Groups and Organisations.

The project  commenced in 1997 and was  a collaborative effort between the South Australian Community Health  Research Unit and the Department of Public  Health  at Flinders  University in South Australia  (SA). The aim of this project  was  to explore community participation, health and social  capital  in the western suburbs of Adelaide, SA which  are characterised by:

  • a higher  proportion of people from a non-English  speaking background;
  • considerable diversity;
  • a history  of strong  networks of community organisations and collaboration between sectors; and
  • a strong  sense  of ‘community’ defined by geography and community of interest.

Specifically, the project  examined:

  • the types  of activities people are involved in, including both informal  and formal civic and social  participation; and
  • the links  between community participation and the health  of individuals and the wider health  of the community.

The specific  elements of social  capital  explored in the project  were  networks and levels  of trust and reciprocity. Material  was  drawn  from a range  of sources including:

  • a survey  of 400 residents;
  • 40 in-depth interviews;
  • a survey  of 400 community groups and organisations; and
  • case  studies  of 25 of the community groups and organisations.

The authors  were  unable to obtain  details  on any  quantitative evaluation that may  have  been completed. However, it is noted  that dividends from investment in structures which  strengthen social  and civic activity  should  be seen  in terms of increasing levels  of trust and providing natural  systems  of social  support  that have  been  shown  by Rosenfeld (1997)  to have  a generally positive effect on individual health  status (Baum  et al. 1999, p. 65).

The project  has been  included on the basis  that it is a significant overarching piece  of work that gives  context  to the role of community-based programs in contributing to the development of healthy communities.

Details  of 25 case  studies  are presented in Social Capital in Action: Health Promotion and Community Groups (1999).  The organisations and groups  receive little if any  funding and many rely  on a combination of fund raising, nominal membership fees and volunteers. Many expressed concerns about  relying on the energy and commitment of a limited  number of people who  are prepared to give  their time on a voluntary basis.  The overall  finding  was  that community groups  support  a vibrant  and energetic part of community life and they  contribute to trust building, developing relationships for mutual  benefit  and encouraging pride  in collective achievement. Specifically, the case  studies  found  examples of:

  • increased involvement in other groups  and activities by people who  had never  participated in groups  before;
  • participation in a range  of informal  and formal social  networks and exchanges;
  • the development of partnerships between a range  of government and non-government organisations;
  • development of improved relationships and trust and tolerance;
  • improved sense  of wellbeing, self-esteem and confidence; and
  • contributing to making industry and government more  accountable (Miller  et al. 1999, p. 4).

The level  of participation was  linked to a range  of socio-economic factors with findings  that:

  • those  on lower  incomes and with less education reported making greater  use of informal social  contacts;
  • those  with higher  incomes were  more  likely to be involved in civic participation;
  • young people rarely  reported involvement in civic activities and were  more  likely to be involved in informal  social  contact;
  • older  people were  more  likely to be involved in social  clubs  and engage in reciprocal relationships with their neighbours;
  • women were  far more  likely to participate in just about  all activities, particularly informal social  activities; and
  • people of non-English  speaking background are more at risk of being  excluded from social and civic activities (Baum  et al. 1999, p. 2).

Notwithstanding variations in levels  of participation, the project  concluded that community groups  and organisations are an important  resource for developing health  at the community level (Building Healthy Communities, p. 3). Specifically, the report  identified a number of local neighbourhood characteristics that can be suggested as providing a health-promoting community:

  • a growing sense  of trust between those  in a neighbourhood;
  • tangible evidence for basic  and practical levels  of support  between groups and between individual neighbours;
  • well-established systems  of informal  networks and reciprocal exchanges between individuals;
  • urban  environments which  create  and support  opportunities for a variety  of interactions between residents;
  • developed, constructive and creative ways  of dealing with hostilities and difference between groups;
  • a community in which  household incomes are at a level  which  sustains individual and community life;
  • opportunities for attaining higher  educational levels  and a willingness to achieve higher education; and
  • tolerance of racial,  cultural, social  and sexual differences and opportunities for people to mix with people from different  backgrounds to their own  (Baum  et al. 1999, p. 64).

A number of community organisations identified the following factors that would ‘make  their group  stronger’:

  • increased funding;
  • being  better  known;
  • building better links  with other community groups and organisations; and
  • skill  development for members in areas  such  as running meetings, lobbying and writing grant  applications.

2.2   New South Wales Department of Housing’s Neighbourhood Improvement Program

Through  a hypothetical case  study  analysis Stubbs  and Storer (1996)  have  undertaken a cost- benefit  analysis of the New South Wales  (NSW) Department of Housing’s  Neighbourhood Improvement Program  (NIP) to answer the following questions in relation  to the Airds Estate:

  • What do the identified problems in Campbelltown public  such  as crime,  family  and community stress,  unemployment and so on, cost the community as a whole?
  • How successful would the Neighbourhood Improvement Program  need  to be to give  a positive social  and economic return  on the money invested?  In other words,  what  problems would the program  have  to effect and to what  extent  for the money spent  to be justified?
  • How likely is it that the Neighbourhood Improvement Program  will  or can achieve the type of results  that are needed to give  a positive return  on the money the community is investing in the program?  (pp.  1-2).

The methodology used  included:

  • a survey  of the nature  and magnitude of social  problems in Airds;
  • selection of social  indicators which  were  compared against two control  areas  and the NSW average; and
  • calculation of the costs to the community of the social  indicators.

The NIP includes five public  housing estates  in Campbelltown and will  cost approximately $100 million  over 13 years. The report  states  that unemployment in Airds costs $21.7 million per year,  or $46 000 per person  per year.  This includes the cost of unemployment benefits, management of a benefit  payments system, training  programs and services for unemployed people and the opportunity costs of lost gross  domestic product  (GDP). When  the cost of other social  problems (including crime,  Department of Housing  maintenance and repairs and family  stress)  are added, it was  estimated that the total cost of social  problems in Airds is $28.5 million  per year,  or 17 times the annual cost of the program for the estate.

If social  problems in Airds were  reduced to the NSW average, the cost-benefit ratio would be 1:17 (that is, this represents a saving  of $18 million  per year). Further,  a reduction in social problems by a mere  3.7 per cent would ensure the program  ‘broke  even’.  It is claimed that this could  be achieved by the creation of 23 permanent jobs alone; a major reduction in crime  and property turnover; or a small  effect across  all indicators. However, the report  does  not provide any  details  on whether this has been  achieved.

While  the report  notes  that poor urban  design may  exacerbate social  problems, it is certainly not the cause. Therefore, physical improvement alone  would be unlikely to result  in significant reductions in social  problems. It is strongly argued that there  needs to be a range  of strategies in place, including: a high  degree of community participation; direct  job creation; decreasing community isolation through  improved transport; and enhancing opportunities for tenants  to purchase their homes.

The report  presents an overall  cost-benefit analysis through  the Airds case  study,  rather  than providing examples of community-based programs that have  been  evaluated. However, it does highlight the enormous economic and social  benefits  that can be achieved through  programs that reduce social  problems as opposed to relying on physical design alone  that is unlikely to produce lasting  effects.  Further,  it highlights the importance of community participation and community cohesion as significant factors in reducing social  problems like  crime  (Hagedorn 1991, and O’Sullivan  1991 cited  in Stubbs  and Storer 1996).

2.3   Western Australia Council of Social Service Poverty Commission —Housing for a Sustainable Community

In 1998, the Western  Australia  Council  of Social  Service  (WACOSS) Poverty  Commission requested Shelter  WA to undertake a review of the contribution of housing to ‘sustainable community’. This review was  based  on the concepts of social  capital  development, with a particular focus on housing as a key  element of community wellbeing (Shelter  2000, p. 1). Data from Western  Australia  (WA) indicate that 40 per cent of low-income households in the state are experiencing ‘housing stress’,  defined as requiring to allocate more than 30 per cent of their budget to housing costs (pp.  5–6). This is an aspect  of housing that adversely affects community wellbeing. Seniors,  people with a disability, veterans and families  with young children are highly represented in these  groups, as are Aboriginal households. The WACOSS Poverty  Commission Report highlights three  programs that seek  to redress the impact  of housing stress  in WA:

  • Supported Accommodation Assistance program (SAAP)—which provides transitional accommodation and related support  services to promote  the maximum possible degree of self-reliance and independence on the part of homeless people;
  • Tenants  Advice  Service  (TAS)—which provides information, education and advocacy for tenants; and
  • Supported Housing  Assistance Program  (SHAP)—which supports public  sector  tenants  who are experiencing difficulties in maintaining their tenancy.

All three  programs have  a very  high  usage rate of by Aboriginal households, younger single people and women escaping domestic violence. High levels  of unmet  need  are reported. These  are measured by program figures  of requests for assistance that met program specifications but to which  a response was  not possible because of limitations of staff time and/or community resources, including affordable accommodation.

These  three  programs have  made  a difference to the outcomes for people experiencing housing emergencies, in particular in relation  to the connections between housing and employment (pp.  30–2).  Although  changing employment patterns  can have  a deleterious effect on housing, conversely a housing problem can have  a serious  negative impact  on a person’s employment. Securing housing tenure  thus has a positive impact  on other aspects of the community, in reduced levels  of social  distress  (such  as less domestic violence and crime  and better health  outcomes) and increased levels  of local  economic participation.

2.4   Community Research Project

The Community Research Project is an Australian project  undertaken by the then Department of Social  Security  between 1994 and 1997.

This project  aimed  to test the potential of particular community-based services to improve the living  standards of people on low  incomes. The living  standards measured were:

  • social  participation
  • access to information
  • family  relationships
  • personal wellbeing
  • non-cash income
  • reduced costs
  • involvement in the ‘informal  labour  market’;
  • involvement in the ‘formal labour  market’

The research sites ranged from rural to inner  city, urban  and high-growth areas. Generally, the communities were  all characterised by high  unemployment and dependence on income support and were  undergoing economic decline. In addition, there  were  particular groups  of disadvantage identified (unemployed young people, Indigenous people, retired  people).

In all, 80 community-based initiatives were  funded  for 12 months  at an average cost of $18 208. Outcomes  were  measured in terms of first-order  outcomes and second-order opportunities and outcomes. First-order  outcomes were  those  that focused on the immediate resolution of an individual’s issue,  while second-order outcomes focused more on providing an opportunity that could  capitalise on or be converted into a tangible benefit  at a later date.

Qualitative data  indicates that 59 per cent of the 72 projects  were  likely to produce observable benefits  in a range  of living  standard areas. A further 56 per cent of the projects  reported achieving substantial living  standard gains:  26 per cent reported that they  were  successful in achieving some  living  standard gains;  and 18 per cent appeared to have  only  minimal effects on targeted living  standard areas.

The report  asserts  that changes could  be effected  in a range  of living  standard areas  and that a change in one living  standard area  was  highly likely to produce changes in other living standard areas. The authors  understand that an evaluation of a number of these  projects  in terms of stronger  communities and social  outcomes was  under  way  at the University of New England  in 2000 but the results  were  not available at the time of writing.

2.5   Neighbourhoods in partnership

Morrison et al. (1997)  report  on programs to build  stronger  neighbourhoods and communities through  the development of support  for families  and youth.  They argue  that connectedness between people needs to be developed and supported to overcome problems associated with social  isolation and to rebuild the economic and social  fabric.  The Community Middle  School Consortium  and the Parent Involvement Program  are two examples cited  that aim to build stronger  communities, through  the development of networks for youth  and families.

The Community Middle  School  Consortium  commenced in 1996 in a US town  called Aurora and involves a partnership of a high  school  and twelve community social  service  agencies providing services to students  and their families. Coordination of services occurs  mostly through  one agency.

Services to students  and families  are provided through  homes  visits, onsite  school appointments during  and after school,  or visits to the agencies. The educational component provides tutoring,  homework clubs  and parent  support  to parents  and children from nearly 50 families  within  the school.

The project  was  in response to high rates of student  suspension; a lack  of eligibility of high-risk children for special education services; and low  projected graduation rates.  The organisations worked together  to raise  approximately US$35 000 for the first year  of the project’s  operation through  a mixture  of local  council funds and grants.

The project  was  reported to have  assisted 50 families  with educational support; food and clothing to several students; 236 students  through  anger  management groups; and 46 individuals referred for mental  health  treatment. Findings  indicate that staff built trusting  relationships with the students  and their families. Positive  outcomes were  attributed to interdisciplinary efforts among teachers, social  workers, agency staff, community members and others and that services ‘surrounded’ students  and families  rather  than being  provided at a distance (pp.  529–30).

Aimed at increasing parent  participation in the school,  the Parent Involvement Program includes a range  of before-school, after-school and noon-time activities for students  in an elementary school  at Aurora.  Prior to the implementation of the program, very  few parents participated in the yearly ‘family  night’.  However, since  the Parent Involvement Program began, over 600 people participated in the activities offered.  In addition, of 73 surveyed parents, 32 stated  that they  had not participated in school  programs prior to the introduction of the program and 41 stated  that they  attended school-supported activities. Through  an evaluation of the impact  of parental participation in the classroom, all respondents stated  that parental participation had a positive effect, with parents  working as volunteers in the classroom and student  attendance improving by nearly 90 per cent across  all fifth-grade  classes (Morrison  et al. 1997).

No information was  available about  the cost of this program.

2.6   Communities that Care

Communities that Care (CTC) is a comprehensive community-wide and risk-focused prevention strategy aimed  at reducing identified risk factors and increasing their corresponding protective factors (Catalano &Hawkins  1996; Harachi  et al. 1996).  It has been  developed and refined  in a series  of programs that have  been  run and evaluated for over 15 years  in Washington and Oregon  in the US northwest. This work  is project-managed and researched from the University of Washington, Social  Development Research Group (SDRG), in Seattle. The ‘social  development model’  is an evidence-based theoretical tool that brings  together  ideas about  social  learning, family  and community dynamics, and social  interaction in the creation and maintenance of sub-cultures within  the context  of the wider  community. It thus avoids separating individual and collective explanations for and responses to community issues.

In the initial  phase of the program, identified community leaders focus on building local capacity for community-based prevention strategies. A Community Prevention Board  is then formed  by bringing together  formal and informal  community leaders and intervention personnel (Harachi et al. 1998).  It is the board’s  responsibility to select  and oversee the implementation of evidence-based interventions to fit local  conditions. This is done  through  an assessment of the community risks and resources that uses  a participatory approach to involve members of the community. In this way, the action  plan  that is constructed from this assessment is grounded in the community, involving members in the definition of needs and resources; building local  initiative through  participation; and working towards a mobilisation of the community to address its own  needs. Most programs have  been  funded  through  a combination of government and non-government sources, with minimal budgets to pay  for a part-time  community organiser, expenses for participant members of boards  and other incidental expenses (Cheadle et al. 1998).

Some work  has commenced in Australia  on implementing CTC programs and to date  the Centre  for Adolescent Health  (Melbourne) has piloted  a survey  to measure risk and protective factors among  young Australians with a view  to forming  preventive interventions. In 2000, the CTC program will  be trialled  in Victoria by a consortium including the Women’s  and Children’s Health  Care Network  and the Rotary Club of Melbourne (Toumbourou 1999). The implementation of a CTC program in Victoria will  integrate a randomised, controlled evaluation (Toumbourou 1999, p. 5). Its findings  are due  in 2002 and these  will  provide detailed information concerning these  aspects of the program.

It is claimed that US federal expenditure on CTC has stimulated community capacity building in the form of state and county  (equivalent to shire)  level  investment informed  by community prevention planning forums (Toumbourou 1999).  This is substantiated by the evidence from the evaluations conducted by the SDRG (Catalano & Hawkins 1996; Cheadle et al. 1998). Cost-benefits are not explicitly estimated by the SDRG, although these  may  be imputed from the relatively low  levels  of funding described and the evidence of community building outcomes. Such results  take  the form of increased community leadership, focusing  on community strengths  and the development of resilience (in the form of shared learning in ways  of addressing community issues).

2.7   Indigenous Australian communities

Indigenous community wellbeing

Many discussions of prevention and early  intervention strategies specifically for Indigenous communities emphasise very  similar  problems to those  of mainstream Australia.  Indeed, Australian projects  discussed elsewhere in this report  include Aboriginal people as well  as people of other ethnic  and cultural  origins. At the same  time, in order  that their distinctive needs are not lost or ignored, there  is a recognised need  to have  program  and studies  that are focused specifically on the wellbeing of Indigenous communities (Dodson  1998).

One factor that is of considerable importance in this area  is the ‘over-representation’  of Aboriginal young people in the criminal justice  system; in indices of at-risk  behaviours (such as substance misuse, community violence, suicide attempts); and in unemployment figures (Cunneen 1997).  This is paralleled by their relative absence from indices of positive outcomes such  as university entrance and other post-compulsory education, employment and in wider community roles.  Of course, there  are many  young Aboriginal people who  play  positive roles within  the mainstream and within  Indigenous communities. However, the higher  proportion of young Aboriginal people compared to young people from non-Indigenous backgrounds in at- risk categories is a great  concern, and in most states  the proportion has risen  in the last decade (Cunneen & McDonald,  1997 p. 21). (A slight  fall was  noticed  in WA, but this was  from a base almost  double that of the next state,  and was  still the highest proportion of over- representation.) From their summary of their review of a range  of programs Cunneen and McDonald  conclude that early  intervention strategies that are most effective  in keeping young Indigenous people out of custody  are those  that are community-based and which  are developed and implemented by the community (1997,  p. 176).

Similar  trends  may  be seen  in community-based prevention strategies to respond to excessive levels  of alcohol consumption (or ‘problem drinking’) in some  Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander  communities. Saggers and Gray (1997)  note that a much  larger  proportion of the Indigenous population than average does  not consume alcohol at all, but their consumption of alcohol at harmful  levels  is disproportionately high.  Their review and analysis of studies  in this field indicate that the underlying problem is the balance between control  of availability and the determination of sections within  the mainstream economy to provide alcohol in Indigenous communities or where Aboriginal people form a large  section  of the community. This evidence suggests that although community-based health  programs aimed  at individual people play  a part in dealing with the issue  of excessive consumption, the control  by communities of the supply of alcohol is likely to have  a more  significant impact.  The crucial factors are that the community must be the source  of the strategy (it cannot  be imposed from outside) and it must apply to all members of the community (not only  to Indigenous people). Under community-based prevention schemes, alcohol retailers suffered  a loss of income, but all other indicators of community wellbeing (including other economic activity) improved.

The common  factor between the youth  and community health  interventions briefly  summarised here  is that of community participation and leadership in all aspects of problem definition, program  design, intervention and evaluation. Most of the literature on Indigenous communities that was  surveyed and which  is summarised by the material quoted  above, made  reference to the ways  in which  the current  needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander  peoples are a consequence of having  their strengths  destroyed through  the processes of colonialism. Strategies to promote  stronger  Indigenous communities, to develop their resilience and to foster social  capital  within  them clearly have  to start from this premise.

Community Development Employment Projects

The Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) schemes were  established in 1977 to provide a work-based response to problems of unemployment among  Indigenous Australian communities. They were  designed to be community-based with local  leadership, so that they could  develop as a means  to promote  economic, social  and cultural  strength  (Arthur 1991). The program  was  reviewed at the twenty-year mark  by Spicer  (1997)  and has also been  subject to a number of other evaluations in various  respects (for example—Moizo 1990; Payne  1990; Arthur 1991; Bernard  1997).  These  evaluations together  provide diverse insights  into the strengths and weaknesses of this approach.

In what  may  be regarded as the most wide-ranging external review, Spicer  (1997)  identifies several benefits  that have  been  gained through  the CDEP. These  are:

  • employment—the rate of employment in Aboriginal communities has been  enhanced through  the CDEP by almost  20 per cent (although the rate of unemployment remains a major issue  for these  communities);
  • business development—this has been  facilitated and supported through  CDEP, including in primary  industries, manufacturing, crafts, tourism,  service  and media  enterprises (with finance obtained from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander  Commission (ATSIC), banks, land  grants  and CDEP capital  funds);
  • networking—Aboriginal communities have  been  enabled to create  networks of employment and business opportunity through  the CDEP schemes; and
  • training—in many  instances employment-related training  has become more widely available to Aboriginal communities through  the CDEP schemes.

These  gains  are interlinked, and together  represent community building for Indigenous communities through  economic activity.

The CDEP program has also been  evaluated by ATSIC (1997).  Many of the findings  in this evaluation match  those  of Spicer’s  study.  However, one important  area  that the ATSIC report identifies is that of the non-employment benefits  of the program. Four aspects in particular are reported—when compared to unemployed people in the same  communities, CDEP participants:

  • earned $4 516 more per year  (average);
  • were  only  0.7 times as likely to engage in problem drinking;
  • were  only  0.7 times as likely to have  been  arrested in the past five years; and
  • were  1.5 times more  likely to be actively identified with a clan  or language group  (ATSIC 1997, p. 53).

Each of these  factors points  to measurable cost-benefits, which  in the area  of earnings (and consequent local  economic activity) are an immediate gain  of $2 for every  $1 funding. The savings of reduced health  and crime  costs would require additional figures  on the costs of these  issues  in Aboriginal communities, but these  are unavailable. (An extrapolation using  the NSW Housing  figures  (Stubbs  and Storer, 1996) could  suggest gains  in the order  of greater than $10 saved  for every  $1 spent,  but this hypothesis requires rigorous empirical testing.) The gains in the strengthening of Aboriginal community indicated in the fourth element cannot  be quantified in the same  way. However, to the extent  that the social  problems experienced by Aboriginal communities can be traced  to the impact  of mainstream policies and related social factors (Arthur 1991; Bernard  1997),  the gains  could  be expected to be significant in terms of social  capital  (expressed in factors such as increased local  leadership; the sharing of knowledge and skills;  the development of local  solutions to issues; and building community capacity).

In 1997, costs were  $2 600 per CDEP participant per year.  Spicer  (1997)  recommended that this should  be increased to $10 000 per year  to take  account of training  and infrastructure development. At the same  time, he proposed that some  rationalisation should  occur  because, of the 274 organisations that were  part of the CDEP nationally, some  covered the same  areas  as others,  while some  were  as small  as only  13 people and so were  struggling. Even at this higher level,  using  the community economic multiplier figures  given  by Croft (1995),  a minimum benefit  of $1.96 for each  $1 funded  can be estimated (see  discussion of Local Exchange and Trading  Systems  in this chapter, below). In addition, the cost-benefits in relation  to health  and crime,  and the social  capital  gains  in aspects of stronger  communities could  also be expected to continue to grow.

Other studies  have  also identified issues  that are still to be addressed. In a case  study,  Moizo (1991)  identified that although some  economic autonomy had been  gained, there  were  also instances in which  the effect of CDEP had been  to separate businesses from the community. Bernard  (1997)  goes  further and argues that, in places the CDEP scheme has introduced a problematic element into Aboriginal culture  and self-determination by introducing a European model  of ‘work’.  This he says,  combines with the ‘workfare’ basis  of funding to disrupt Indigenous cultural  norms.  Spicer  (1997)  also details  concerns about  the ‘work-for-the-dole’ structure  of CDEP funding. Not only  does  this lead  to relatively low  levels  of income  for some Aboriginal people, but it also makes  connections between CDEP and the different  work-for- the-dole scheme that has been  introduced in the mainstream social  security system. Spicer argues that it would be better for both the CDEP and the mainstream social  security system (and  hence  wider  perceptions) to create  a great  divide  between the two by using  different terminology and approaches to the two schemes. It is also necessary to address the problems faced  by some  Aboriginal people who  may  be in the worst of both worlds  because they  are included in a scheme but not working and so lose  entitlement to either  wages or a pension(see  also Daly & Smith 1996, p. 371).  These  issues  are recognised in the ATSIC evaluation, and the study  also reported a need  for more  effective  communication between ATSIC and the local projects  (ATSIC 1997, pp. 19–21).

2.8   Rural communities

Landcare

Landcare  is ‘a community-based approach to fixing  environmental problems’ (Landcare 1999a, p. 1). Comprising over 4 250 groups  around  Australia,  the program  seeks to promote community, industry and government partnership in the management and preservation of natural  resources through  raising  awareness and building local  capacity to manage the land. These  groups  vary  from local  initiatives focused on specific  issues, through  to regional projects, and to national bodies that include the Landcare  Australia  Foundation and Landcare Australia  Limited. Unlike  most of the other programs discussed in this chapter, Landcare  does not address negative social  indicators, but it is a response to a major negative outcome for rural community wellbeing that impacts  on positive indicators—for example, land  degradation may  have  a deleterious effect on rural economic growth.

Funding  for Landcare  programs comes  from various  sources. Predominantly a combination of government and industry funding, in 1997 the total level  of income  to the program nationally was  $280 million.  An evaluation of the first decade of Landcare  suggests that the program  has been  successful in its environmental impact,  but perhaps as importantly in the community- building outcomes that have  been  achieved (Landcare, 1999b).  At the same  time, this review recognises that further work  must be done  in capacity building; the even  wider  acceptance of sustainable agricultural practices; and greater linkage between small  local  projects  and a wider regional vision.  A cost-benefit analysis of the Landcare  program was  not part of this review. Given the complex network of projects  and subprograms, such  an analysis would be extremely difficult  for Landcare  overall.

Community involvement and partnership with industry and government in Landcare  are the strengths  of the program. One in three  farmers  are members of Landcare  groups  (Martin & Halpin  1998).  Independent studies  of Landcare  have  shown  that the programs have  been  very successful in promoting local  participation and the use of best practice (Curtis & De Lacy 1998) and in developing local  leadership (Martin & Halpin  1998).  Studies  also sound  a cautionary note about  the way  in which  corporate sponsorship of Landcare  projects  is a success in itself, but it may  sometimes be a substitute for a more substantial review of the impact  of manufacturing practices on the environment (Lockie  1999).  Curtis and De Lacy (1998)  argue for further policy development to strengthen the community building and environmental achievements of the program.

Increasing research evidence points  to the importance of women’s leadership for the strengthening of rural communities (Walls  & Tanner  1994; Bourke  & Luloff 1997).  The view that ‘there  are no women out there’  wishing to take  on leadership roles  is countered by a weight of evidence that when  the right circumstances and opportunities are available, women in rural communities want  to be involved (Alston & Wilkinson 1998).  Indeed, women have often been  the community members that have  held  rural societies together  through  networking and local  community activity  (Alston 1995).

Haslam  McKenzie  notes  that rural women contributed approximately $9 billion  to Australian gross  national product  (GNP) in 1995–96 (1998,  p. 265).  However, beyond this ‘their contribution to social  capital  is immeasurable’. Women  in agriculture and rural industries, whether as single  farmers,  farming  with a husband or partner  or in other rural work,  frequently provide forms of leadership that are only  now  becoming recognised. In her case  studies, Haslam McKenzie  (1998)  identified as the outcomes of women’s leadership: the presence of a telecentre; a plan  for a locally-managed credit  union  to replace the bank  which  had closed  its branch;  promoting tourism  as a source  of local  economic activity,  and establishing a Business Development Group.  Despite  a series  of national reports  recognising the problems of women’s leadership being  blocked, excluded or ignored, Haslam  McKenzie  points  to a continuing need to find ways  of promoting opportunities for rural women to develop and/or exercise leadership (1998,  p. 267).  She argues that without  this, rural communities will  continue to decline rather  than to be strengthened.

Ferrari and McKinnon (1998)  summarise a series  of papers from the Second  International Conference on Women  in Agriculture. They note McGowan’s  work  with Women  in Agriculture, which  includes a program  of leadership workshops for women. Initial qualitative responses are that these  workshops provide considerable encouragement and capacity building for rural women. The program  ran until 2000 and a full evaluation was  not available at the time of writing.

Also included in this review is a summary of Scott’s work  in north-west NSW. This is a case study  of women’s economic and community leadership exemplified by Scott (who  was  ABC Woman  of the Year 1996 and Sydney Business Review Business Woman  of the Year 1997). While  not a program, this example illustrates several of the key  ‘strong  communities’ indicators, including the development of local  economic capacity, networks, voluntarism and best practice.

Studies  of women in rural leadership identify  continuing systemic and structural  issues  that exclude women from leadership to the detriment of country  Australia.  Although  it is difficult  to extrapolate cost-benefits, the centrality of women’s leadership for social  capital  building in rural communities is indisputable. This is underlined by the figures  for women’s visible  and invisible contribution to rural economies (and  hence  to the national economy) in leadership, direct  employed labour, unpaid domestic labour  and voluntary community effort.

Community Builders

IDEAS, a private  development company based  in York WA, describe Community Builders as ‘…a six month program  that seeks to identify, encourage and empower local  residents to become more involved in building their community and its economy’ (2000,  p. 1). The program  operates by identifying a team  of between two and five people. Each team  consults neighbours in its local  area  and then meets  on a monthly  basis  with other teams  in a ‘community cluster’  of between six and ten community teams.  Each cluster  is supported by a facilitator  who  acts as a coach  to assist  in the formulation of initiatives.

The principles of the program, which  are reflected in its objectives, are:

  • self-reliant attitudes  are fundamental to community change;
  • development of local  leadership is the key  to success;
  • local  solutions to local  problems are the most effective;
  • enhancing economic development leadership through  engagement with (best)  practice in economic development; and
  • partnership and networks are more  effective  than competition and are possible (IDEAS, 2000, p. 2).

These  principles clearly parallel the stronger  communities indicators identified in Chapter  1. As a program, Community Builders is also highly participative, as it requires engagement in a continuing series  of meetings, workshops and implementation in local  activity.  It is a voluntary movement and reflects  the spirit of ‘bottom-up’  process that is a central  feature  of much community development practice.

An evaluation of Community Builders has yet to be undertaken. However, the anecdotal qualitative evidence is that it is being  sought  by rural communities as a practical strategy for developing stronger  communities.

2.9   Community economic programs

Food-Share Australia

Food-Share Australia  is a self-help community development program that aims to assist  its participants to be of service  and add  value  to their local  community (Food-Share 1999). Targeted to people who  live on or below the poverty  line,  it provides $30 worth  of food each month to a person  who  contributes $15 and undertakes two hours  of voluntary service. A family  may  be involved in purchasing multiple units on a pro-rata  basis.  In addition to the receipt  of food, the participants may  access nutritional advice.

Food-Share is a registered charity  and a Public  Benevolent Institution.  Its start-up  costs have been  funded  by the New South Wales  Government (details not provided in available reference), in cash  and in kind,  and it has begun to receive wider  community support  from individuals and groups (also  both cash  and in kind). While  too new  to have  been  evaluated, this program does  evidence several of the ‘stronger  communities indicators’, including building capacity, promoting networks, supporting voluntarism and encouraging local  initiative.

Local Exchange and Trading Systems

Local Exchange and Trading  Systems  (LETS) are a coordinated means  by which  the interchange of goods  and services in a local  community can be harnessed to the ‘building and strengthening [of] people’s sense  of belonging to communities’ (Lang 1994, p. 4). It does  this by creating a system  based  on a local  alternative to the mainstream economy. The nominal value  of exchange is defined in units (many of which  are given  colourful local  names). The basic  premises of these  systems, however, prevent the medium of exchange from becoming a shadow currency (which is, in fact, illegal in most countries where these  systems  have developed). These  premises are:

  • non-profit  making;
  • no compulsion to trade  (voluntarism);
  • information about  balances open  to all members;
  • the LETS unit is equated to national currency (most but not all systems); and
  • no interest  is charged or paid.

Coordination of a system  is seen  as work  undertaken, and so is ‘paid’  in LETS units raised  from members’ subscriptions.

The important  core of LETS is that the tangible exchange that is taking  place  is the result  of people’s efforts of within  the same  community. This is described by its advocates as an inclusive aspect  of the systems, because it allows people to participate both in giving  (‘selling’) and receiving (‘buying’) who  might be excluded by the formal economy. Members  do not leave  the formal economy, and the LETS transactions are included in tax declarations in countries such  as the United  Kingdom,  Canada and Australia.  In the United  Kingdom  they  are included in social  security assessments, while in Australia  they  are exempt (Lang 1994, pp. 117–24; Williams  1995, p. 18). In neither  country  does  participation in LETS excuse a person from seeking work  if in receipt  of unemployment benefits, but the schemes are accepted as a means  by which  people maintain their skills  and stay in touch  with the formal labour  market.

LETS are described by their proponents as good  for national economies, through  the benefits created for local  economies and communities. Williams  (1995,  p. 5) points  to the development of community; the development of resilience in local  economies; and assistance for people to maintain and improve  their skills  and self-esteem and so being  able  to participate more in community building. Croft (1995,  pp. 36–8) goes  further,  and argues that where local  trading may  have  a multiplier effect of $1.41 value  for every  $1 initially spent  buying locally, LETS creates  an equivalent (some  of which  will  be returned to the formal economy) of $1.96 for every $1 spent.  The benefits  of stronger  community arising  from the social  capital  accrued can be estimated to make  the real  value  even  higher.

Local empowerment/enterprise zones

The Empowerment Zone/Enterprise  Initiative  is a US program, which  has been  implemented in 126 urban  and rural areas.  It is aimed  at regeneration of declining communities through  tax incentives, performance grants  and loans  to promote  local  economic activity  (United  States Department of Housing  and Urban Development 1999).  Although  this is a federal government program, the role of government is to coordinate and support  local  participation by bringing together  community and industry in an integrated and comprehensive way  (Walker & Weinheimer 1998).  It thus differs from previous enterprise development programs in its community-based focus and the emphasis on local  initiative and action.

There is already evidence that the empowerment zones  are meeting the goals  of creating economic opportunities through  encouraging local  economic capacity and community initiative. The inclusion of community members in key  elements of the program is a crucial factor (Detroit Empowerment Zone Transition  Office (DETZO) 1999).  Difficulties  in the evaluation of the program  include a tendency to concentrate on outputs  (the amount  of work produced) rather  than outcomes (the achievement of results  measured against objectives) (United  States General  Accounting Office 1996).  Little evaluation has actually been  done,  and some  problems have  emerged such  as an overstatement of non-government funding and inaccuracies in the reporting of achievements (Ryan  1998).  Nonetheless, the Detroit zone  has reported outcomes of increased economic opportunity, improvements in the sustainability of communities and some  restoration of neighborhoods (DETZO 1999).

Community Business Partnership

The Community Business Partnership program is an Australian initiative, launched by the Prime Minister in 1999 (Department of Family  and Community Services 1999a).  The program seeks to foster partnerships of mutual  benefit  and for the benefit  of the community. Such partnerships are based  around the involvement of business with a variety  of community projects,  in partnership with the non-government not-for-profit  sector  and community groups. In particular, the program  aims to identify  incentives to a philanthropic approach on the part of business, and where necessary to devise relevant ways  of addressing disincentives.

Best practice examples are provided in the listing  of the most outstanding partnerships in 1999, as reflected in the Prime Minister’s Awards  for Community Business partnerships (FaCS, 1999b). The 20 projects  to win  awards in 1999 encompassed a wide  range  of community issues, including:

  • family  support  services
  • employment for disabled people
  • community sports for youth
  • community economic and enterprise development
  • community law  centre
  • youth  employment and training
  • environmental and landcare projects

In each  case  the partnership engages the interest  and support  of businesses while supporting the management of projects  by community groups  and non-government bodies. As a new program there  is no formal evaluation yet,  but the early  evidence is that the partners  all regard the arrangements as successful.

Volunteering

Many of the different  programs and projects  included in this report  incorporate an aspect  of voluntarism in their approach. Some are entirely focused on volunteers. This is important, in that the notion  of civil society  includes voluntarism as a key  element and some  recent evidence suggests a ‘depletion’ of voluntary contributions in western societies (see  Chapter  1). Beyond the incorporation of volunteering within  programs, volunteering is also a focus for specific  attention  in its own  right as a contributor to the building of social  capital. The national peak  body  in this sector  is Volunteering Australia,  which  also has constituent state and territory affiliate  associations. These  organisations exist  to promote  volunteering and to support  a wide variety  of community effort in which  volunteers are used.  Volunteering Australia  promotes clear  definitions and principles of volunteering, which  are grounded in the idea  of civil society (Volunteering Australia,  no date).  These  are:

  • volunteering benefits  the community and the volunteer;
  • volunteer work  is unpaid;
  • volunteering is always a matter of choice;
  • volunteering is a legitimate way  in which  citizens  can participate in their community;
  • volunteering is an activity  that is performed in the not-for-profit  sector  only;
  • volunteering is not a substitute for paid  work;
  • volunteers do not replace paid  workers or threaten  job security;
  • volunteering respects the rights,  dignity and culture  of others;  and
  • volunteering promotes  human  rights and equality.

Volunteering Australia  argues that these  principles are important  because, without  them,  the contribution of volunteering to civil society  is undermined. The notion  of volunteering is incompatible with coercion, unpaid labour  for the profit of someone else  or as a means  of intervention in industrial disputes (see  also Lyons 1997; Hudson  1998).

Some critical  research has suggested that volunteers are more  likely to be members of groups within  communities who  are otherwise absent  from the labour  market  (whether by choice  or not).  In particular, large  numbers of volunteers are seniors  (of both sexes) and younger women (Warburton 1997; Baldock 1998).  However, such  research also shows  that there  is a significant difference between volunteering and ‘unwaged work’  that makes  volunteering a strong  contributor to various  aspects of communities (Kerr & Savelsberg 1996).  This derives from the sense  of ‘volition’  or willingness inherent in voluntary effort compared to the compulsion of necessity implied in the idea  of ‘unwaged work’  (see  the discussion about social  capital  in Chapter  1). Volunteering has declined slightly  in Australia  in the last decade (Lyons  & Fabiansson 1998),  although it remains an essential part of the life of many communities and a source  of community service  (Jamrozik 1996).  There is broad  agreement that volunteering can be nurtured with appropriate responses from government and business. These  include the valuing of volunteer effort; recognising that volunteering is complementary to (and  not a replacement for) paid  employment in the delivery of community services; and that volunteering is clearly distinguished from any  compulsory activity  (such  as ‘work  for the dole’  or ‘community service  orders’).

The cost of coordination, training  and managing volunteering is difficult  to determine, although the benefits  of specific  programs to develop and maintain volunteering are clearly evident in studies  such  as that by Jamrozik  (1996)  and Lyons and Fabiansson (1998).  A more detailed cost-benefit analysis cannot  be undertaken at this time. The cost-benefits of some specific  volunteer programs are noted  under  other headings (see  chapters 3, 4 and 5 ). The wider  benefits  for communities from volunteering identified in these  studies  not only  include the exchange of skills  and ideas  and the networking that is inherent in organised voluntary service, but also gains  in local  leadership and in the development of local  solutions to local problems.

2.10 Community wellbeing—conclusion

This chapter  has shown  that there  is increasing recognition of the importance of community participation and the role that community groups play  in developing strong  and healthy communities. The building of trust and reciprocity leads  to an increase in social  capital, which is an important  ingredient of positive community functioning. There is significant research to support  the notion  that people with diverse networks of quality relationships are healthier than people who  are socially isolated. In this context,  health  refers to the physical, mental  and social  wellbeing of people.

A key  to building stronger  communities is to have  structures  in place  to identify  community leaders and other highly-motivated community members. Community-building projects  are improved where the inputs  of relevant professionals working in the community are mobilised and where these  skills  are utilised in a multi-disciplinary framework. The building of social capital  through  community-based programs is also facilitated where opportunities exist:

  • to enable skill  development in areas  such  as organising groups, running meetings, lobbying, writing  grant applications, and so on;
  • to enable the identification of funding sources and the capacity to bid for these  funds;  and
  • to build  better links  with other community groups and organisations; to publicise achievements; and,  in turn to access information about  other communities’ achievements.
Table 1: Summary of community wellbeing programs reviewed
Program/ Project Title Program/ Project Description 1 Target Community/ Group 2 Funding  sources Project Costs 3 Outcomes4 Evaluation5 Contact Details
Health Development and Social Capital  Project Review  programs in western suburbs of Adelaide, SA, looking at individuals and community groups. Residents  of western suburbs in Adelaide. Research project funding from National Health and Medical  Research Council. (from programs studied) Social  indicators: increased social  capital. Strong communities’ indicators: knowledge/skills and volunteering; networks and partnerships in communities; leadership in communities; local  solutions to local problems; community capacity to use best practice Qualitative data  only, no cost-benefit analysis. SA Community Health  Research Unit, Flinders University.
NSW Dept. of Housing — Neighbourhood Improvement Program Cost-benefit analysis of objectives of planned intervention for community development program in Airds, NSW Residents of Airds, NSW. NSW State Government. $100 million over 13 years projected outcomes) Social indicators: strengthened local economic capacity; reduced crime; reduced welfare dependency; better health outcomes; reduced longterm unemployment; increased social capital. Strong communities’ indicators: networks and partnerships in communities, leadership in communities, local solutions to local problems, community capacity to use best practice Quantitative and qualitative data reported. Cost-benefit ratio of between $6 for each $1 spent (short-term) and $17 for each $1 (long-term) — projected. NSW Department of Housing.
WACOSS Housing Report Analysis of three programs to support WA tenants in difficulties. Residents in WA. State and federal government, figures not stated. Social indicators: strengthened local economic capacity; reduced crime; better health outcomes. Stronger communities’ indicators: local solutions to local problems. Qualitative and quantitative. Costbenefit figures not available. WACOSS, 2 Delphi Street, West Perth. WA 6005
Community Research Project Eighty (80) community projects to improve social circumstances of lowincome families. Australia (national). Households on low incomes. Department of Social Security $18 000 average per project Social indicators: strengthened local economic capacity;, reduced welfare dependency;, better health outcomes;, reduced long-term unemployment;, increased social capital. Strong communities’ indicators: networks and partnerships in communities, local solutions to local problems; volunteering, leadership in communities Quantitative and qualitative data reported. No precise cost-benefit analysis. Department of Social Security
Community Consortium Middle School A program involving a partnership between the high school and twelve community social service agencies that commenced in Aurora, USA in 1996 High-school students. Fund were raised through local council funds and grants to the value of US$35 000 for the first year of the project. Stronger communities’ indicators: networks and partnerships in communities Not known from the material cited N/A
Parent Involvement Program A program aimed at increasing parent participation in schools, based in Aurora, USA. Elementary school students. Not known from the information cited. Social indicators: reduced absenteeism. Stronger communities’ indicators: networks and partnerships in communities Not known from the material cited. N/A
Communities that Care Increasing community resilience and developing community mobilisation, Seattle and Oregon, US. Increasing community resilience, Melbourne VIC. Residents in target communities Data not reported. Social indicators: strengthened local economic capacity; reduced long-term unemployment; increased social capital. Strong communities indicators: knowledge/skills and volunteering; networks and partnerships in communities; leadership in communities; local solutions to local problems, community capacity to use best practice. A great deal of qualitative and descriptive evaluation. Some quantitative material is available, but costbenefit analyses have not been published in any of the literature cited. Prof. Richard Catalano, School of Social Work, University of Washington, Seattle, US.
Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) Community-based projects to assist Indigenous Australian communities to develop autonomous economic activity (national). Members of Indigenous communities who would be eligible for unemployment benefits. Pooling of unemployment benefits plus capital and recurrent running costs of projects. $2 600 per person per year (1997 figure). Government-funded, plus commercial loans Social indicators: strengthened local economic capacity; reduced welfare dependency; reduced long-term unemployment; increased social capital. Stronger communities’ indicators: knowledge and skill; networks and partnerships; leadership in communities; local solutions to local problems; community capacity to use best practice. Social indicators: strengthened local economic capacity; reduced welfare dependency; reduced long-term unemployment; increased social capital. Stronger communities’ indicators: knowledge and skill; networks and partnerships; leadership in communities; local solutions to local problems; community capacity to use best practice. ATSIC.
Landcare Community-based approach to fixing environmental problems. Australia (national). Open membership, heavily represented among rural primary industry and other rural communities Federal government and business grant funding. Social indicators: increased local economic capacity; increased social capital. Stronger communities’ indicators: volunteering; networks and partnerships; leadership in communities; local solutions to local problems; community capacity to use best practice. Primarily qualitative in terms of social evaluation (impact on communities). Landcare.
Women in Agriculture Program to develop and support leadership skills among women working in the farming sector. Australia (national). Women working in the farming sector. Not available from the literature cited Social indicators: increased local economic capacity; increased social capital. Stronger communities’ indicators: knowledge and skill including volunteering; networks and partnerships; leadership in communities; community capacity to use best practice. Qualitative, in progress. C. McGowan, Women in Agriculture— e-mail: cmcgowan@ albury.net.au
Community Builders Program to develop leadership and partnership in rural economic development Members of rural communities. Not available from the source cited. Social indicators: increased local economic capacity; increased social capital. Stronger communities’ indicators: knowledge and skill including volunteering; networks and partnerships in communities; leadership in communities; local solutions to local problems; community capacity to use best practice. Qualitative. Ideas Inc., York. WA.
Food-Share Australia Program to support lowincome individuals and families through food subsidies integrated with support for voluntary community effort, Sydney, NSW Individuals and families on low incomes State government seed grant, with community and business partnership funds, plus part contribution by participants. Project costs not available. Social indicators: reduced welfare dependency; increased social capital. Stronger communities’ indicators: knowledge and skill including volunteering; networks and partnerships; leadership in communities; local solutions to local problems. Qualitative, in progress. Food-Share Australia,
Local Exchange and Trading Systems (LETS) Community voluntary networks of neighbours who exchange goods and services through a local non-monetary system Anyone in a community who wishes to participate Unfunded. On-going ‘costs’ of running a scheme are included as voluntary effort and ‘reimbursed’ accordingly. Trades and exchanges may be given nominal cash equivalent value based on local market rates. Social indicators: strengthened local economic capacity; increased social capital. Stronger communities’ indicators: knowledge and skills including volunteering; networks and partnerships; leadership in communities; local solutions to local problems; community use of best practice. Qualitative and quantitative. Costbenefit of $1.96 for each $1 spent (as calculated by Croft 1995, on the basis of a multiplier effect on local economic activity, priced at market equivalent values). Not available.
Local Empowerment/ Enterprise Zones Structured government intervention through tax incentives, grants and loans to promote local business and community development, US. Urban and rural areas with high indicators of community need. Government, industry and private philanthropy in partnership. Exact figures not provided (vary by program). Emphasis on corporate foundations and private philanthropists Social indicators: strengthened local economic capacity; reduced crime; reduced welfare dependency; increased social capital. Strong communities indicators: networks and partnerships in communities; leadership in communities; local solutions to local problems. Quantitative and qualitative. Averaged over $25 million per year through 1990s. Cost-benefit analysis not available. Not available.
Community Business Partnership To promote partnership between industry and the nongovernment welfare sector, Australia (national). Businesses and non-government welfare agencies. Minimal government funding (BUT THERE WAS OVER 13 MILLION DOLLARS FOR THE PROGRAM OVER FOUR YEARS) for co-ordination and publicity, with funds going direct from business to community service agencies Social indicators: increased social capital. Stronger communities’ indicators: volunteering; partnerships in communities; local solutions to local problems. Yet to be undertaken. Cost-benefit not available. Department of Family and Community Services. Philanthropy Australia.
Volunteering Australia National co-coordinating body for state organisations to promote volunteering across all sectors of the community, Australia. Anyone who is interested in volunteering or in using volunteers in a community project. Federal Government(*CHECK EDIT) Social indicators: increased social capital. Stronger communities’ indicators: knowledge and skills including volunteering; networks and partnerships in communities; leadership in communities; local solutions to local problems. Qualitative. Cost-benefit analysis not available. Volunteering Australia, Floor 4 Ross House, 247-251 Flinders Lane, Melbourne. VIC 3184
  1. Description of project  aima  and location. Pilot, one-off,  or on-going. Project length.
  2. By geographic location/region and/or community of interest.
  3. Name of funding program/s  or funding sources, total project  costs (direct  and indirect).
  4. General  effectiveness/outcomes as well  as social  indicators and stronger  communities indicators.
  5. Quantitative and/or qualitative evaluation. Availability of cost-benefit data.

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3. Early childhood and families

The available literature clearly establishes the benefits  of community-based early  childhood and family  prevention and intervention programs. This includes in terms of both the dollar value  of many  of the programs, as well  as in building stronger  and healthier families, and in turn, communities (Greenwood 1999; Bright 1997; Morrison et al. 1997; Tomison  &Wise 1999; McCain & Mustard,  1999).

There has been  increasing recognition that a child’s  development in the first few years  of life sets the foundation for lifelong learning, behaviour and health  (McCain  &Mustard 1999; Greenwood 1999).  Investment in early  childhood development has been  found  to ‘increase the efficiency of primary-school investments and human  capital  formation,  foster valued social behaviour, reduce social  welfare costs, stimulate community development, and help  mothers become income  earners’ (Young, 1997, cited  in McCain & Mustard  1999, p. 330).

The significance of education in helping to reduce the effects of socio-economic disadvantage and difference has also been  emphasised (Tomison  &Wise 1999),  as has the positive effects of holistic  and community-based approaches (Bright  1997; Morrison et al. 1997; 1999; Tomison &Wise 1999; McCain & Mustard  1999).

A note of caution  has been  consistently made, warning that disadvantages experienced by children, families  and the community will  not be solved  by ameliorative programs alone  and that structural  causes must also be addressed (Tomison  &Wise 1999; Zigler & Styfco 1996; Greenwood 1999; Bright 1997).  Further notes  of caution  have  been  that the effectiveness of community-based programs should  not lead  to the replacement of individually-targeted programs (Tomison  & Wise 1999; Bright 1997; McCain & Mustard  1999; Zigler & Styfco 1996). Also, while providing prevention services can reduce the need  for spending on compensatory and remedial services, not all social  expenditures are preventable or can be eliminated. Not all prevention efforts will  reach  those  who  need  them,  or will  always be successful with those that they  reach  (Iowa  Kids Count Initiative  1993).  The importance of combined, comprehensive approaches consistently underpinned these  comments. A range  of literature emphasised the need  for targeted programs to at-risk  groups. At the same  time, programs were being  expanded to be community-based with aims to change the developmental system  and build  healthy communities rather  than be purely individual-based interventions (Bright  1997; Cox 1997; Morrison et al. 1997, p. 532; Tomison  & Wise,  1999).

Over the years, a number of approaches have  been  developed with increased emphasis on the merits  of community-based approaches which  foster social  networks and strengthen partnerships (Bright  1997; Tomison  &Wise 1999).  The need  to reduce risk factors and strengthen protective (resiliency) factors for children at risk has also been  a consistent theme. There has been  a groundswell of support  for emphasis on holistic  prevention strategies and integrated whole-of-community approaches (Watchel 1994; Hay & Jones  1994; United  States’ (US) Advisory  Board  on Child Abuse  and Neglect  1993; Tomison  1997; New South Wales (NSW) Child Protection  Council  1997; National  Crime Prevention 1999, cited  in Tomison  & Wise,  1999, p. 2). There  was  also broad  recognition that coordinated services can better meetthe needs of children and their families  and stretch  available funds through,  for example, the pooling of resources (Morrison  et al. 1997, p. 531; McCain & Mustard  1999; Tomison  & Wise 1999).

Key settings  for programs have  included—kindergarten, schools, child  care  centres  and other community settings. Of note is that schools  were  a key  community setting  for many  early childhood and family  programs. Programs  have  focused on a range  of areas  including early childhood development; child  abuse/maltreatment preventions and interventions; education including children at-risk  interventions; and family  support  interventions. Depending on the target  group/s,  program  aims and approaches adopted, there  is inevitable overlap among programs in their setting  and focus.

Specific  program  examples are discussed, as well  as broad  and recurring themes  that link with building stronger  communities.

3.1   Early childhood development

The Iowa’s  Kids Count Initiative  (1993,  1995) was  part of an effort to develop an Iowa Blueprint Investment Strategy for Iowa’s  young people. (See  chapter  2). The initiative produced a working paper  that identified what  Iowa  social  expenditures were  preventable and what  increased economic activity  was  possible if very  young children started  their lives  more likely to achieve their full potential. As part of this process, costs that could  be associated with a lack  of developmental supports and nurturing in the early  years  were  summarised as including:

  • untreated health  conditions;
  • neurological disorders and associated costs;
  • emergency room costs;
  • special education expenditures;
  • grade  retention and associated costs;
  • school  dropout  costs, lack  of employability, and costs in lost economic activity;
  • child  abuse and maltreatment intervention costs (including foster treatment costs);
  • juvenile delinquency and associated costs;
  • welfare dependency and associated costs;
  • homelessness and associated costs;
  • mental  illness  and associated costs; and
  • adult  criminal behaviour and incarceration costs, as well  as crime-associated costs (1993, pp.19,  23).

The Iowa  Kids Count Initiative  calculated that if prevention initiatives reduced the social  costs associated with preventable poor outcomes by just five per cent,  then public  savings on compensatory, remediation and rehabilitation services, maintenance and basic  needs programs and social  control  and public  protection would be more  than US$108 million.  The estimated savings outweighed the amount  invested at that time in prevention and early  intervention services by more  than five times.  The savings would have  been  even  greater  if an increased proportion of preventable outcomes were  achieved, and/or if other potential gains  to society were  factored  in, such  as increased tax revenues from a more  skilled and productive workforce (Iowa  Kids Count Initiative  1993, 1995).

While  few actual  cost estimates were  available for the specific  preventable social  expenditures such  as those  outlined in the Iowa  Kids Count Initiative,  costs of child  abuse and neglect in Australia  were  obtained. A cost estimate was  for annual (1995–96)  fiscal and economic expenditure on child  abuse and neglect in South Australia  (SA) (South  Australia  Office for Families  and Children  and the Australian Institute  of Family  Studies  1999).  A lack  of specific data relating to inadequate reporting systems  meant  that economic cost estimates relied  heavily on estimates of both the incidence of abuse and actual  expenditure.

Only expenditure incurred directly (or likely to be incurred) and immediately attributable to child  maltreatment was  included, meaning that final calculations did not include expenditures such  as for services to adults  as a result  of their experience of abuse as children. Estimates were  made  where exact  data  could  not be extracted. The instance of child  abuse formally reported was  estimated at to be between 0.8 and 1.6 per cent,  although it was  noted  that the incidence of child  abuse and neglect is generally recognised to be much  greater  than those reported. Based  on this, an estimate of a five per cent incidence of child  abuse and neglect was  made, but this was  seen  as a conservative estimate.

Total expenditure in SA was  estimated as $354.92  million.  This comprised $51.59  million expenditure for responding to known incidences of child  abuse and neglect ($41.41  million) and for expenditure in responding to child  abuse and neglect not reported to child  protection services ($10.18  million). The costs for responding to abuse-related child  deaths, disability, injury  and impairment were  calculated to be $303.33  million.  A comparison is drawn  between these  total costs and other budget areas, as a measure of the relative magnitude of potential savings through  an effective  prevention program. It was  also noted  that child  maltreatment absorbs  more  than the state earned from major exports  in wine  ($318.46  million) and wool and sheepskin ($239.86) in the same  fiscal year.

To help  with forecasting future  cost estimates, the South Australian report  recommends that measures be implemented to improve  recording on service  demand and expenditure on child abuse and neglect. It also recommends that a minimum additional expenditure of one per cent of the total amount  of child  maltreatment costs to the state ($3.5  million) be made  in an extended prevention program. In terms of potential gains  by commercial standards, this was seen  to represent a modest  investment.

The New South Wales  (NSW) Department of Housing  produced some  social  cost estimates for its case  study  on the Airds neighbourhood (Stubbs  & Storer 1996).  Some of these  costs are cited elsewhere in this report.  A cost more relevant to this chapter  includes family  stress.  This was  estimated as the direct  costs of entry  into care  and costs per notification incident for the NSW Department of Community Services’ Campbelltown Community Service  Centre.  The annual budget for the centre  was  taken  and divided by the number of children in care  to produce a cost of $3 660 per entry  into care  per child.  Similarly, the centre’s  annual budget less substitute care  and cash  grants  was  divided by the number of notifications to provide a cost of $2 215 per notification incident. This then allowed a cost to be calculated for a particular locality based  on the unit cost being  multiplied by the incidence of notifications for the area.

A summary of a report  Investing in Our Children: What we Know and Don’t Know about the Costs and Benefits of Early Childhood Interventions is reported on in Greenwood (1999). Unfortunately, the original report  could  not be obtained for this project  and the summary lacked program  details. Nevertheless, the summary provides some  data  worth  noting.  Through a critical  review of relevant literature, the report  examined a range  of early  intervention programs to assess  whether targeted children and their families  benefited, and whether government funds invested early  in the lives  of children would yield  compensating decreases in government expenditure. This led to the conclusion that early  interventions do provide significant benefits  to children and their families. The report  also made  findings  that early interventions might save  some  children and their parents  from incurring state expenditures from criminal justice,  welfare and other costs (the report  did not extend its claims  to all types of early  interventions). Also noted  were  limitations of evidence collected to date  and how improved evaluations would be of value. Nine programs were  reviewed in the report (unfortunately, no program details  were  provided in the summary paper) and found  to lead  to the following advantages for participants compared to control  group  members:

  • increased child  development (emotional or cognitive), typically in the short term or improved parent-child relationships;
  • improved educational process and outcomes for the child;
  • increased economic self-sufficiency, initially for the parent  and later for the child  (through increased incomes stemming from increased labor  force participation and decreased welfare dependency);
  • decreased criminal activity;  and
  • improved health-related indicators such  as child  abuse, maternal reproductive health, and substance abuse (Greenwood 1999, p. 1).

These  factors are consistent with outcomes reported, for example the Iowa  Kids Count Initiative  and other programs reviewed in this chapter.

The Early Years Study

The Early Years Study is a comprehensive, 200-plus  page  report,  commissioned by the Ontario  government in 1998 (McCain  & Mustard  1999) focusing  on children in the early  years (aged 0 to 6). The Study  sought  to learn  more  about  how  government, communities and parents  could  positively affect young people’s lives  and how  young people could  be better prepared for life success (in school,  their careers and society). Whilst not providing a cost benefit  analysis, important  background information is provided in this report.

The study  sought  to learn  about  how  the lives  of young children, including those  with special needs or at-risk  could  be enhanced for educational, career  and social  success. It confirmed that the better the nurturing and learning experience in early  childhood involving parents  or other primary  caregivers, the better the outcomes. These  findings  covered all socio-economic groups in society. It also found  that the early  childhood years  and childhood development was  equal to, or in some  cases  of greater  importance in long-term impacts  on people’s lives  than the time spent  in education or post-secondary education. However, it noted  that expenditures for early childhood are far outweighed by expenditures for older  children and adults.

For example, with the overall  provincial expenditure on programs for children up to 18 years  in Canada at C$17 billion,  the annual average expenditure per child  for children up to six was approximately $2 800, compared to approximately $7 250 per year  for children aged  six to 18. Less than a third of expenditure on the below-six age  group  was  for ‘universal’ programs, with the remainder for treatment-based programs for children with problems. The study  found  that the programs lacked a cohesive system  to meet  the diversity of needs, and that whilst  excellent initiatives existed, they  did not meet  the needs of all families  with preschool children. One of the key  conclusions was  that investment in the earlier years  is more  cost-effective than remedial programs later in life seeking to address problems stemming from poor early development.

The study  outlined key  research on brain  development and early  childhood development, and the effects of the early  years  on learning, behaviour and health  throughout life. It examined the socio-economic context  and how  Ontario  children were  faring.  The mismatch between opportunity and investment in the early  years  was  highlighted and the importance of building on what  is working in communities was  discussed.

The study  outlined recent  early  childhood program  initiatives and incentives for early childhood development in Ontario  (pp.  105–26).  Financial details  were  provided for some programs and incentives, although the examination did not extend to a cost-benefit analysis and insufficient detail  was  provided to merit their inclusion here.  Follow  up of these  initiatives may  be warranted at a later stage.

The study  also found  that increased community-based initiatives and investment (both  public and private) would enhance communities through  a range  of effective  strategies. A number of effective  strategies for providing community-based early  childhood programs were  suggested (pp.  131–45):

  • building on existing community strengths;
  • a coherent and comprehensive approach;
  • collaboration;
  • integration of government services and programs with community-based initiatives (public and private  sector);
  • respecting diversity and local  initiative;
  • empowering community leadership;
  • providing universal systems  and targeting at-risk  groups  from within  these  systems; and
  • not increasing resources for early  year’s  programs at the expense of disadvantaged older children.

The study  recommended a comprehensive early  childhood development framework involving early  childhood development and parenting programs across  all socio-economic groups (pp.  147–72).

3.2   Child abuse/maltreatment

Figures  collated by the Australian Institute  of Health  and Welfare  (AIHW) (1999)  indicate the incidence of child  abuse/maltreatment. For 1997–98,  the AIHW estimated child  abuse and neglect in Australia  to total 98 613 notifications (involving 77 399 children) and 26 025 substantiations (involving 21 772 children). Substantiations varied  in severity, ranging from classifications of severe to having  causing significant harm,  causing moderate harm and posing no further risk. Only cases  substantiated by community service  departments were  included and unreported incidents or incidents reported to other agencies were  not included in the data. This indicates that the figures  are greater.

The highest proportion of children who  were  the subject  of substantiation was  in the age groups 5 to 9 years  and 10 to 14 years. A relatively high  proportion was  also noted  for children under  one year.  Notably,  Indigenous children experienced a markedly higher  rate of child  abuse and neglect for all states  and territories  except Tasmania. The average rate of 46.4 per 1 000 children aged  0 to 16 years  for Indigenous children compared to a rate of 5.6 per 1 000 for other children. Data also indicated that the incidence of child  abuse and neglect is greater  in sole-parent families. The AIHW saw  this as a reflection of the fact that sole parents  were  more  likely to be on low  incomes, to be financially stressed and to have  less support  available in their immediate family.  The institute  noted  other data  which  suggested that families  with low  socio-economic status are most likely to be involved in a substantiation of child  abuse and neglect.

Child protection orders  in Australia  were  also quantified by the institute  and calculated to be 16 449 as at 30 June 1998 (an increase of 731 on the previous year). This equates to a rate of 3.5 children per 1 000 children aged  0 to 17 years. The living  arrangements for these  children were  85 per cent living  in home-based care  (34 per cent living  in family  care  (not reimbursed) and 51 per cent living  in reimbursed home  based  care  such  as foster care); and 15 per cent living  in out-of-home care  (10 per cent in facility-based care  and four per cent living  in other arrangements, including independent living). Again,  the rate for Indigenous children who were  on care  and protection orders  was  15.5 per 1 000 children and five times the average rate for other children (3.0 per 1 000).  Indigenous children were  also more  likely to be placed in out-of-home care  with a rate of 14.2 children per 1 000 in Australia  as at 30 June 1998 and more  than five times the rate for other children (2.6 per 1 000).

The above  figures  support  the literature on child  abuse/maltreatment. Mulroy  (1997,  cited  in Tomison  & Wise 1999) noted  that child  maltreatment is complex and associated with other problems including poverty, mental  illness, substance abuse, domestic violence, unemployment and lack  of social  support. The social  problems stemming from child  abuse/ maltreatment have  also been  noted  in other research. For example, in the Iowa  Kids Count Initiative  the consensus among  child  psychology and development workers was  that signs  of abuse in the early  years  are forewarnings of involvement in foster care  and juvenile justice systems  later on. The initiative also noted  that significant numbers (25 to 55 per cent)  of institutionalised juvenile offenders  had histories  of child  abuse occurring early  in life and that the majority  of adult  prisoners were  from dysfunctional families  where consistent support  and nurturing was  lacking (Iowa  Kids Count Initiative  1993).  Werner  & Smith (1992,  cited  in McDonald  et al. 1997 and Tomison  & Wise 1999) identified distinctions between children who overcome risk factors and those  who  did not in a thirty-year longitudinal study.  A relationship with a significant adult  family  member  and a caring  relationship with an adult  in the community were  identified as two critical  protective factors that promote  resilience among vulnerable children throughout their lives.

To address primary  and underpinning issues, a holistic,  community-based approach is advocated by Tomison  and Wise.  It is also advocated as a cost-effective means  of service delivery through  mechanisms such  as pooling of resources. Tomison  and Wise (1999)  discuss community-based approaches in preventing child  maltreatment at length. They outline  three theoretical constructs  that underpin the development of a holistic  approach in recent  years  in Australia  and overseas. These  include:

  • ecological theories of child  maltreatment causation, recognising that causes of child  abuse and maltreatment are complex and multi-dimensional and underpinned by a number of individual, social  and community factors (Garbarino 1977; Belsky 1980; National  Research Council  1993, cited  in Tomison  &Wise 1999);
  • the identification of key  risk and resiliency (protective) factors that influence children, family  and community vulnerability to child  maltreatment and other social  ills; and
  • the importance of the local  community and the development of the concept of social  capital (Tomison  & Wise 1999, p. 2).

Tomison  and Wise (1999,  p. 3) refer to some  specific  Australian initiatives, which  develop the concept of resilience as valuable in promoting healthy communities. These  include The University of Newcastle Family  Action Centre  project  in collaboration with Professor  John DeFrain to develop a measure of resiliency in Australia,  as well  as the Hawkin and Catalano Communities that Care model  implementation in Victoria (see  chapter  2).

Sydney neighbourhood study

Whilst not examining any  programs in detail  that warrant  a cost-benefit analysis, Tomison  and Wise (1999)  do refer to a study  with some  positive indications of the effects of strong communities. A study  by Vinson et al. (1996)  of two adjoining neighbourhoods in Sydney iscited.  The neighbourhoods were  determined as both economically depressed and displaying differing  rates of child  maltreatment. The study  looked at reasons for the differences in child maltreatment rates and found  a major difference to be the structure  of social  networks within the neighbourhood. Parents  in the neighbourhood with the higher  rate of abuse were  found  to have  less social  networks and community links.  This, and other research, has emphasised the value  of enhancing a sense  of community and building networks and informal  support  systems in the prevention of child  abuse and maltreatment (Vinson  et al. 1996; United  States (US) National  Commission on Children  1991, cited  in Tomison  & Wise 1999).

Similar  to the Early Years Study, Tomison  and Wise (1999)  expand on these  themes  to note that effective  programs to meet  the needs of children and families  comprise a combined approach involving partnerships. This includes universal services to reduce the effects of maltreatment in early  development stages  (the earlier the better)  through  improving parenting skills  and reducing risks,  and targeting services to those  most at risk or who  are being maltreated.

The approaches advocated in the above  research appear to varying extents  in the programs outlined below.

3.3   Education—school-based programs

School-based programs featured heavily in the literature. Given that every  child  links  with the school  system  and schools  are the primary  place  for families  with school-age children to meet and interact,  this is not surprising. Tomison  and Wise (1999)  noted  that schools  offer a key setting  for the prevention of social  ills and general health  promotion. McDonald  et al. (1997) noted  that low-income families  could  be provided opportunities through  schools  to become contributing members of the community.

The High/Scope Perry Preschool Study and Project Head Start

It would be remiss  not to mention  two of the earliest intervention programs—the High/Scope Perry Preschool Study  and Project Head  Start. Despite  originating more  than thirty years  ago, these  continue to be cited  in literature as best practice models or significantly influencing the development of early  intervention programs (McCain  & Mustard  1999; Bright 1997; Iowa  Kids Count Initiative  1993; Tomison  & Wise 1999) and Project Head  Start (McCain  & Mustard  1999; Tomison  &Wise 1999).  Both projects  have  been  extensively reviewed and evaluated including a cost-benefit analysis of the Perry Project with very  positive results.  Brief details  for each project  are provided below.

High/Scope Perry Preschool Study

This study  is widely referenced by others  in the field,  noting  that it is a program that has significantly shaped early  intervention strategies (Tomison  & Wise 1999, p. 7). It is one of the few studies  to have  examined the link between preschool education and reduced delinquency(Bright  1997 p. 50) and developed estimates of the cost-effectiveness of high  quality early childhood development programs (Iowa  Kids Count Initiative  1993, p.21).

The Perry Study  was  a preschool education program that commenced in the early  1960s with a curriculum focus that enabled children to participate in an active  approach to learning, facilitated by well-trained teachers. To reinforce the school  curriculum at home,  home  visiting was  another  component of the program.

Longitudinal studies  of program  participants were  undertaken at age  19 and at age  27. The reported outcomes included an increased proportion of young people who  were  literate, employed and enrolled in post-secondary education and a reduced proportion of young people who  needed special education services, had left school,  were  arrested, had become a teenage mother  or were  on welfare. Program  participants were  also found  to have  a greater earning capacity and be more  likely to be homeowners (Iowa  Kids Count Initiative  1993, p. 22; Bright 1997, p. 50; Tomison  & Wise 1999, p. 8).

Schweinhart (1987,  cited  in Potas et al. 1990) estimated that the total benefits  in 1981 dollars were  approximately US$28 000 per participant, or approximately six times the cost of a one- year  program and three  times the cost of a two-year program. This was  supported by other work  by Schweinhart et al. (1993,  cited  in Bright 1997, and Tomison  & Wise 1999).  A cost- benefit  analysis quantifying the impact  of social  costs estimated that, by the time children involved in the study  had reached 19 years, there  had been  a return  of $4 for every  $1 spent on early  childhood services. This return  on investment became even  greater  when  calculated at 27 years. At this age,  the estimated savings of those  less likely to require special education services were  more than $7 for every  $1 of taxpayers’ money spent  on the preschool program (Barnett  1993, cited  in Tomison  &Wise 1999; Schweinhart & Weikart  1993, cited  in the Iowa Kids Count Initiative  1993).  Barnett  and Escobar (1987,  cited  Zigler & Styfco 1993) estimated the per-child cost of the Perry School  Project to be US$6 300 in 1986 dollars.

The Iowa  Kids Count Initiative  offered  a cautionery note on the benefits  of high-quality preschool programs. It stated  that such  programs (including Project Head  Start, below) are only  part of the solution  to achieving school  readiness and are not a solution  for all children or families  involved in such  programs. It also found  that the most gains  were  to be found  in programs that also included an active  parent  involvement program.

Project Head Start

Project Head  Start commenced in 1965 with to give  disadvantaged preschool children aged three  to five years  a ‘head  start’ to help  them commence elementary school  with competence levels  similar  to their middle-class peers. The program had an initial  enrolment of more  than 500 000 children. Early studies  of Head  Start focused on improvements to children’s intelligence test scores.  The findings  were  that while children who  attend  preschool increase their IQ score  for some  years, this boost eventually fades.  However, lasting  effects were  found in other areas.  These  included that children were  less likely to be referred  to special education classes or to repeat  a grade  in school  (Zigler  & Styfco 1993).  Another Head  Start study  found that children had better health, better immunization rates and nutrition  and improved socio-economic circumstances (McKey et al. 1985, cited  in Zigler & Styfco 1993).  Other studies showed better school  adjustment for Head  Start participants, as well  as fewer  school  absences and improved academic performance (Copple et al. 1987, and Hebbeler 1985, cited  in Zigler & Styfco, 1993).

Zigler and Styfco (1993)  and (1996,  cited  in Tomison  & Wise 1999) noted  a number of the outcomes and cost-benefits identified in the Perry School  Project.  These  included savings to society  from reduced special education; reduced grade  repeats; reduced usage of welfare and criminal justice  systems; and contributions to the tax base  from higher  unemployment). These outcomes and cost-benefits have  also been  inferred  to Head  Start and other early  intervention programs. Zigler (1993,  p. 12) noted  that ‘although it is somewhat difficult  to extrapolate the likely effects of individual Head  Start programs …the salient  effects of high-quality programs are sufficiently consistent to permit  an inference of at least  broad  developmental benefit’. However, Zigler and Styfco (1993)  did note that the attributing the Perry School  Projects’ reports of $7 savings for every  $1 invested to Head  Start appears to be in part because of media elaboration. It was  also noted  that findings  for the Head  Start program were  too modest or that data  were  lacking on program outcomes to make  such  direct  correlations (Haskins 1989; Woodhead 1988).  Zigler (1996)  noted  that based  on positive evidence, Head  Start-like programs have  seen  a resurgence in the US as half-day programs during  a school  year  with some  children attending for over two years. No cost-benefit analyses of Head  Start Projects (original or current) were  cited.  Barnett  and Escobar (1987,  cited  in Zigler and Styfco 1993) estimated the per-child cost of Head  Start in 1990 to be US$2 767 . The lesser  expenditure per child  for Head  Start compared to the Perry Project was  considered a key  reason  why  Head Start had not achieved the extent  of outcomes that the Perry Project had (Zigler  & Styfco 1993).

Families and Schools Together—Australia and the United States

Families  and Schools  Together  (FAST) is a collaborative, school-based early  intervention program  for children and families. The program  is a multi-family, community-based approach originating in the US in 1988 through  Dr Lynn McDonald  (McDonald  et al. 1997; McDonald  & Sayger  1998; Coote 1999).  It has been  implemented in over four hundred school  sites throughout the world,  including twenty-seven US states,  Australia  (nine  Victorian  primary schools), Canada, Germany  and Austria. Pilot projects  are planned for Queensland, the Australian Capital  Territory  and Western  Australia  in 2000 (Coote,  1999).

FAST aims to build  resiliency and protective factors for children. Primary-school children aged four to nine  years  identified within  the school  system  as being  at-risk  are targeted (if showing underlying risk factors of school  failure, child  abuse, substance abuse and delinquency). FAST also targets  the children’s families. FAST involves the collaboration of schools, parents, family support  and alcohol and drug  agencies over an intensive eight-week program involving volunteer families  in strategies and activities involving individuals, families, parents  and school-community networks. The first stage  of the program commences with teachers identifying at-risk  children and home  visits to identified families  are undertaken to encourage program  participation. The eight-week program is followed up with a two-year FASTWORKS program—a series  of monthly  family-support meetings designed to maintain an active  social network. Staff in the program  are also available in between weekly sessions and families sometimes offer contact  details  to each  other for contact  in-between and beyond the program. McDonald  notes  that parent  graduates are used  to help  with future  programs. This facilitates ongoing skills’  formation  as well  as job creation. Noted outcomes of participants’ involvement in FASTWORKS have  included increased community involvement and the emergence  of community leaders. The formation  and maintenance of strong  and ongoing social  networks and the building of a sense  of community have  also been  observed (McDonald  et al. 1997). Parent testimonies also recognised FAST as having  contributed to the pursuit  of further education and to obtaining employment (McDonald  et al. 1997).

Typically 10 to 15 families  participate in a FAST program, involving thirty to fifty adults  and children per weekly session. Tangible participation incentives are incorporated in the program including transport, a meal  and child  care.

FAST seeks to develop a support  network for the family  and to empower parents  to be the primary  prevention agent  for their child.  It has also been  designed to promote  educational achievement, strengthen family  bonds  and relationships and build  communities. Other goals were  identified as fostering  feelings of affiliation, and mutual  respect and reciprocity among the children’s family,  school  and community environments (McDonald  et al. 1997).

Evaluation  results  are highly positive, showing significant decreases in children’s identified behaviour problems (including anxiety/withdrawal and attention-span problems). According  to both parents  and teachers (an improvement of 20 to 25 per cent in behaviour was  calculated) (McDonald  & Frey 1999).  Another behaviour-related finding  was  that parents  reported that the improvement in their child’s  behaviour was  maintained or improved two to four years  after the FAST program had been  completed (McDonald  et al. 1997).  Other program  findings  by McDonald  et al. (1997)  included:

  • increased child  and parental self-esteem (95 per cent of participants);
  • increased parental involvement in the child’s  school  (75 per cent of parents);
  • reduced social  isolation of parents  (86 per cent of them having  made  friends  with other FAST participants); and
  • increased parental involvement within  the community (83 per cent of parents).

The nature  of community involvement by program  participants since  FAST included 30 per cent in full-time  employment; 24 per cent in part-time  employment; 44 per cent in further education; 14 per cent in volunteer organisations; 35 per cent in a community center;  32 per cent in church; 17 per cent in a parent-teacher organisation; 26 per cent in counseling; and eight  per cent in alcohol or substance abuse treatment. Based  on responses by the families  involved, improved family  cohesion (reduced family  conflict  and increased expressive play  time)  was  another reported outcome.

Australian data  shows  high  participation and retention rates,  with data  showing that the program will  be completed by 94 per cent of those attending the first session (McDonald  & Sayger  1998).  This compared to an 88 per cent retention rate for the US (McDonald  et al. 1997).

Follow  up was  made  with Coote to elicit  more  costs details. Funding  sources in Australia  have been  through  charitable trust grants.  Coote provided cost estimates showing that the cost to operate FAST in one primary  school  range  from $32 000 to $49 000 including costs for the two-year follow  up program. Other variables affecting  cost include the number of FAST team members (maximum is ten, minimum is four) and whether FAST team  members are paid  to work  on the FAST team  or require additional payment for the out-of-hours work  involved. Depending on how  the program was  staffed,  Coote advised that estimated Australian costs are an average of $38 000 or less.  This was  the cost for the program (over  two years) for servicing between 20 families  (up  to 30 children attending with parents) and 30 families  (up  to 60 children attending with parents). The cost per family  unit was  estimated to range  from $1 266 to $1 900 per family  over two years.

McDonald  and Frey also provided a cost analysis, reporting that the cost per family  is approximately US$1 200 for eighty-six hours  of services (30 sessions, including FASTWORKS) over two years. The cost for each  school  offering  two FAST cycles per year  to serve  30 families was  calculated as US$30 000 (not including evaluation of FASTWORKS) (1999).

Better Beginnings, Better Futures

This project  was  discussed in the Early Years Study (1999,  pp. 110–11)  and further information was  obtained via a web  search  (http://www.opc.on.ca/bbbf/index.html). The project  is a 25-year longitudinal prevention policy research demonstration project  being  implemented in 12 communities across  Ontario,  Canada. Its aim is to prevent young children in low-income, high-risk neighbourhoods from experiencing poor developmental outcomes that then require expensive health, education and social  services.

Better Beginnings, Better Futures  is a holistic  and integrated program  provided initially in eight,  and later 12 communities, targeted at economically-disadvantaged and high-risk children aged  0 to 8 years. Program  components include child  and parent-focused components and community-focused initiatives with the aim of:

  • preventing emotional, behavioural, social,  physical and cognitive problems in young children;
  • promoting healthy child  development; and
  • enhancing capacities in socially and economically-disadvantaged communities.

Project funds stem from a range  of government sources totalling $6.64 million  per year  in 1999.

The program  recently completed a five-year demonstration project.  Comprehensive data  were to be available in 1999 although was  not attainable for this project.  Children  involved are to be monitored as a part of a twenty  five-year longitudinal research study  to see  if they  fare better than equally disadvantaged children not participating in the prevention programs. Anticipated long-term program  outcomes are that children involved will  require fewer  expensive services, be less likely to be in trouble  with the law,  less likely to become pregnant as teens,  more likely to stay in school  and be healthy, and more likely to be employed as adults.  Shorter-term outcomes are predicted to be that fewer  children will  require expensive protection and treatment  services, be less likely to require special school  services and less likely to have chronic  illness  and injury.

Success for All Program

Success  for All was  a school-based achievement-oriented program  for disadvantaged students from kindergarten to grade  five which  originated from a partnership between Baltimore Public Schools  and the Centre  for Research on Elementary to Middle  Schools  (Balkcom & Himmelfarb 1993).  The program  was  based  on the views  that every  child  can learn  and that early  success is crucial  for later success and that intervention can alleviate learning problems and effective school interventions are comprehensive and intensive. The program  sought  to:

  • address learning difficulties with the aim that every  high-poverty school  student  would finish grade  three  with grade  level  reading skills;
  • reduce the number of students  referred  to special education classes;
  • reduce the number of students  held  back  to repeat  a grade;
  • increase school  attendance; and
  • address family  needs for food, housing and medical care  to enable the family  to support  its child  in education (Balkcom & Himmelfarb  1993, p. 1).

The program involved a family  support  team  working to promote  parent  involvement and build child  resiliency. Other services (community and mental  health) were  provided as necessary. As at 1993, the program had been  implemented in 50 schools  in 15 states  in the US. Program  results  included improved performance by some  children, reduced special education placements and improved retention rates.  For example, 3.9 per cent of third-grade students  in the program performed two years  below grade  level,  compared with 11.7 per cent of the matched control-group students. Savings  in students  not repeating a grade  and special education placements were  found  to offset the annual per student  cost—an  additional US$800 to the school’s  usual  allowance per student.

3.4   Family support interventions

Family  support  interventions were  discussed by Bright (1997)  and noted  to be effective strategies for averting social  and community problems. Family  supports include crisis interventions, less intensive supports for families  in difficulty, parenting programs and/or a mixture  of programs. Targets  are families, particularly those  at greatest risk, including, those who are poor and socially isolated. Bright noted  research findings  linking isolated families  with factors such  as abuse and neglect, school  failure,  truancy  and delinquency (Schorr  1988, cited in Bright,  1997).  The benefits  of family  support  interventions can include reduced foster care and out-of-home placements as well  as improved parenting, reduced child  abuse, improved school  achievement and reduced delinquency. For example, Bright referred  to programs in the US that claimed substantial reductions in foster care  and other out-of-home placements with cost effectiveness estimates of a return  of between $5 and $6 on every  $1 invested through reduced long-term foster care,  group  case  or psychiatric hospitalisation (p. 48). Bright noted that improved parenting and reduced out-of-home placements could  be expected to reduce later offending patterns. He noted  that while this has yet to be proven  by longitudinal studies, knowledge of family  discord  and breakdown and its association with delinquency were reasonable indicators for this conclusion. Bright also noted  that action  to address outside stresses  such  as poverty  and unemployment which  make  it difficult  to be a ‘good’  parent, would help  family  support  interventions achieve their full potential.

Homestart

A United  Kingdom  (UK) program  called Homestart  was  referred  to which  aimed  to reduce family  breakdown through  using  trained  volunteers to support  families  with preschool children. A positive evaluation was  reported with 86 per cent of children registered as at-risk staying out of care  (Van der Eyken 1982, cited  in Bright 1997).  Bright noted  that fully attributing these  results  to Homestart  was  not possible. Financial details  were  not provided, which  precludes a cost-benefit analysis at this stage.

Provence group approach

The Provence group  approach is a US-based  program discussed by Seitz et al. as part of a longitudinal analysis of the program (1985).  The program  involved coordinated social  and medical services (including social  work,  paediatric care,  day  care  and psychological services) to disadvantaged mothers  and included day  care  for their children. The program  began during the mother’s  pregnancy and continued for 30 months  after the birth. The program costs were US$7 500 per family  in 1970–72 dollars  over the 30-month  intervention period. These  were calculated to translate to approximately US$20 000 in 1982 dollars.

A 10-year longitudinal study  produced findings  that supported findings  from a five-year follow up. These  were  that the program  contributed to significant changes to parents  and the interventions had lasting  consequences for the families’  socio-economic status.  The 10-year study  compared program  participants (mothers and children) to a control  group. Its findings included that mothers  involved in the program were  more  likely to be self-supporting (almost all of the program families  were  compared to about  half of the control  group  families). Program families  were  smaller—this was  believed to be significant in the higher  education levels achieved by program mothers  (through delays in subsequent childbearing allowing a return  to education) compared to the control  group. The study  also found  that mother-child relationships were  better in program  families  than control  families. Also it found  that program mothers  were  more  active  in the school  and their child’s  education. The children involved in the program were  found  to have  better school  attendance (an average of 7.3 days  absence for program  participants compared to 13.3 days  absence for the control  group). It was  also found that boys  in the program were  less likely to need  costly  special school  services (average service costs for program  participants were  US$450 per child  compared to US$1 570 per child for the control  group).

Over the ten years, an estimated US$40, 000 additional welfare costs in 1982 dollars  and documented school  service  costs were  calculated as needed each  year  by the 15 families  in the control  group. This led to the conclusion that the program was  paying itself off at the rate of at least  two families  per year.  The study  also concluded that providing services over a long  time does  not necessarily lead  to dependence (as evidenced by the increased self-reliance of program families). Other conclusions of the study  were  that programs designed to address combinations of problems were  likely to be more  effective  and that comprehensiveness and coordination should  therefore be an element of all family  support  intervention.

K-Six Early Intervention Partnership

This was  a school-based program  serving high-risk families  through  an early  intervention, family-centred approach developed in 1984 by a community task force studying high  school drop outs. The program  was  piloted  in two schools  and later adopted by Fresno Tomorrow, Inc. (a youth  services collaborative) and expanded.

The program sought  to increase academic and social  literacy; promote  regular school attendance; reduce chronic  transiency; strengthen family  functioning; empower parents  to serve as effective  partners  in education; increase community accountability for children; identify fiscal and regulatory barriers  to the provision of services; and demonstrate effective means  to overcome those  barriers. The program  involved the cooperation of several agencies using  pooled funds (public and private) to provide services and case  management to families. Families  were  identified as high-risk by teacher and parent  input  and computer analysis. Agency workers (Department of Social  Services, social  workers, mental  health  specialists and juvenile probation officers)  formed  a team with school-based workers. The program  involved support and incentives provided at home  and in the school  in a range  of areas  including attendance incentives; community and family  advocacy; cross-age tutoring;  cultural  enrichment; family literacy training; mentoring; parent  involvement workshops; parenting and household management education and training; and parent  and child  support  groups  and recreation.

Positive  outcomes were  reported for the program. This included referrals  for misbehaviour among  the children involved reduced by 70 per cent per child;  increased parent-initiated contact  with the school  (from two contacts  a year  to two contacts  a month);  a 40 per cent reduction in unexcused absences; and reduced high  school  drop  outs and reduced teenage pregnancy (nil drop  outs or pregnancies among  the 60 children involved in the program  and now  in high  school).

Fresno Tomorrow, Inc. coordinated the K-Six Program  and was  funded  by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The Program  had an overall  budget of US$1.2 million  and the cost per family  for services was  estimated to be US$375.

3.5   Early childhood and Families—conclusions

The literature reviewed in this chapter  clearly establishes the benefits  of community-based early  childhood and family  intervention and prevention programs. The benefits  arise  from both the cost effectivenes of many  of the programs as well  as in building stronger  and healthier families  and,  in turn, stronger  and healthier communities. As in medicine, prevention is far more effective  than remedial action.  The premise for early  childhood prevention and early intervention programs is the recognition that a child’s  development in the first few years  of life sets the foundation for lifelong learning, behaviour and health  outcomes.

From this literature review, it is apparent that a combined approach which  links  community- based  programs with individual prevention and ameliorative programs targeted at ‘at-risk’ children provide superior outcomes. Similar  conclusions can be drawn  for family  support programs. This is because community-based programs build  resilience and protective factors which  address the structural  causes of disadvantage in ways  which  are not addressed by individual programs alone. By building social  networks and empowering communities, self- reliance and protective factors are strengthened (and  there  is some  evidence that dependency on individual programs is thereby reduced). Because of the complexity and multi-dimensional nature  of many  social  problems affecting  children and families  (for example,. child  abuse, maltreatment, and so on),  community-based initiatives that are integrated with government programs, and which  address combinations of problems, are likely to produce more  socially and cost-effective results.

The studies  show  the importance of prevention and intervention programs that are initiated early in the child’s  life. When  programs are directed at families  with children who  have  yet to complete primary  school,  they  are more effective  in terms of social  outcomes (such  as reduced substance abuse, reduced maltreatment, reduced future  involvement with the justice  system, increased school  completion rates,  future  employment and so on).  They are also considerably more  cost effective  in terms of program  expenditure per participant. The importance of education and schools  is emphasised, as is the importance of the active  involvement of parents and other primary  care  givers.

Table 2: Summary of early childhood/family programs received
Program/ Project Title Program/ Project Description 1 Target Community/ Group 2 Funding  sources Project Costs 3 Outcomes4 Evaluation5 Contact Details
High/Scope Perry Preschool Study: Ypsilanti Perry Preschool Project A two-year preschool program to enable children from disadvantaged backgrounds to participate in an active approach to learning. Undertaken in Ypsilanti, Michigan from September 1962 to June 1967. Preschool aged children from disadvantaged backgrounds. State funds (Michigan). Social indicators: Over the long term—reduced crime; reduced welfare dependency; increased literacy; improved school retention rates; reduced long-term unemployment; reduced teenage pregnancy; increased social capital. Short-term and longitudinal studies, including cost benefit analysis and comparison of program participants with control groups. Cost-benefits over the long term; a saving of $7 for every $1 invested in the preschool program at the time participants were 27 years old. The estimated program cost per child was US$6 300 in 1986 dollars. No longer current.
Project Head Start A preschool program run throughout the US to help disadvantaged preschool children get a ‘head start’ by starting elementary school with competence levels similar to their peers. Originally commenced in 1965, it has continued since in various forms throughout the US. Preschool children aged three to five years from disadvantaged backgrounds. Various US funding sources. The outcomes and costbenefits for the Perry Preschool Project (above) have been generalised to Head Start, including positive long term effects on the child’s ability to meet academic and social expectancies. Social indicators specific to Head Start: improved school retention; reduced referrals to special education classes; better health outcomes; better immunisation rates; better nutrition and improved socio-economic circumstances. Various short-term and longitudinal studies. Similar cost-benefits to the Perry Preschool Project (above) have been extrapolated to Head Start although with some caution. The estimated program cost per child was US$2 767 in 1990 dollars. No longer current.
Families and Schools Together— Australia and US. A two-year, school-based early intervention program for children and families to build resiliency and protective factors for children through an eight-week intensive course, followed up by a twoyear program involving monthly self-help meetings and ongoing family support. The program has been operated in various locations including the US, Canada, Australia, Germany and Austria. At risk children aged four to nine years. Australia—charitable trust grants. Cost to operate FAST in one primary school is estimated to cost from $32 000 to $49 000 (including two-year follow up program costs). USævarious funding sources. Estimated cost per school for two FAST cycles per year was US$30 000 (not including FASTWOKS evaluation). Social indicators: decreases in identified behaviour problems of children (sustained over two to four years); increased child and parental self esteem; improved educational success; improved family cohesion; increased parental involvement in their child’s schooling; increased higher education participation of parents; increased employment for some parents (including as program workers after graduation from the program). Stronger communities’ indictors: networks and partnerships in communities; knowledge and skills including volunteering; leadership in communities. Qualitative and quantitative evaluation built into each program. Various evaluations have been reported upon including in the US and Australia— short-term and longitudinal. Some cost data is available. For example, average cost per family over two-year program for Australia was estimated to be from $1 266 to $1 900 and for the US approximately US$1 200). Australia: Sherrie Coote, FAST International— Australia, (Ph: 03 9481 4915), (email: scoote@tig.com.au). US: Dr Lynn McDonald, Program Founder, The FAST Research Project, Michigan (Ph: 608 263 9476), (email: mrmcdona@ facstaff.wisc.edu).
Better Beginnings, Better Futures A twenty-five year longitudinal prevention policy research demonstration project across twelve communities in Ontario, Canada with the aim of preventing young children in low-income, high-risk neighbourhoods experiencing poor developmental outcomes which then require expensive health, education and social services. At risk children aged 0 to 8 years. Ministry of Community and Social Services; Ministry of Health; Ministry of Education and Training; Federal Department of Indian and Northern Affairs; and Heritage Canada. Total program funds in 1999 were C$6.64 million. Social indicators: reduced crime; reduced welfare dependency; better health outcomes; reduced longterm unemployment A five-year evaluation was completed in 1999 (not available for this report). Future evaluations are planned to assess effectiveness and cost-benefits of the prevention model. Carol Crill Russell, Senior Research and Policy Advisor, Children’s Services Branch, Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services, 4th Floor Hepburn Block, 80 Grosvenor St, Toronto, ON M&A 1E9. Ph: 416-325-5329.
Success for All A school-based achievement-oriented program involving a family support team. The program aimed to promote parental involvement and build child resiliency through improved reading skills; reduced special education referrals and repeated grades; increased school attendance; and addressing family needs (food, housing, medical care). Originated in Baltimore, US and later extended to various US locations. For disadvantaged students from kindergarten to grade five. Not available in literature cited. Social indicators: reduced welfare dependency; increased social capital Program evaluation undertaken including an estimated US$800 cost per student additional to a school’s usual allowance. Savings in grades not being repeated and reduced special education placements were calculated to offset program costs Robert Slavin, Centre for Research on Effective Schooling for Disadvantaged Students, The John Hopkins University, 3505 North Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-516-0274.
Homestart A UK volunteer support program to families with preschool children aiming to reduce family breakdown Families to preschool children Not available in literature cited. Social indicators: reduced welfare dependency; increased social capital. Stronger communities’ indicators: knowledge and skills; including volunteering. Evaluation undertaken. No cost-benefit details available in the literature cited. Not known.
Provence group approach A one-off US-based program (New Haven, Hamden and West Haven, Connecticut) involving coordinated social and medical services to disadvantaged mothers and their children Disadvantaged mothers from pregnancy to 30 months after birth. Not available in literature cited. Social indicators: reduced welfare dependency; increased social capital. Stronger communities’ indicators: local solutions to local problems. Evaluations including a five-year follow up and a ten-year longitudinal study. Cost estimates of the program include: US$7 500 (in 1970-72 dollars) or US$20 000 (in 1982 dollars) per family. Welfare and services savings of US$40 000 (in 1982 dollars) estimated for families in the program compared to a control group. Not known.
K-Six Early Intervention Partnership A school-based early intervention program which sought to increase academic and social literacy; improve school attendance; reduce chronic transiency; strengthen family functioning; empower parents; and identify and develop means to overcome barriers to service provision. Piloted in Fresno, California and expanded to other locations in the US. High-risk families. Annie E. Casey Foundation. Social indicators: reduced crime; better health outcomes; increased social capital. Strong communities’ indicators: networks and partnerships in communities; local solutions to local problems Qualitative and quantitative evaluation. Cost estimates; overall program budget US$1.2 million. Estimated program cost per family—US$375. Jeff Stover, Executive Director, Fresno Tomorrow Inc., Fresno Executive Plaza, 1900 Mariposa Mall, A-301, Fresno, CA 93721. Ph: 209-442-3342.
  1. Description of project  aima  and location. Pilot, one-off,  or on-going. Project length.
  2. By geographic location/region and/or community of interest.
  3. Name of funding program/s  or funding sources, total project  costs (direct  and indirect).
  4. General  effectiveness/outcomes as well  as social  indicators and stronger  communities indicators.
  5. Quantitative and/or qualitative evaluation. Availability of cost-benefit data.

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4. Young people

The impact  of changes in the social  and economic structure  of society  is highlighted by the fact that many  young people face a mismatch between their natural  abilities and the task and roles that are available to them.  The resultant  weakening of the bonds  between young people, their families  and their communities undermines social  cohesion and inhibits  the development of social  capital  (Graycar & Nelson 1999).

As noted  in the previous chapter, the early  years  are critical  in laying the foundation for healthy participation in society. In addition, it is widely accepted that if early  prevention experience is to have  a permanent effect, it must be subsequently reinforced and built on (Bright  1997).

A recurrent theme  in the literature is the notion  of identified ‘risk factors’ which  are said  to increase the likelihood of a range  of behaviours, for example, young people offending, substance abuse, and ‘protective factors’ (which are often the opposites of the risk factors). Risk factors and their corresponding protective factors fall into four categories: community; school;  family;  and peer/individual. Many prevention strategies have  been  based  around increasing protective factors and decreasing risk factors (Bright  1997; Harachi  et al. 1996).

Of particular interest,  is the claim  that community disorganisation and low  neighbourhood attachment are key  risk factors with the corresponding protective factor being  strengthened communities. In support  of this, the success of prevention strategies, including community based-programs and those  aimed  at strengthening communities rather  than remedying individual pathologies, is cited  in a range  of literature (Bright  1997; Krisberg  & Austin 1993; Graycar  & Nelson 1999; Pinkney & Ewing 1997, cited  in Chamberlain & MacKenzie  1998).

While  the value  of prevention and early  intervention programs is cited  throughout the literature, there  are two broad  caveats to this. The first is that various  authors  refer to the need for coordinated service  delivery and treating  the ‘whole person’  (Krisberg  & Austin 1993; Chamberlain & MacKenzie  1998).  In some  instances, coordination of services is also specifically discussed in terms of it being  more  cost effective  (Krisberg  & Austin 1993). Secondly, the profound impact  of broad  structural  changes in society  is highlighted. Of particular concern are changes in levels  of employment, the economy, technology and family structures  which  have  made  it increasingly difficult  for some  young people to avoid  drugs, crime and under-employment (Bright  1997; Blumstein 1998, as cited  in Krisberg  & Austin 1993; Graycar  & Nelson 1999; Morrison et al. 1997a).  This idea  is further developed by Pinkney and Ewing (1997,cited in Chamberlain & McKenzie  1998) who  argue  that the real  economic cost to the community does  not arise  primarily from government expenditure needed to support young people in the absence of family  and employment. Rather,  it is a consequence of a more fundamental undermining of economic wellbeing, resulting from the reduced productive capacity of the nation  as a whole. To this end,  the key  economic costs of youth  homelessness have  been  identified through  focusing  on labour  market  efficiency, health  related costs and involvement in the criminal justice  system  (p.129).In terms of the cost of a range  of poor social  outcomes for young people, there  are various estimates, both within  an Australian and the United  States (US) context.

For example, institutionalisation of young people through  imprisonment or residential treatment for emotional disorders is enormously expensive. A 1990 US study  found  that residential placement for treatment  of children with emotional disturbances is the most expensive form of treatment, averaging at US$30 000 per year  per child.  In contrast,  the study provided an estimated cost of US$3 474 for a community-based continuum of care  intervention (Texas  State Department of Mental  Health  and Mental  Retardation 1990).

Estimations  of costs of juvenile crime in Australia  were  obtained from a number of different sources. Potas et al. (1989)  claim  that the direct cost of some  major categories of juvenile crime in Australia  in 1986–87 was  $601.7  million.  This includes $150 million  for car theft; $90 million for household burglaries; $4 million  for vandalism to local  government property; $56.5 million for arson  and vandalism to non-local government property; $300 million  for shop theft; and $1.2 million  for violent  crime (based on in-patient bed day  costs).  In addition, it is estimated that $500 million  is spent  on administering juvenile justice;  $350 million  on policing; $15 million  for legal  aid,  prosecution and private  legal  costs; $70 million  on detaining offenders in institutions; $12 million  on non-custodial sanctions; and $250 million  on the private  security industry. Therefore  the total cost of juvenile crime in Australia  is stated  to be $1.5 billion  per year.

In terms of juvenile incarceration, the annual cost is stated  to be between $50 000 and $83 000 per person, not to mention  the emotional and financial costs to the community in the course  of getting  them into prison,  nor the likely social  security payments after their release (Potas  et al. 1989; Graycar  & Nelson 1999).  In turn, this means  that it costs 12 or 13 times more per day  to keep  a juvenile in an institution  than putting  them on probation or under community service  orders  (both  equally effective  in terms of recidivism rates).  It is also costs five to 10 times more to deal  with juveniles through  the courts  than administering cautions (Potas  et al. 1989, p. 2).

In relation  to homelessness in Australia,  the number of homeless young people and associated costs are cited  in a range  of literature.

The Australian Institute  of Health  and Welfare  (AIHW) (AIHW 1999) provides a range  of data, particularly in relation  to the Supported Accommodation Assistance Program  (SAAP). SAAP provides a range  of services to people who  are homeless or at imminent  risk of becoming homeless. The enormous impact  of youth  homelessness is highlighted by the fact that, for both men and women, the greatest proportion of recipients of SAAP services is for 15–19 year  olds (this includes only  those  who  themselves are SAAP clients). In 1997-98,  15–19 year  olds represented 20.7 per cent (or 19 376) of the total number of clients  and 20.9 per cent (or 34 130) of the total number of support  periods. In 1997-98,  the total funding for SAAP services was $224 million  (AIHW 1999).

Indigenous Australians are also identified as being  particularly vulnerable to homelessness. This is stated  to be a result  of: displacement associated with European  settlement and subsequent policies of segregation and assimilation; and with difficulties in accessing housing due  to low  incomes, discrimination and in some  instances, lack  of housing stock  (AIHW 1999, p. 296).  The over-representation of Indigenous people in SAAP services is highlighted by the fact that in 1997-98,  Indigenous Australians received 13 per cent of support  periods and yet only two per cent of the general population identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander  in the 1996 census (AIHW 1999, p. 316).

Dixon (1993)  has estimated the cost of homelessness in Australia  to be $7 400 per year  per person. This includes the cost of unemployment benefits  and the associated loss of tax revenue, based  on the assumption that homeless people are unemployed. While  it is acknowledged that some  people are homeless as a result  of unemployment, addressing homelessness remains a viable  strategy for increasing the employability of young homeless people. In addition, it is argued that homelessness has significant non-economic costs because of the loss of people’s potential to contribute to communities and the broader community (Dixon  1993).

Again,  within  an Australian context,  Pinkney and Ewing (1997)  argue  that the total cost attributable to homelessness in 1994 was  $574 million.  This includes $132 million  in costs associated with ill health  and involvement in the criminal justice  system, and $442 million in foregone education and long-term unemployment. They argue  that a national early intervention strategy would cost $100 million  per year  which  would result  in a net benefit  of $474 million  and would break  even  at a success rate of 21 per cent.  Therefore, even  if only one quarter  of homeless students  could  be helped, the economic benefit  would outweigh the cost (Pinkney & Ewing 1997, quoted  in Chamberlain & MacKenzie  1998, p. 129).

Despite  the availability of some  information regarding costs, there  is clearly a need  for better costing  and reporting on juvenile crime  (Potas  et al. 1989).

The prevention and early  intervention programs cited  in the literature relate  to a range  of issues  including crime  prevention, mental  health, unemployment, homelessness and education. For the purposes of this report,  the programs have  been  divided into four categories: crime prevention, school-based programs, unemployment and youth  leadership. The following provides a summary both of programs that contain  detailed cost-benefit analysis and of those that report  information of a more  general qualitative nature  only  (including those,  such  as the scouts,  that do not address negative social  indicators explicitly).

4.1   Crime prevention

Research indicates that community-based programs are both effective  in reducing recidivism rates and are considerably less expensive than total confinement in traditional correctional services (Krisberg  1992, cited  in Krisberg  & Austin 1993).  In addition, it is generally accepted that early  entry  in the criminal justice  system  is a significant factor in the creation of criminal careers and that attention  should  therefore be focused on prevention and early  intervention approaches (Blagg 1992; Graycar  & Nelson 1999).

While  the authors  were  unable to obtain  program  information relating to prevention strategies specifically targeted at Indigenous people, there  is significant evidence of over-representation of Indigenous young people in the criminal justice  system  and the need  for programs that involve  and/or are controlled by Indigenous communities (Blagg 1992; Crime Research Centre 1995; Aboriginal Justice  Council  1998).  It is recommended that further information be obtained in relation  to Indigenous-specific programs.

Krisberg  and Austin (1993)  report  on the success of the Department of Youth Services’ crime prevention strategy in Massachusetts, US. The strategy incorporates a range  of community- based  programs including group  homes; forestry  programs; day  treatment  programs; outreach and tracking programs; and foster care.

Under the program, the young offender  is assigned to a case  manager who  develops a treatment  plan  based  on clinical and educational evaluations as well  as family  history  and the severity of the current  offence. As a condition of release from a residential program, the case manager arranges participation by the offender  in community services, such  as drug  and alcohol treatment  or counseling

The small  size of the program  has been  identified as a critical  success factor—no  residential program  houses more  than 30 young people and supervision case  loads  are kept  very  small.

Two significant evaluations have  occurred—the first by a Harvard  Research Team,  reported on in 1982, and the second  by the National  Council  on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD), reported on in 1988. While  the Harvard  evaluation offers some  insights, it is the NCCD evaluation that provides a more  detailed analysis of the program  outcomes.

The NCCD study  tracked the criminal involvement of 819 young people for 36 months.  The first indicator of recidivism used  was  the number of young people who  continued to violate the law  during  the 12 months  after returning to community living.  It is noted  that this is a very  conservative measure of success or failure  as it is based  on the notion  of ‘absolute cure’/ abstention. Having  said  that, of all the young people, 51 per cent were  re-arraigned within 12 months  of their return  to community living  compared with a figure  of 66 per cent of young people released from the old training  schools. It is argued that this decrease in recidivism cannot  be attributed to the department handling less serious  offenders  or that the police were less likely to arrest  juvenile offenders.

Through  comparisons with other states,  albeit  with methodological constraints, the recidivism rates were  equivalent to, and in some  cases  lower  than,  youth  recidivism rates in other states. In another  comparison the recidivism rate,  after being  statistically re-weighted, was  62 per cent compared to 70 per cent for the Californian Youth Authority  data.  From a 12-month  follow-up study,  it was  found  that for both those  admitted for a violent  crime  and chronic  offenders, the number of arraignments dropped by half after involvement in the community-based program. In addition, the young people showed a tendency to commit  less serious  crimes.  This is highlighted by the fact that while 60 per cent of pre community-based program charges were for violent  crimes,  in successive follow-up periods only  one third of their offences  were  crimes against people. Based  on statistical analysis, it was  argued that the decline in offending could be attributed in part, but not wholly to a ‘regression to the mean’  (based on the notion  that a predictable slowdown occurs  immediately after the frequent and serious  offence  episode) and through  maturation (offenders engage in less crime  as they  grow  older).

Of the 810 youth  committed annually to the Department of Youth Services, approximately 15 per cent are initially placed in a locked treatment  program. Generally, offenders  are transferred to less secure residential or non-residential programs after a very  short time (that is, four weeks), compared to traditional juvenile corrections programs that result  in longer placements in secure confinement and often re-incarceration following parole violations.

A variety  of states  in the US report  spending US$100–125  per day  to hold a young people in a traditional training  school  (Allen-Hagen 1991, cited  in Krisberg  & Austin 1993).  Massachusetts offers a range  of community-based programs for young offenders, including secure treatment programs at US$170 per day;  staff-secure placements at US$127 per day;  community-based group  care averaging $95 per day;  day  treatment programs at US$50 per day  and non-residential outreach and tracking services costing  US$23 per day.  The increase in cost of secure units is because of the small  size of the programs and extensive investment in educational and clinical services. The average annual cost per young person  for the community-based programs is US$23 000 compared to US$35 000–45 000 per young person  per year  spent  by many  states. As well,  it is estimated that to incarcerate young people in a training  school  in Massachusetts would cost an additional $16.8 million  in operating funds.  This estimate assumes that all committed young people were  placed in a secure program for 360 days  (which was  typical  of many  states  in 1988) and that the state would have  to triple  its number of secure beds.

Job Corps

The evidence that job training  is successful in reducing recidivism and in generating other social  benefits  comes  primarily from the US-based  Job Corps program  (Potas  et al. 1990).  Job Corps provides a comprehensive set of skills  and services to disadvantaged unemployed young people, and includes vocational, education and health  care  with a 6–12 month residential placement (Long, Mallar & Thornton  1981, cited  in Potas et al. 1990).

A cost-benefit analysis has been  completed which  details  budgetary (governmental) impacts and other social  impacts. Based  on this analysis, the cost per entrant  in 1997 dollars  is said to be US$5 070, with the net value  per entrant  at US$2 271. This equates to a benefit-cost ratio of 1:45—that  is, for every  $1 invested in the Job Corps program there  is a return of $1.45.As  the analysis did not include a number of benefits  that were  hard to quantify, it is further argued that this is likely to be an underestimate (Long, Mallar & Thornton 1981, cited  in Potas et al. 1990).

Benefits  reported include:

  • increased utility  due  to preferences for work  over welfare;
  • reduced dependence on transfer  programs;
  • reduced criminal activity  (reduced criminal justice  system  costs, personal injury  and property damage; reduced value  of stolen  property; and reduced psychological costs);
  • reduced drug/alcohol use (reduced treatment  costs, and increased utility  from reduced drug/alcohol dependence);
  • utilisation of alternative services (reduced costs of training, education and PSE programs, and reduced training  allowances);
  • increased utility  from redistribution; and
  • increased utility  from improved wellbeing of corps’  members (Long, Mallar & Thornton 1981, cited  in Potas et al 1990, p. 65).

There are a number of similar  programs in Australia  æ for example Special Youth Employment Training  Program,  Education  Program  for Unemployed Youth,  the Wage  Pause  Program,  the Good Neighbour Program  (Victoria)  and the Community Employment Program.  However, there  is no systematic evaluation of these  programs.

Croydon Good Neighbourhood Program

Vernon  and McKillop (1989)  report  on this Victorian  State Government initiative where money was  made  available for projects  that aimed  to both assist  the identified offenders, but also had a broader prevention focus.

A total of 15 councils across  the Victoria were  each  given  a $10 000 seeding grant to initiate  a Good Neighbourhood Committee. In addition, up to $40 000 could  be accessed via submission and a further $20 000 obtained on the basis  of the government matching money raised  by the community, dollar-for-dollar. Croydon  was  one of the first to take  up the invitation  and received $10 000 seeding money and an additional $40 000 grant.

The Croydon  Neighbourhood Committee of 20 people included academics, professionals, retired  people, youth  workers, police and students. The following initiatives were  developed:

  • student  information officers—students paid  to disseminate information to other students about  activities occurring within  the community;
  • a shuttle  bus for the area—youth workers used  the council bus and the local  church provided a bus and a driver  to transport  young people home  after events;
  • practice facility  for garage bands  with funding from various  sources;
  • discounted tickets  for local  cinemas through  a subsidy offered  by the local  cinema;
  • an outward bound  type  adventure course  with all equipment donated;
  • a ‘no-wine bar’—with  some  funding from the local  Technical and Further Education  (TAFE) colleges; and
  • a ‘safe train’—trains with police patrols  and entertainment to provide a safe transport  at night.

The cost for the various  programs varies  enormously and no quantitative evaluation has been completed. However, all programs have  led to the development of extensive involvement with other parts of the community and an awareness of all participants of each  other’s  activities. Examples of cooperation cited  include:

  • collaboration between the church,  council and sign-writers to develop the bus;
  • churches, local  musicians and government organisations joining  forces  to set up facilities for the garage bands;
  • a local  cinema owner  expressing commitment to the community;
  • government departments, individuals dealing with offenders  and councils teaming up to implement the adventure program;
  • TAFE colleges, soft drink  companies and the Australian Bar Tenders  Guild collaborating to develop the no-wine bar; and
  • police, unions, ministers  and the broader community all supporting the safe train (Urjadko 1989).

While  the literature cites the increased networks and partnerships that were  formed  as a result of involvement in the program, no quantitative evaluation was  reported.

Family Ties Program

Bilchik  (1995)  reports  on the Family  Ties Program  which  originally began in New York in 1989 as an alternative to incarceration for young people aged  7 to 16. The program is underwritten by the City of New York with the state providing match  funding on a three  to one basis.

The program consists  of intensive home-based services and an assessment of family, community and educational needs of the young person. The program aims to modify individual behaviour, but it also works  to strengthen families  as a key  aspect  of crime prevention.

Approximately nine  out of 10 juveniles who  participated in the program during  1991 and 1992 remained uninvolved with the juvenile justice  system  six months  later with no significant difference in the results  of a follow  up after 12 months.  Findings  indicate that for every  $1 spent on the program there  was  a $7 saving  to the public  by averting juvenile placements in detention centers. This has been  equated to a total saving  of over $335 388 during  a six-week period, based  on an average of 32 participants per group  (Bilchik, 1995).  The literature did not provide information about  whether the program had been  repeated and if so, with what  effect. Therefore, it is not possible to extrapolate the savings over a 12-month  period.

Pathways to Prevention—developmental and early intervention approaches to crime in Australia

The Pathways to Prevention report  is the result  of research undertaken by the Developmental Crime Prevention Consortium  in 1997 that included:

  • a review of the international literature on human  development and early  intervention;
  • an audit  of several hundred early  intervention services and programs in Australia;  and
  • the formulation of a policy framework for planning and developing prevention initiatives.

Appendix 1 contains  the descriptions of a large  range  of Australian programs, presented by categories æ either  as special needs’ programs (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander  peoples, people of non-English  speaking backgrounds, children/families of offenders, children with disabilities); or children and family  services’ programs (pre-school, school  age  behavioural, family  counseling, household management skills,  and community center-based development and support).

A number of the programs have  been  evaluated and refer to a range  of outcomes related to building stronger  communities. Time did not permit  the authors  to obtain  detailed information on the programs but several may  be worth  following up, specifically:

  • 1.10—the  Early Intervention Program  for Aboriginal Families  which  aims to reduce truancy and crime  through  the development and implementation of culturally-appropriate parenting programs for Aboriginal people;
  • 2.7—the  Supplementary Services Program  for people in special needs’ categories (as above), which  aims to ensure that families  with children with additional needs can participate in the workforce and the general community by providing suitable child  care opportunities;
  • 5.1—the  Home Instruction  Program  for Preschool Youngsters, which  aims to assist  children to be successful at school  and one of the outcomes reported is the development of community leadership;
  • 6.3—the  Volunteer Tutor-Friend  Program  aims to both enable youth  and their families  to make  changes in a supportive environment and to empower the wider  community; and
  • 8.2—the  Positive  Parenting Program  aims to both enhance individual parenting skills  and also reduce the risk of child  abuse, mental  illness  and delinquency (Attorney  General’s Department 1999).

4.2   School-based programs

The link between education and a range  of social  outcomes has been  explored in a range  of literature, both from the point  of view  of the impact  of school  on the wellbeing of young people and the impact  of the wellbeing of young people on their school  performance (Bright 1997; Graham  & Bowling 1995; Texas  State Department of Mental  Health  and Mental Retardation 1990).

Referring  to the ‘school  effect’ where students  of the same  ability  achieve different  academic grades in different  school  settings, Bright (1997)  argues that the school  itself has a considerable impact  on young people. This is reinforced by Potas et al. (1989)  who  state that ‘instructionally effective’  schools  are also effective  in reducing the potential for individuals to engage in delinquency. In addition, the impact  of truancy, bullying, school  exclusion and underachievement have  been  linked to social  indicators such  as levels  of offending. For example, a study  found  that truants  are three  times more likely to offend than those  who  had not truanted. It also found  that excluded children are much  more  likely to admit  to offending and other anti-social behaviour (Graham  & Bowling 1995, cited  in Bright 1997).  Equally,  a student’s  school  performance will  be adversely affected  by substance abuse or mental  health problems (the Texas  State Department of Mental  Health  and Mental  Retardation 1990).

It is no surprise, therefore, that schools  have  increasingly become the focus of prevention and early  intervention programs in areas  like  mental  health, school  exclusion, truancy, bullying, under-achievement and parent  involvement.

Student Assistance Program

The 1990 Texas  State Department of Mental  Health  and Mental  Retardation report  highlighted the Student  Assistance Program  which  includes a comprehensive range  of services provided in a school  setting  to students  at high  risk of emotional disturbance. Service  delivery options  are either  coordinated and/or provided by staff within  the school,  by professional external agencies, or a combination of both. In the combination model,  services have  a broader base which  incorporates campus-wide programs such  as healthy living,  parenting skills  and student leadership. It is noted  that communication and networking are facilitated in such  an approach.

While  the literature did not provide details  of program costs or quantitative evaluative details, a number of findings  are worth  noting.  For example, in New Jersey  a sample of approximately 10 per cent of the 2 000 student  participants indicated that absenteeism has decreased significantly. In Phoenix, 61 per cent of surveyed participants reported either  a decrease or cessation of chemical abuse and the majority  reported gains  in areas  such  as coping with problems, expressing feelings of self-worth, peer  relations and family  relations. In Oregon, there  was  a decrease in alcohol and other drug-related violations æ from 27 in 1986–87 to 12 in 1987–88 (Texas  State Department of Mental  Health  and Mental  Retardation, 1990).

The Youth Support Coordinator Initiative

The Youth Support  Coordinator Initiative  was  recently implemented by the Queensland Department of Families, Youth and Community Care as an early  intervention response to student  homelessness and early  school  leaving. The initiative aims to:

  • develop networks and coordination processes to link young people and their families  to support  agencies;
  • facilitate  the development of protocols  and procedures between schools  and community groups;
  • coordinate information dissemination strategies regarding available support  services; and
  • engage the support  of the community to find ways  to develop service  responses to address the needs of these  young people and their families  (p. 225).

A budget of $1.9 million  was  allocated over three  years, which  enabled thirteen  community organisations to employ Youth Support  Coordinators. All projects  were  targeted at areas  with a high  incidence of youth  homelessness and school  suspensions and exclusions, across metropolitan and regional areas  with one program set up to specifically target  Aboriginal young people.

Kippax  (1999)  reports  that there  were  an estimated 350 homeless students  in any  one week in the 35 target  schools, with between 3 250 and 4 600 students  at risk of homelessness at any one time (1 300 to 1 950 of which  were  considered seriously at risk).  In addition, there  were likely to be between 200 and 800 under-age school  leavers and an estimated 2 000 aged between 12 and 14 who  are at risk of leaving school  early.

An evaluation has been  completed which  included:

  • ongoing data  collection;
  • semi-structured interviews with Youth Support  Coordinators, Department of Families, Youth and Community Care Regional Youth Affairs Officers, and target  school  representatives;
  • a focus group  with Youth Support  Coordinators; and
  • a survey  of principals at the target  schools.

Results  indicate that the program  has been  highly effective  with interview and principal survey results  indicating a 78 per cent and 65 per cent success rate respectively in terms of assisting young people who  are at risk of early  school  leaving. In addition, interview responses and principal surveys indicated an 82 per cent and 55 per cent success rate respectively in relation to assisting young people who  are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Unfortunately, the full evaluation report  was  not available, so few if any  conclusions can be drawn  from this information. However, taken  at face value  these  results  are impressive and it would be worthwhile obtaining further details  in further research.

As well  as providing direct  assistance to individuals and their families, it also works  at a whole-of-schools’ and community development level.  This is evidenced through  the community networks and links  formed  including local  businesses becoming involved in employment and vocational options  and through  the provision of materials; and school  staff, students  and families  building up their own  relationships with community agencies.

Critical success factors identified include:

  • developing partnerships between schools  and their local  communities;
  • the fact that the projects  are outside of school  management systems;
  • being  able  to work  outside of the physical school  boundaries and outside of school  hours; and
  • the capacity to work  with families.

It is also worth  noting  that there  has been  considerable work  undertaken in relation  to youth homelessness within  Australia,  but unfortunately program details  and evaluations were  not able  to be obtained.

A significant initiative that is worth  highlighting is the Prime Ministerial Youth Homelessness Task Force that was  established in 1996. In all 26 pilot programs which  targeted homeless young people and people at risk of homelessness and their families  were  conducted across  all states  and territories  and in both metropolitan and rural areas.

A comprehensive evaluation was  completed including:

  • internal  program  data  collection;
  • data  collection by independent consultants;
  • individual project  evaluation reports;
  • consultancy reports;
  • file reviews of Centrelink applicants for Youth Allowance; and
  • file reviews of a sample of written  advice reports  (Department of Family  and Community Services 1998).

The specific  cost-benefits of these  programs were  not available at the time of writing.

Peer group activities

Very little information was  available in relation  to this initiative and the source  reference was unable to be obtained. However, it has been  included on the basis  that it is cost neutral  and appears to have  impacted significantly on the rate of vandalism.

A comprehensive school  in Tyneside, UK, allocated existing Local Management of Schools’ school  improvement funds (£200 000) to a committee of students  who  were  responsible for managing planning improvements in the school.  During  the three  years  following the introduction of the scheme, school  vandalism reduced by 75 per cent.  (The Observer 9 February 1992, cited  in Bright 1997).

Dalston youth project

Reported  on in Bright (1997),  this is an education and mentoring project  in Hackney, London for 15 to 18 year  olds who  are offenders, have  been  excluded from school  or are persistent truants.  The program  includes:

a week-long residential course  to help  young people decide their objectives;

an education and training  program; and

an attachment to an adult  volunteer mentor  for one year.

Arrest rates for the 25 young people involved in the project  reduced from between 50 and 70 per cent and 16 young people re-enrolled in college or training  course. While  details  could  not be obtained in relation  to the cost-benefit analysis, Webb (1996,  cited  in Bright 1997) states that the estimated number of crimes  prevented amounted to a greater  value  than the cost of the project.

4.3   Unemployment

While  unemployment programs are obviously an area  of great  significance, only  two community-based programs with any  kind  of evaluation were  identified.

Work Force Youth Unemployment Prevention program

This program, which  is based  in Massachusetts and operated by the Cambridge Housing Authority  and a non-for-profit corporation called Pathways Institute,  has been  reported on in Lassen (1995).

The program includes:

  • classes and seminars;
  • homework centres;
  • tours and field trips;
  • ‘try-out’  employment placements where participants are paid  the base  wage plus  any employer supplement;
  • counseling and case  management; and
  • home  visits to parents  by counselors and teachers.

Parent involvement is cited  as an important  element of the program, taking  on the roles  of part- time coordinators of the homework centres  and chaperones on college tours and field trips.

The program  relies  on the collaboration of a number of government and non-government agencies to deliver the services offered,  including the local  school;  the Department of Human Services; outdoor  adventure clubs;  private  foundations; juvenile probation; youth  workers; and public  and private  ventures.

The total funding for 1994 was  $383 252 which  serves  100–125 young people per year. Evaluations indicate that:

  • 79 per cent of employers were  willing to take  participants back  for additional programs;
  • since  the program started,  employment rates increased for the young people involved than for comparable youth  and since  its inception;
  • the program maintained a constant  80 per cent job retention rate;  and
  • in 1992–93,  eight  out of 10 graduating seniors  matriculated to college (Lassen  1995).

Constraints  and challenges to the program included:

adequately serving all students  when  some  have  very  high  needs;

finding  and maintaining employers;

developing relationships with schools  and issues  of confidentiality with regard  to schools releasing information about  at-risk  students; and

extending the program to reach  both younger (that is, as young as eight  years  old)  and older  youth  (that is, post high  school).

Durham North Carolina (NC)—guidance and employment

This was  a community-based preventative program  in 1993, which  targeted 260 African- American  young men (Ringwalt et al. 1996).  It combined the provision of mentoring with a six-week summer  employment experience and a three-month entrepreneurial experience and was  evaluated by the participants. A subsidiary element to the program  was  that community violence was  a factor in unemployment facing  these  young men.  The program  was  intended to assess  risk and to promote  protective factors in the actions  of the participants. Findings showed that the young men were  both the perpetrators of and the victims  of violence. Conflict resolution and anger  management were  indicated as aspects for developing protective factors in work  with young men in this situation.

As a whole, the project  findings  identified three  key  factors in the success of guidance and employment training. These  factors are:

  • conjoint  leadership (program staff, community, business, young people);
  • clear  roles  between different  stakeholders; and
  • flexible budget (managed at program  level).

4.4   Youth leadership

Young  people are frequently characterised in professional and research literature as the recipients of programs or services that are led by adults.  However, this may  be a consequence of a needs or risks’ focus as opposed to one that emphasises the development of leadership and resilience of young people themselves (Morrison  et al. 1997b).  For example, one survey found  that young people themselves are often engaged in defining their own  solutions to improve their own  communities even  when  these  efforts may  not have  a formal outlet (Starr 1998).  The following examples represent two different  approaches to the development of youth  leadership in community building and show  that when  given  appropriate support  and facilitation young people have  enormous potential to play  a central  role in strengthening communities.

The scout movement: service and leadership

In recent  years, the scout movement has received a number of criticisms  in youth  studies, from a variety  of directions. Because of its origins  in Edwardian England  and subsequent history,  the movement has been  seen  as promoting a particular view  of people and society  that is exclusionary because it is derived from white, male,  middle-class and able-bodied norms (for example æ Salzman  1992; Stevens  1995; Pryke  1998).

The modern  scout movement has responded to such  perceptions through  the development of a series  of initiatives that seek  to promote  relevant leadership skills  among  young participants and,  at the same  time, to support  parents  and other adults  in the community that are associated with the young people. A series  of ‘parent’s  guides’ published by the Scout Association address issues  such  as drug  misuse, youth  suicide, child  abuse, youth  sexuality, employment concerns and so on (Scout  Association of Australia  1993–1999). The movement is also attempting to deal  with issues  of cultural  and ethnic  bias in its operations and publicity (Victoria  Scout Association 1989).

However, the emphasis of the movement is less on youth  problems and very  much  more focused on active  work  in the development of leadership and potential among  young people as contributors to their communities (Scout  Association of Australia,  1999).  The movement promotes  volunteering on the part of young people and also among  the adults  who  provide the direction for local  groups  and who  help  to run associations at regional, national and international levels  (Raskoff  1994).  Raskoff also notes  that although the scout movement is segregated on a gender basis,  this may  work  to the advantage of young women and girls who are able  to develop strong  positive models of women’s leadership that go beyond dominant stereotypes. Pryke  (1998)  also notes  that the historical ethos  of the scout movement includes a positive regard for the environment alongside individual autonomy within  a strong  sense  of community.

No cost benefit  information about  the scout movement is available.

Young people as community builders

Finn and Checkoway (1998)  report  a pilot project  studying six community-based youth programs in different  parts of the US. These  programs brought  together  young people as active participants in problem solving, program  planning and providing services in their communities. The underlying principle in the sampling for this review was  that the programs should  involve  young people as ‘thoughtful, active  citizens  in a living  democracy’ and so as ‘active  participants in the process of personal, organizational, and community change’ (p. 335).

The six programs described in Finn and Checkoway’s review were  evaluated in terms of four factors (1998,  p. 337):

  • the level  of participation by the young people—the extent  to which  they  act on the concerns affecting  their lives;
  • capacity building—the extent  to which  they  demonstrate concrete contributions to personal, organisational and community development;
  • collaboration—the extent  to which  young people and adults  build  teaching-learning partnerships that promote  communication and respect across  lines  of sex,  race  and culture, social  class  and age;  and
  • cultural  awareness—that participants draw  from diverse cultural  knowledge and practices and at the same  time develop a greater awareness of their own  cultures and histories.

Two hundred initiatives that matched these  criteria  were  identified across  the US. From these they  selected six case  studies  æ The City, Minneapolis; Youth as Resources, Indianapolis; Youth Action Program,  East Harlem  [New York]; Latin American  Youth Center,  Washington DC; 21st   Century  Youth Leadership Network,  Selma  [Alabama];  Southwest Organizing Project, Albuquerque. The authors  show  that these  projects  exemplify ways  in which  the talents  and commitment of young people themselves can be facilitated and supported to make  a significant contribution to community building. Demonstrable outcomes included both positive and negative measures. The former are illustrated by young people exercising leadership in housing regeneration and community clean-up campaigns; outreach to seniors; skills development and employment projects;  peace and cultural  awareness projects;  environmental action;  community arts; and active  campaigns on a variety  of community issues. Each program has its own  blend  of specific  action  projects,  in which  the young people are actively involved to define  their own  community’s goals.  Negative  outcome measures include declining truancy and school  drop  outs; reduced crime  and vandalism; less community violence; and reductions of expressed discrimination and of negative perceptions of their communities.

Finally,  in the longer  running programs, former participants have  provided mentoring and support  for the succeeding generation, benefiting the community through  the development of capacity, leadership, knowledge and skills,  as well  as providing gains  for both the young person  and the mentor  in personal development. Using older  teenagers as mentors  for younger adolescents has been  shown  in other programs to benefit  both for the younger person and also the older  teenager (or young adult)  in recognising and valuing their own leadership potential (Hamann 1999).

No costing  information is provided in this review, but the demonstrable benefits  of these programs are clearly shown.

4.5   Young people—conclusions

There is overwhelming evidence that for many  community-based programs directed at the early prevention of social  disadvantage through  unemployment or homelessness and/or anti-social behaviours in young people, economic and social  benefits  are delivered way  in excess of the costs of the programs. There are several key  factors that contribute to effective  programs.

First, it is important  that programs address the whole-of-community.’ Society-wide social  and economic forces which  impact  upon  young people make  it difficult  for some  of them to avoid the risk factors which  lead  to unemployment or homelessness or to destructive or anti-social behaviours. Whole-of-person and whole-of-community approaches that coordinate appropriate service  delivery are more  likely to address these  society-wide factors through  building resilience and protective barriers.

Second, the school  environment appears to be important. Instructionally-effective schools appear to be effective  in also reducing young people’s destructive and anti-social behaviours, as well  as increasing their chances of achieving the educational and social  skills  necessary to enter  employment and to avoid  marginalisation. In terms of the school  environment, communication and effectiveness is facilitated through  a coordinated approach that involves both school  staff and professional external agencies. However, effectiveness is also facilitated when  the level  of community involvement is high,  such  that there  are effective  partnerships between the school  and members of the local  community — business people, churches, sporting  and social  organisations, and so on, together  with a capacity for working with families. A management structure  outside the school’s  management system  assists  in achieving these  factors.  As in programs directed at children, active  parent  involvement is a key  factor for success in programs directed at youth.  For Indigenous young people, the active  involvement in and control  of programs by Indigenous communities is also a key  factor in effectiveness.

In the area  of crime prevention, early  intervention is crucial  in minimising future involvement as an offender  in the criminal justice  system. The more that young people become involved in the criminal justice  system, the more likely it is that they will  continue to offend.  The cost of both the prosecution of crime and incarceration are enormous, and far in excess of the cost of effective prevention and early  intervention programs. Small-size programs (with  small  case  loads)  appear to be more effective  than larger-scale programs, and programs which  include job training  appear to reduce recidivism, as well  as reducing substance abuse and other destructive behaviour. Such programs also tend to engender a preference for work  over welfare.

Finally,  the practice of mentoring appears to play  a crucial  role in many  of the programs that have  been  identified. Through  mentoring, young people, either  individually or in groups, often develop their potential for community participation and leadership because of the encouragement, guidance and support  they  experience. Mentors may  be only  just a little older than the young person  receiving the mentoring or they  may  be seniors. (Chapter 5 addresses intergenerational issues  and develops this theme.) What is important  is that partnerships and networks operate in this way  to share  ideas, skills  and to stimulate and strengthen community capacity in all age  groups.

Table 3: Summary of youth programs reviewed
Program/ Project Title Program/ Project Description 1 Target Community/ Group 2 Funding  sources Project Costs 3 Outcomes4 Evaluation5 Contact Details
Massachusetts Department of Youth Services An ongoing program resulting out of juvenile corrections reforms in Massachusetts, USA in the 1970s that resulted in the traditional training schools being shut down and replaced by a range of community-based programs. The program has been extended to other areas in the USA. 7–17 year olds Average of US$23 000 per young person, per year. Social indicators: reduced crime. Two quantitative evaluations reported. N/A
Job Corps A USA job training program that aims to reduce recidivism. Unemployed youth selected from an at risk population with regards to juvenile delinquency. Not known from the literature cited Social indicators: reduced welfare dependency, reduced crime, reduced alcohol/ drug use. Quantitative, cost benefit ratio of 1.45 that is, for every $1 invested, there is a return of $1.45. N/A
Croydon Good neighbourhood Program An initiative of the Victorian State Government, Australia. The program aims to assist individual offenders and to help prevent young people from getting into a position where they might offend. Youth. A mix of state government and community funding. The state government provides $10 000 seeding funds, up to $40 000 program funds and an additional $20 000 that can be accessed on a dollar for dollar basis with money raised by the community. Stronger communities’ indicators: knowledge and skills, networks and partnerships in communities, local solutions to local problems. Specific evaluations not referred to in the literature. N/A
Family Ties program A crime prevention program based in New York, USA that began as a pilot in Brooklyn in 1989 and was expanded to the Bronx and Manhattan in 1991. The program provides an alternative to incarceration for youth 7–16 year olds. Not known from the literature cited. Social indicators: reduced crime. Quantitative evaluation indicates that for every $1 spent on the program, $7 savings to the public by averting juvenile placements in detention centres. Blanca Martinez, Director, Nuestro Centro, 1735 Ewing Street, Dallas, TX 75226 (214) 948-8336
Student Assistance program A US-based program run in various states that aims to improve mental health services for children, remove obstacles to children’s learning and improve the quality of students’ lives. Elementary and secondary school students. Not known from the literature cited. Social indicators: decreased absenteeism; decreased substance use; gains in peer relations and family relations. Quantitative. N/A
The Youth Support Coordinator Initiative An early intervention response to student homelessness and early school leaving implemented in schools in Queensland, Australia. Students in Queensland schools located in urban and regional areas with high incidence of youth homelessness and school suspensions and exclusions. $1.9 million over three years which enabled 13 community organisations to employ a Youth Support Coordinator. Stronger communities’ indicators: networks and partnerships in communities. Quantitative and qualitative. Rod Kippax, Office of Youth Affairs, Qld. Department of Families, Youth and Community Care.
Peer group activities Based in Tyneside, UK. It is difficult to know what all the stated aims of the program are due to lack of information. However, reduced vandalism and crime are mentioned. Comprehensive school. Allocation of existing funds which are managed by students (£200 000). Social indicators: reduced vandalism. Quantitative. N/A
Dalston youth project An education and mentoring project in Hackney, London. 15 to 18 year olds Not known from the literature cited. Social indicators: reduced crime; increased enrollments in college or training courses Quantitative. N/A
Work Force Youth Unemployment Prevention program Commenced in 1984 in Massachusetts, US. Youth—primarily 13 to 16 year olds comprising African Americans (40%), Hispanic (18%), other ethnic groups (16%) and white (16%). Approximately 63 per cent of funding is received from federal, state and local government and a third from corporate foundation grants. The total funding for 1994 was US$383 252 which serves 100 to 125 young people per year. Social indicators: reduced unemployment. Stronger communities indicators: networks and partnerships. A quantitative evaluation was completed in 1988. N/A
Durham NC—youth guidance and employment Community-based prevention program, combining mentoring, employment and entrepreneurial training. Durham NC, US African-American young men, aged 16to 21. Not known from the literature cited. Social indicators: reduced crime; reduced welfare dependency; reduced unemployment. Stronger communities’ indicators: knowledge and skills; local solutions to local problems; community capacity to use best practice. Qualitative in literature cited. N/A
Scout movement An international network of youth organisations, intended to promote personal development. Youth æ primarily aged 10 to 20. Not known from literature cited. Social indicators: increased social capital. Stronger communities’ indicators: knowledge and skills including volunteering; networks and partnerships in communities; leadership in communities. Qualitative in literature cited. Scout Association of Australia, Canberra ACT.
Young people as community builders Review of 200 programs in the US, with six described in detail. Most programs involve partnership between community, business, government and young people. Youth, aged 10 to 21 (some local variation according to program) Not known from literature cited. Not known from literature cited. Qualitative in literature cited Prof. Barry Checkoway, School of Social Work, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
  1. Description of project  aima  and location. Pilot, one-off,  or on-going. Project length.
  2. By geographic location/region and/or community of interest.
  3. Name of funding program/s  or funding sources, total project  costs (direct  and indirect).
  4. General  effectiveness/outcomes as well  as social  indicators and stronger  communities indicators.
  5. Quantitative and/or qualitative evaluation. Availability of cost-benefit data.

[ Return to Top   Return to Section ]

5. Seniors and intergenerational programs

In an ageing society, the presence of older  people may  provide a source  of enhanced social capital  (Gallagher 1994; Millward 1998).  In this sense, social  capital  may  take  two forms:

  1. the wealth of experience of seniors  made  available to the community if given  appropriate outlets;  and
  2. the time seniors  have  available for active  participation in the community. However, there  are very  few evaluated programs that draw  on the contributions made  by this growing section  of society. (Indeed, the emphasis in policy and research has tended to be on the needs of older  people as recipients of care.) Some exceptions are to be found  in United States’ (US) evidence that both types  of programs that make  use of the experience and time of seniors  within  an explicitly intergenerational framework may  constitute a useful  part of a community building strategy (Morrow-Kondos et al. 1997).

The economic benefit  of unpaid grandparental contributions in families  and associated community participation has been  estimated as at least  US$17 billion  (Bass  & Caro 1996).  There is also empirical evidence that a similar  pattern  exists  in Australia,  with seniors  identified as a major source  of non-parental child  care and of voluntary community effort (Encel 1997, p. 148). Using known figures  of the numbers of older  people in national populations, and allowing for demographic differences such  as mobility  over time, it may  be extrapolated that grandparents contribute the equivalent of $1.75 billion  to Australian society. Beyond the strictly  economic factors,  there  is also evidence that positive grandparental involvement strengthens families  and so contributes to the strengthening of communities (Freedman, 1997).

5.1   Seniors in the family

Supporting Grandmothers—Atlanta, and Warm-Line—Oakland

Programs  that support  the role of older  people as carers  in families  have  two components. First, they  may  be targeted towards grandparents acting  as surrogate carers  in place  of ‘foster parents’. A search  of international databases from 1986 to 1999 inclusive identified 22 references to published findings  and reports  concerning grandparents providing primary care  for grandchildren. Of these  22 references, only  two evaluate specific  projects—Minkler et al. (1993),  and Grant et al. (1997).  Both these  studies  are from the US.

Minkler  et al. (1993)  provide a summative evaluation of 124 programs in 25 large  urban  areas across  the US (p. 808). The 124 programs were  identified from an extensive trawl  of all available data and represent as complete a picture  of the US as possible at the time of their survey.

The programs are sub-divided into five types:

  1. groups  providing emotional and informational support  only;
  2. support  plus  another  service  (one-to-one counselling the most common);
  3.  information and referral  services;
  4. coalitions (citizen advocacy organisations); and
  5. comprehensive programs of professional services (including ‘special groups’).

Minkler  et al. discuss two examples in detail.  Both are chosen  from the 24 examples that constituted their category ‘e’ (p. 810).  The first is a program in Atlanta providing educational, emotional and social  counselling services for grandmothers, at a cost of US$110 000 over two years  (number of families  not stated). This program particularly served  low-income families. The second  is a ‘warm-line’ in Oakland (California), which  provided information and brief counselling by telephone to 750 different  callers  (on over 1 000 calls)  over six months,  at a cost of US$18 000. This service  helped 750 grandparent carers  to cope  with the task of caring for grandchildren, especially in the early  stages  of assuming care-giving responsibilities. In addition to the phone  line,  it also started  localised support  groups, a peer  training  program and a directory of local  services. The service  cost an equivalent of $37 per family  (per  year pro rata).

Using the Australian estimate of minimum costs per year  of formal intervention per family  of $2 215 (Stubbs  & Storer 1996),  it would have  broken even  if only  13 (1.7 per cent)  of these families  would have  otherwise required formal intervention. Estimates from Australian and British research suggests that 25 per cent out-of-home placements with foster parent(s) break down  in the first year  of placement. This rises  to between 40 per cent and 50 per cent after three  years  of placement, so that the figure  could  be expected to be much  higher  (Triseliotis 1993, p. 16; Fernandez 1996, p. 155; Sellick  1996, p. 168) Future cost-benefits would then accumulate proportionate to other factors associated with family  breakdown (truancy, crime, loss of employment opportunities and so on) which  can be ten times the minimum.

Minkler  et al. (1993)  also note that 80 per cent,  or 99 of projects  were  unfunded. Although some  were  highly successful, the lack  of funding was  widely seen  as a problem because it meant  programs were  short-term  or limited  in their benefits  (often  not continuing because of the strain on volunteers). Of the 25 funded  projects,  ten did not provide figures, and the remainder had an estimated median average cost of US$40 000.

Manhattan — school-based health and social support

Grant et al. (1997)  evaluate a school-based program to support  grandparent care  givers  in New York. The program  consisted of a full-time  social  worker plus  targeted access to health  and ‘fostering  stipends’ that matched non-relative care  giving. Key features  of the program are:

  • psycho-social support;
  • medical and health  care  (for children and older  carers);
  • social  security (including the fostering  stipend); and
  • legal  support  (pro bono legal  service).

The costs to public  services of these  elements of grandparents acting  as surrogate carers  are usually no different  to the costs of supporting non-relative foster carers.  In some  instances grandparents may  provide additional input,  or not collect  some  material benefits  (because they consider this to be part of their family  life).  However, in most instances the older  people involved need  to access material supports because they  are on relatively low  incomes.

One of the barriers  to grandparents fostering  in the US has been  identified as the jeopardy to social  security income  from fostering  payments (Flint & Perez-Porter 1997, p. 70). Likewise, housing entitlements may  be affected, although in most areas  discrimination against households with children is not legal—an exception to this is in housing that is contractually designated for occupancy by seniors  (usually defined as aged  over 55). Thus there  is no obvious financial gain  from using  grandparents as foster carers.  The benefits  are that care  is provided within  the family  network and this may  strengthen links  with the absent  parent.  Half of the surrogate grandparent carers  surveyed by Flint and Perez-Porter  took on the role with a view  to handing primary  care  giving  back  to their grandchild’s parent(s) or of sharing the care. New York State has a statutory  requirement that a child  must be placed with a relative in preference to strangers, and there  are additional payments to support  such  arrangements (over and above  those  provided in other fostering  placements). However, there  are limitations on the authority of the grandparent as a foster carer  that do not apply in other circumstances, and not all grandparents caring  for grandchildren may  apply for the scheme—the child  or children must be placed by a statutory  agency (Flint & Perez-Porter  1997, p. 66).

Grandparenting Success (skills education)—Arizona

Second, in addition to direct  care  giving, seniors  may  support  parenting by younger adult relatives (d’Abbs  1991; Gallagher 1994).  Although  the literature increasingly makes  reference to the importance of this phenomenon, the specific  programs that are described are restricted to those  that are intended to enhance grandparent-grandchild relationships. These  are sometimes referred  to as enhancing ‘grandparenting success’ (Strom et al. 1990; Strom & Strom 1993). With their colleagues, Strom and Strom have  evaluated short-term  focused programs to provide grandparenting skills’  development classes. These  programs consist  of 12-weekly classes in understanding the lives  of grandchildren and improving intergenerational communication on the part of the older  person. Family  members, preferably grandchildren, were  used  as evaluators, and the outcomes of the quasi-experimental tests were  that significant improvement was  gained, where improvement was  defined in terms of a measure of satisfaction in the relationship expressed by both grandparents and grandchildren. Anecdotally, the value  of such an approach for families  is supported by the observations of eminent British gerontologist Jefferys  (1997,  pp. 82–6).  The costs of the educational programs are not stated,  but these  can be estimated from the unit costs of interpersonal skills’  development courses in higher education as $5 000 for start-up  and $4 500 for delivery per group  of 12 participants (current Australian values).

Grandparent volunteers in schools—Arizona

Another dimension of active  grandparenting is evidenced by a program to encourage grandparents to act as volunteers in schools  in Tempe  (Arizona). The need  for this type  of program was  identified because of the falling  numbers of parents  (usually mothers) who  had played such  a role over a long  period  of time. Strom and Strom (1994)  describe the program and concluded that it met the requirements of educational benefit  for children and also for the volunteer grandparents, while also enhancing intergenerational family  relationships. Costs are not described, although the educational input  for the grandparents (that was  intended to support  their volunteer activity) is very  similar  to the program discussed above. Such a program  provides a bridge  to the wider  community participation of older  people.

5.2   Seniors’ participation in the community

As noted  above, outside the immediate family  seniors  also constitute a major source  of community effort. This can be seen  in a diverse range  of types  of activity  — for example in service-providing organisations, cultural  and religious groups, sporting  organisations and political groups (Gallagher 1994; Freedman 1997).  However, as Freedman notes  (p. 253) almost  all program  models are small,  scattered and lack  infrastructure.

Across Ages/Linking Lifetimes

An extension of the grandparenting role that has gradually developed is that of older volunteers acting  as mentors  to young people who  are at risk. Rogers  and Taylor  (1997) provide an overview based  on evaluations of American  projects  aimed  to achieve these outcomes, with specific  mention  of Across Age’ and Linking  Lifetimes (also  see  Taylor  & Dryfoos 1999).  This overview aggregates evaluated outcomes and provides indicative data  on a range of programs. Three  aspects are notable. These  are the roles  of seniors  as mentors, implementation issues  and outcomes.

The roles  of senior  in mentoring schemes are summarised as ‘companion…social supporter…teacher…role model…challenger…[and] resource supporter’ (Rogers  & Taylor 1997, p. 128).  It was  emphasised that ‘telling  the young person  what  to do’ was  a negative approach in the mentoring role,  while positive evaluations by young people included the idea of ‘fun’ even  if interactions had a very  serious  life-skills’ development component. To create and sustain  these  roles,  the organisation and implementation of schemes required the training and support  of volunteer mentors.  This was  achieved by employing case  managers (at least 50 per cent position  for 10 to 20 pairs  of mentors  and young people). This case  manager’s role was  both administrative and person  focused. The outcomes of the schemes were  that at-risk young people who  were  provided with mentoring improved in confidence, had good  school or college attendance, reduced drug  use and coped  better with stress and anxiety (Rogers  & Taylor  1997, p. 138).  Comparable programs in Australia,  such  as the Seniors  Helping at Risk Kids project  in Western  Australia,  are yet to be evaluated.

Foster grandparents—National Senior Service Corps

The National Senior Service  Corps (NSSC) in the US supports a foster grandparent program that brings  together  seniors  with families  in need  of practical assistance and support  (Senior  Corps 2000a).  The seniors  are not related to the children or their parent(s), nor do the children live with the seniors. However, the support  provided supplements parenting through  child care,  mentoring, and emotional support. Seniors  are recruited and they are supported by paid  and voluntary staff. The explicit goals  of the program include ‘[to] strengthen communities by providing youth services…and by building bridges across  generations’ (Senior  Corps, 2000a,  p. 1).

The program had 25 300 active  volunteers nationally in 1997, serving 175 500 children through 23.8 million  hours  of service  (a mean  average of approximately 18 hours  per week per volunteer). Most (90 per cent)  of the volunteers were  women, with an approximate division between white  Americans at 48 per cent and all other ethnic  groups  (including Black, Hispanic, Asian and Native Americans) together  comprising 52 per cent.  Fifty-one  per cent of the senior  volunteers were  aged  between 70 and 79 years, with a further 31 per cent aged between 60 and 69 years  and the remaining 18 per cent aged  80 years  and over.  Of the children, 44 per cent were  aged  under  five years, a further 40 per cent aged  between six and 12 years  and the remaining 16 per cent aged  13 years  and over.  The funding for the program was  nearly US$109 million  of which  nearly US$77 million  (71 per cent)  came  from Federal Project Grants Allocation. The mean  average per volunteer was  US$4 305 or US$621 per child assisted. The main  gains  for seniors  are that they  can share  their life skills  and experience through  mentoring younger people (Wofford  1999).  In Australian dollars, the per client  cost is $955, which  compares with Stubbs  and Storer’s (1996)  estimate of direct  costs of family  stress of $2 215 per family.

This type  of program  therefore might be expected to show  a minimum cost-benefit ratio of 1 to 2.32 and so could  usefully be investigated. Further costs might be saved  in terms of future benefits  in improved life opportunities and reduced social  problems as the children grow older.  A comparison can be made  between Stubbs  and Storer’s (1996)  estimate of $27 375 as the annual cost of an individual child  in detention and Gittell and Vidal’s  (1998,  p. 20) estimate of benefits in very  significantly increased individual income  arising  from developing extended community networks.

Neighbourhoods 2000/Downtown 2000

A different  approach to the use of older  volunteers working with younger people is seen  in the Neighbourhoods 2000 project  in New York and Downtown 2000 project  in Honolulu, reported by Kaplan  (1997).  As a community building exercise, the project  developed and implemented shared educational programs for high-school students  and seniors. Using a focus-group technique, seniors  and young people were  brought  together  to design activities such  as photographic community surveys, reminiscence workshops and autobiographical walking tours. The content  of the plans  focused on ‘problems, resources and local improvement strategies’ for each  neighbourhood.

The project  was  evaluated by the participants on a qualitative basis,  with gains  reported in improved intergenerational links;  understanding and solidarity (p. 216, p. 218);  the development of a greater  sense  of ‘community responsibility’ on the part of the younger people (p. 220);  and an increase in a ‘sense  of cultural  continuity’ (p. 224).  The costs of the project  were  limited  to incidental expenses, as most of the work  was  done  by college students as practicum and their lecturers. In this case  the cost-benefits are at least 1 to 2.2 (assuming program costs of $1 000 and only  one child  welfare notification prevented, costed  on the figures in Stubbs  & Storer 1996).

Senior Companions—National  Senior Service Corps

Of course, seniors  do more than volunteer to help  young people. They also form a large  part of the total number of volunteers—a finding  sustained in all English-speaking countries (Chappell & Prince  1997; David & Patterson, 1997; Greely  1997; Warburton  et al. 1998).  This research demonstrates that community input  by seniors  is more likely than input  by younger people to arise  from a sense  of social  value  and belonging and to take  the form of service  to others.  Some US research shows  a positive correlation with religious practice (Greely 1997), and in all countries volunteering among  older  people is positively correlated with higher  than average levels  of formal education. However, there  is also a potential for greater levels  of volunteering among  retired  people that remains untapped. Caro and Bass (1997)  identify  the two years  immediately following retirement as the time of life when  receptivity to volunteering is high.  This suggests that policy and practice should  focus on those  about  to, or who  have just retired  from the workforce and be focused on those  groups that do not already show  high levels  of volunteering. Yet there  are relatively few programs specifically to recruit  seniors  as volunteers, and even  fewer  evaluations of programs, despite the widespread rhetoric  about  the value  of seniors  as an element of strength  in communities.

One major seniors’  volunteer program  that has been  evaluated is the NSSC Senior  Companions Program.  This program  facilitates senior  volunteers to assist  adults  who  require support. The areas  of need  are usually relate  to health  or other social  and personal needs. The tasks  include simple  chores, shopping, providing transport  and social  contact.  The formal objectives are for seniors  to ‘…provide the essential services that enable frail older  Americans to continue to live in their own  homes’  (Senior  Corps, 2000b,  p. 1). The volunteers may  also provide in-home support  as live-in  carers  for short periods.

In 1997, the program  had 13 900 active  volunteers nationally who  served  48 900 clients through  11.8 million  hours  of service  (a mean  average of approximately 16 hours  per week per volunteer). As with the Foster Grandparent program, the majority  of the volunteers in the Senior  Companions Program  were  women, although the exact  proportion was  slightly  reduced at 85 per cent.  Again,  similar  to the previous program, approximately 50 per cent were  white Americans and 50 per cent all other ethnic  groupings (including Black,  Hispanic, Asian and Native Americans). Also, very  similarly, 51 per cent of the senior  volunteers were  aged between 70 and 79 years; however a slightly  large  proportion (35 per cent)  was  aged  between 60 and 69 years  and the remaining 14 per cent aged  80 years  and over.  Of the clients, 14 per cent were  aged  under  65 years, 24 per cent were  aged  between 65 and 74 years, 36 per cent were  aged  between 75 and 84 years  and the remaining 26 per cent were  aged 85 years  and over.  The funding for the program  was  nearly US$51 million  of which  just over US$31 million  (61 per cent)  came  from Federal  Project Grants Allocation. This constitutes an annual mean  average of US$3 622 per volunteer or US$1 041 per client.

At present, it is difficult  to determine a direct  Australian comparison, as there  is no single organising body.  Some similarities are to be found  in community groups, including seniors’ clubs,  churches and service  organisations, but, as noted  above, their activities are fragmented.

However, Australian seniors  constitute a major element of health  provision through  the volunteer drivers’  scheme in which  retired  people provide transport  to and from medical services, especially outpatient clinics,  for people who  are frail, have  a disability or have  a social need  for assistance. The amount  that this voluntary work  would otherwise cost has not been  estimated, but some  cost-benefits of voluntary work  provided by seniors  for seniors  may be calculated. The current  costs of a Community Care Package in Australia  is approximately $8 410 (mean average per place), although there  is a shortfall  of daily  living  needs assistance like  that provided by the US Senior  Companions Program  (Australian Institute  of Health  and Welfare  1999, p. 176).  Such a program  in Australia  therefore might be expected to contribute an effective  addition to overall  provision at a cost of approximately 20 per cent of the equivalent in additional formal services. This does  not include the benefits  to senior  volunteers of maintaining active  engagement with the community which  may  be expected to increase the cost-benefit.

Environmental Alliance for Seniors Involvement

On a larger  community scale,  the American  Association of Retired  Persons  reached an agreement in 1991 with the US Environmental Protection  Agency  to organise seniors  as volunteers in environmental development projects  (EASI, 2000).  In less than a decade the Environmental Alliance  for Senior  Involvement (EASI) has grown  from 26 to over 10 000 seniors and links  with 12 000 local  organisations, with funding from a combination of federal and state governments and private  sector  organisations (including charitable donation). The budget has increased from US$10 000 in 1991 to US$2.3 million  in 1999. This represents a shift from a mean  average of US$385 per volunteer to US$230 per volunteer, while at the same  time achieving a major increase in projects  supported and positive environmental impact  promoted. The projects  include direct  work,  such  as clearing degraded land,  revitalising development areas, planting community gardens and working as ‘teachers’ and mentors  to young people.

5.3   Seniors and intergenerational—conclusions

The conclusions that may  be drawn  from this evidence are that programs to facilitate  seniors contributing voluntary effort in the community are most effective  when  they  receive infrastructure funding and when  they  are organised or coordinated. The levels  of funding required are low  in comparison to the costs of professional services, but the work  that can be performed is of a different  nature.  However, there  are benefits  arising  from the voluntary work of seniors  that augments professional effort. These  are to be found  in social  and community integration; support  for children and families; youth  and community projects  that would otherwise not be available; and there  are the positive gains  for seniors  themselves from having an active  and valued role.  Some programs described here  have  quantifiable cost-benefits in the short term, while all have  predictable longer-term cost-benefits (although these  are less easy  to quantify). However, it is clear  that these  longer-term benefits  are key  elements of stronger communities and the development of social  capital.

Table 4: Summary of seniors and intergenerational programs reviewed
Program/ Project Title Program/ Project Description 1 Target Community/ Group 2 Funding  sources Project Costs 3 Outcomes4 Evaluation5 Contact Details
Supporting Grandmothers Atlanta, Georgia (US) Counselling to provide support for grandmothers to provide continuous family-based care for grandchildren. On-going Grandmothers caring for grandchildren — predominantly children from low income and ethnic minority families Federal and state government US$55 000 per year. Social indicators: reduced welfare dependency; increased social capital. Strong communities’ indicators: networks and partnership; local solutions. Qualitative and quantitative data reported. Cost-benefit reported as positive (costs less than formal care plus flow on) but exact figures not available. Not available.
Warm-Line telephone support Oakland, California (US). Information and brief counselling provided by phone, with other community-based support further developed. Six-month pilot Grandparents caring for grandchildren. Federal and state government plus private sources. US$18 000 over six months Social indicators: reduced welfare dependency; increased social capital. Strong communities’ indicators: networks and partnership; local solutions. Qualitative and quantitative data reported. Cost-benefit ratio of 1 to 14 or greater. Not available.
School-based health and social support Manhattan, New York (US) Case management of access to support services to assist grandparents in providing continuous care. On-going. Grandparents caring for grandchildren. Source not given. Estimated equivalent: $30 000 per year. Social indicators: reduced welfare dependency; increased social capital. Strong communities’ indicators: networks and partnership; local solutions. Qualitative and quantitative data reported. Estimated cost-benefit ratio of 1 to 2.3 Not available.
Grandparenting skills’ education Tempe, Arizona (US) To assist grandparents to develop better skills in relating to grandchildren as an aspect of stronger community through intergenerational ties. 12-week programs. Grandparents of children in local school. Source not given. Estimated equivalent: $9 500 per program Social indicators: increased social capital. Strong communities’ indicators: knowledge/ skills and volunteering; networks and partnerships. Qualitative and quantitative data reported. No clear financial cost-benefit calculable Not available.
Grandparent volunteers in schools Tempe, Arizona (US) Coordination for involvement of grandparents as volunteers in local schools. Short-term. Seniors with grandchildren in local schools, where volunteers are needed as classroom assistants. Source not given. Estimated equivalent: $10 000 per year. Social indicators: increased social capital. Strong communities’ indicators: knowledge/ skills and volunteering; networks and partnerships. Qualitative and quantitative data reported. Insubstantial data on cost-benefits. Not available.
Across Ages/ Linking Lifetimes Philadelphia, Penn (US) Case management of seniors as volunteer mentors for young people. On-going. Seniors acting as volunteer mentors to younger people in local community. Source not given. Estimated equivalent: $15 000 per year per program of 20 ‘links’ supported. Social indicators: strengthened local economic capacity; reduced crime; better health outcomes; increased social capital. Strong communities’ indicators: knowledge/ skills and volunteering; networks and partnerships; community capacity to use best practice. Qualitative and quantitative data reported. Limited data on cost-benefits — anticipated future community gains in the flow-on effects of networking and social confidence of young adults. Not available.
National Senior Service Corps — Foster Grandparents US —National. co-ordination of volunteer surrogate grandparents. On-going, long-term. Assisting families in need of general support by utilising the volunteer effort of seniors in the community. Federal and state, plus private. US$109 million per year. Social indicators: reduced welfare dependency; better health outcomes; increased social capital. Strong communities’ indicators: knowledge/ skills and volunteering; networks and partnerships; local solutions to local problems. Qualitative data (Freedman 1997); quantitative data (NSCC web site). Estimated cost-benefit ratio of 1 to 2.3 National Senior Service Corps website
Neighbourhood 2000/ Downtown 2000 New York/Honolulu (US) School students and seniors sharing in community building programs. Short-term (c. 3 months). Seniors as advisers and a resource for school students in community building projects. Source not given. US$1 000 per project as incidental expenses. Social indicators: reduced crime; increased social capital. Strong communities’ indicators: knowledge/ skills and volunteering; networks and partnerships; local solutions to local problems; community capacity to use best practice. Qualitative data only. Cost-benefits can only be assumed from evidence of other studies in terms of reduced vandalism/ crime and future economic potential of positive community life. Not available.
National Senior Service Corps—Senior Companions US—National. Coordination of volunteer personal care. On-going, long-term. Seniors providing general personal care for frail and disabled people in local community. Federal and state, plus private. US$51 million per year. Social indicators: reduced welfare dependency; better health outcomes; increased social capital. Strong communities’ indicators: knowledge/ skills and volunteering; networks and partnerships; community capacity to use best practice. Qualitative data (Freedman 1997); quantitative data (NSCC web site). Estimated cost-benefit ratio of 20 per cent increase in effort. National Senior Service Corps web site.
Environmental Alliance for Senior Involvement US—National. coordination of seniors as volunteers in environmental projects. On-going, long-term. Seniors providing skills and knowledge to community environmental projects. Federal and state, plus private. US$2.3 million per year. Social indicators: increased social capital. Strong communities’ indicators: knowledge/ skills and volunteering; networks and partnerships; leadership in communities; local solutions to local problems; community capacity to use best practice. Qualitative and quantitative data reported. Unit costs, but limited cost-benefit information beyond that which can be assumed from community building. EASI website.
  1. Description of project  aima  and location. Pilot, one-off,  or on-going. Project length.
  2. By geographic location/region and/or community of interest.
  3. Name of funding program/s  or funding sources, total project  costs (direct  and indirect).
  4. General  effectiveness/outcomes as well  as social  indicators and stronger  communities indicators.
  5. Quantitative and/or qualitative evaluation. Availability of cost-benefit data.

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6. Conclusion

Much of the literature relating to the notion  of strong  communities is framed  within  the context of the changing nature  of society  and the associated fragmentation of communities and social ties which  results  in a range  of poor social  outcomes (Cox 1995; Morrison et al. 1997; Graycar & Nelson 1999).

Strong communities are defined variously in the literature. A number of authors  refer to the development of a ‘civil society’  in which  strength  is achieved through  the development of social  capital. Social  capital  can be said  to include trust; cooperation; time to engage with fellow  citizens; voluntarism; a sense  of belonging to one’s  community; and democratic structures  that involve  citizens  (Cox 1995).  Others refer to a healthy community, which incorporates the physical, mental  and social  wellbeing of people (Rosenfeld 1997, cited  in Baum  et al. 1999).  A healthy community may  be described as one that:

  • provides a clean, safe physical environment;
  • meets  the basic  needs of residents;
  • has residents that respect and support  each  other;
  • involves the community in local  government;
  • promotes and celebrate its historical and cultural  heritage;
  • provides easily accessible health  services;
  • has a diverse, innovative economy; and
  • rests on a sustainable ecosystem (Ontario  Healthy  Communities Coalition  2000).

As discussed in chapter  1, the key  elements of stronger  communities are knowledge and community skills  including volunteering; networks and partnerships in communities; leadership in communities; local  solutions to local  problems; and community capacity to use best practice.

The consistent elements in all of the materials cited  relating to stronger/healthy communities are the importance of a sense  of connectedness between people, and between people and their community in an environment in which  all people are able  to participate to their full potential.

The economic costs of poor social  outcomes such  a juvenile delinquency, child  abuse/ maltreatment, homelessness and unemployment are cited  in a range  of literature. For example, the total expenditure on child  abuse and neglect in South Australia  in 1995-96 is estimated at $354.92  million  with an additional $303.33  million  attributable to associated issues  (child abuse-related deaths, disability, injury  and impairment) (South  Australian Office for Families and Children  and the Australian Institute  of Family  Studies  1999).  Stubbs  and Storer (1999) state that each  incidence of entry  into care  per child  is $3 660. Juvenile incarceration is costed at anything between $50 000 and $83 000 per person  per year  (Potas  et al. 1989; Graycar  & Nelson 1999),  which  is 12 or 13 times more expensive than probation and community service orders  (Potas  et al. 1989).  Homelessness has been  cited  as costing  $7 400 per person  per year,(Dixon  1993) or a total of $574 million  (1994 Australian dollars) (Pinkney & Ewing 1997 as quoted  in Chamberlain & MacKenzie  1998).

At the same  time however, it is argued that a large  number of poor social  outcomes are preventable. This is highlighted by the claim  that if public  expenditure to address preventable problems can be reduced by five per cent,  the state will  save  over US$3 for every  US$1 invested in prevention or early  intervention initiatives (Iowa  Kids Count Initiative  1995).  Also, that a homelessness prevention strategy that costs $100 million  per year  would break  even  at a success rate of only  21 per cent (Pinkney & Ewing 1997, cited  in Chamberlain & MacKenzie 1998).  Further,  it is argued that a neighbourhood improvement program costing  $100 million over 13 years  could  produce a cost benefit  ratio of 1:17 if the social  problems on the Airds estate  in New South Wales  (NSW) were  reduced to the NSW average, or put another  way, a reduction in social  problems by a mere  3.7 per cent would ensure the program broke  even (Stubbs  & Storer, 1996).

It is therefore hardly  surprising that increasing emphasis has been  placed on prevention and early  intervention strategies. These  are cited  as being  successful in terms of both the dollar value  of programs as well  as building stronger  and healthy communities (Greenwood 1999; Bright 1997; Morrison et al. 1997; Tomison  & Wise 1999; McCain & Mustard  1999; Krisberg 1992, cited  in Krisberg  & Austin 1993).  In a range  of literature, this is presented in terms of increasing ‘protective factors’ and reducing ‘risk factors’ which  fall into four categories: community; school;  family;  and peer/individual. Indeed  some  programs specifically identify community disorganisation and low  neighbourhood attachments as key  risk factors,  with the corresponding protective factor being  strengthened communities (Bright  1997).

Despite  the success of a range  of prevention and early  intervention programs, it is consistently argued that the disadvantages experienced by children, families  and the community will  not be solved  by ameliorative programs alone, and that structural  causes must also be addressed. Examples of structural  causes cited  are changes in employment patterns  (such  as the decline in manufacturing jobs);  the economy and technology; increased suburbanisation; globalisation of jobs and changes in family  structures (Tomison  & Wise 1999; Zigler & Styfco 1996; Greenwood 1999; Bright 1997; Dixon 1993; Krisberg  & Austin 1993; Blumstein 1998, cited  in Krisberg  & Austin 1993; Graycar  & Nelson 1999; Morrison et al. 1997).

A number of programs cited  include cost-benefit analyses that highlight the economic savings that can be achieved through  prevention and early  intervention (see  Table  5). These  findings indicate that there  is an economic argument for government intervention through  supporting community-based prevention and early  intervention programs. Longer-term  cost-benefits are more  difficult  to quantify. However, there  is secondary evidence that in each  case  cited  the cumulative gains  are potentially substantial. Future continuing reductions in crime  from the development of community links,  networks, knowledge and skills  and life opportunities provide the basis  for the increase of strong  local  economic capacity and associated reductions in long-term unemployment of young people. Table  5 contains  a summary of the benefit-cost calculations that could  be gleaned from the literature surveyed in this study.

As well  as the economic benefits, many  programs referred  to outcomes that are linked both directly and indirectly to the stronger  communities’ indicators that appear in the project  brief. The indicators are knowledge and community skills  including volunteering; networks and partnerships in communities; leadership in communities; local  solutions to local  problems; and community capacity to use best practice. Examples include the Health  Development and Social Capital  Project;  the Families  and Schools  Together  program (FAST); the Croydon  Good Neighbourhood Program;  the Work Force Youth Unemployment Prevention Program;  the Youth Support  Coordinator Initiative;  Across Ages/Linking  lifetimes, and Neighbourhood  2000/ Downtown 2000.

The indicators that were  most frequently identified as direct  outcomes of programs were knowledge and community skills,  including volunteering; leadership in communities; local solutions for local  problems; and networks and partnerships in communities. While  not referred  to explicitly, it can be extrapolated that many  of the programs would have  also achieved outcomes in relation  to the other stronger  communities’ indicator, but were  not reported on using  the same  language. For example, the notion  of best practice is relatively new  in terms of some  of the literature that was  cited.

The notion  of outcomes having  potential flow on to other areas  was  highlighted in the Department of Social  Security’s (as it then was)  report  on the Community Research Project (Smith & Herbert  1997).  Specifically, it stated  that changes could  be effected  in a range  of living  standards and that a change in one living  standard area  was  highly likely to produce changes in other living  standard areas  (p. 63). Although  this is evident in relation  to some  of the programs discussed, it is probable that more  of the program  outcomes could  have  had flow-on  effects into other areas  but that this has not been  reported in the literature. This could be either  because the research did not specifically examine this issue,  or that when  reported on in secondary sources, the author/s have  not included this information.

A factor identified by Smith and Herbert  (1997,  pp. 20–1) that was  clear  in many  of the programs discussed here  is the propensity of prevention and early  programs to create  ‘first order’  and ‘second  order’  outcomes. Put simply, first order  outcomes are those  in which  there is an immediate or short-term  specific  benefit—a service  is provided, a problem resolved, a gain  is made  in a particular aspect  of community life. Second  order  outcomes are those  that create  opportunities that may  be the basis  of a tangible benefit  at a later date.  These  include the long-term implications of skills  and knowledge development; of confidence in leadership; or of capacity to draw  on best practice in finding  local  solutions to local  problems.

Despite  the availability of information on the costs and evaluative findings  for some  programs, there  is clearly a need  for recording of more  detailed information and for evaluations to be explicitly linked to the early  stage  of project  development and implementation. This is evidenced by the fact that a large  number of programs were  identified that appeared to relate to the theme  of stronger  communities, but could  not be included due  to the absence of any evaluation because the literature did not contain  sufficient  information. Of the evaluations that were  conducted, they  varied  in time and space. Some were  undertaken at the time that the program was  implemented, while others  were  constructed in hindsight after the program  had concluded. In addition, others  were  undertaken some  time later for the purposes of an entirely different  research objective. Inconsistency in what  was  evaluated was  also evident, with some evaluations relating more  to the administration of a program  rather  than the social  objectives. This led to differing  data  within  the literature being  elicited and prevented direct  comparisons between programs.

In the Australian context,  there  is also a need  for more accessible evaluations of programs in Aboriginal communities. Those few programs that explicitly reported Aboriginal issues  suggest that a social  capital  perspective has much  to offer. The present emphasis on alcohol abuse and juvenile crime  reduction in discussions of programs and a lack  of widely available evaluations, while perhaps necessary, does  perpetuate a deficit  and problem focus that can be limiting.

This study  has also identified a number of other areas  in which  further work  may  be beneficial. Some of these  are quite  specific, and are detailed in the relevant chapters. Two stand  out for particular comment. First, the work  of Hawkins, Catalano and their associates at University of Washington, Seattle,  is referred  to in many  sources used  here.  An extensive review of the primary  references to this body  of work  has not revealed any  published evidence of specific  cost-benefit figures,  although the Communities that Care programs are widely regarded as returning positive cost savings (Toumbourou 1999).  Future evaluations may produce more  specific  figures. Second, there  are a large  number of small  Australian programs, about  which  the authors  of this study  have  been  able  to gain  only  anecdotal evidence. (These include the study  by Kippax  of youth  homelessness programs (see  chapter  4), and the Seniors Helping at Risk intergenerational program in Western  Australia  (see  chapter  5)).  Further evaluative work  to identify  these  locally focused, community-based and usually locally led programs would create  a rich set of data  that would further extend our knowledge about effectiveness in this area.

Nonetheless, this meta-analysis of evaluations in prevention and early  intervention programs demonstrates that the cost-benefits of strengthening communities can be seen  in both economic and social  aspects. However, many  of the programs cited  were  developed in response to particular social  indicators (such  as juvenile crime,  poor educational achievement, homelessness) rather  than being  established with the primary  objective of strengthening communities. In addition, most programs were  delivered within  a context  narrower than the broader community, for example, within  schools  or families. Notwithstanding, explicit links  to the broader community was  a critical  component to the success of many  programs. It can therefore be concluded that programs delivered in environments such  as schools  and families are capable of producing outcomes than contribute to stronger  and healthier communities. Further examination of prevention and early  intervention as strategies for community building that focus on strengthening communities as a means  of developing social  capital  is warranted. Attention  is now  turned  to a review of the specific  conclusions which  might be drawn  from the various  areas  covered in this study.

6.1   Community wellbeing

The chapter  on community wellbeing showed that there  is increasing recognition of the importance of community participation and the role that community groups  play  in developing healthy communities. In particular, findings  indicate that:

  • the building of trust and reciprocity leads  to an increase in social  capital, which  is an important  ingredient of healthy communities; and
  • there  is significant research to support  the notion  that people with diverse networks of quality relationships are healthier than people who  are socially isolated. (In this context, health  refers to the physical, mental  and social  wellbeing of people.)

Keys to building healthier, and therefore stronger, communities are:

  • structures  in place  to identify  community leaders and other highly motivated community members; and
  • the inputs  of relevant professionals working in the community are mobilised and where these  skills  are utilised in a multi-disciplinary framework.

The building of social  capital  through  community-based programs is also facilitated where opportunities exist  to:

  • enable skills’  development in areas  such  as organising groups, running meetings, lobbying, writing  of grant applications, and so on;
  • enable the identification of funding sources and the capacity to bid for these  funds;
  • build  better links  with other community groups  and organisations; and
  • publicise achievements and,  in turn, to access information about  other communities’achievements.

6.2   Early childhood and families

The literature reviewed in chapter  3 clearly establishes the benefits  of community-based early childhood and family  prevention and intervention and programs. The benefits  arise  from both the cost effectiveness of many  of the programs as well  as in building stronger  and healthier families  and,  in turn stronger  and healthier communities. The premise for early  childhood prevention and early  intervention programs is the recognition that a child’s  development in the first few years  of life sets the foundation for lifelong learning, behaviour and health  outcomes.

It is apparent from the review of the literature in chapter  3 that:

  • a combined approach which  links  community-based programs with individual prevention and ameliorative programs targeted to at-risk  children provides superior outcomes;
  • similar  conclusions can be drawn  for family  support  programs—community-based programs build  resilience and protective factors which  address the structural  causes of disadvantage in ways  which  are not addressed by individual programs alone;
  • by building social  networks and empowering communities, self-reliance and protective factors are strengthened (and  there  is some  evidence that dependency on individual programs is thereby reduced); and
  • because of the complexity and multi-dimensional nature  of many  social  problems affecting children and families  (for example, child  abuse, maltreatment, and so on),  community- based  initiatives that are integrated with government programs, and which  address combinations of problems, are likely to produce more  socially and cost-effective results.

Chapter  3 shows  the importance of prevention and intervention programs that are initiated early in the child’s  life. When  programs are directed at families  whose children have  yet to complete primary  school,  they  are more effective  in terms of social  outcomes (such  as reduced substance abuse, reduced maltreatment, reduced future  involvement with the justice  system, increased school  completion rates,  future  employment, and so on).  In this way, education and schools, alongside the active  involvement of parents  and other primary  care  givers,  play  a crucial role in children’s social  development. As a consequence, considerably greater  cost- benefits  may  be seen  in terms of program  expenditure per participant.

6.3   Young people

There is overwhelming evidence that for many  community-based programs directed at the early prevention of social  disadvantage through  unemployment or homelessness and/or anti-social behaviours in young people, economic and social  benefits  are delivered way  in excess of the costs of the programs. Key factors which  contribute to effective  programs are that:

  • it is important  that programs address the whole-of-community—society-wide social  and economic forces which  impact  upon  young people make  it difficult  for some  of them to avoid  the risk factors which  lead  to unemployment or homelessness or to destructive or anti-social behaviours; and
  • whole-of-person and whole-of-community approaches which  coordinate appropriate service  delivery are more  likely to address these  society-wide factors through  building resilience and protective barriers.

A dominant theme  in the literature was  the claim  schools  are critical  in terms of laying the foundation for healthy participation in society. This is emphasised by Potas et al. (1990)  who claim  that ‘instructionally effective’  schools  are also effective  in reducing the potential for individuals to engage in delinquency. In addition, such  schools  increase the chances of achieving the educational and social  skills  necessary to enter  employment and to avoid marginalisation. Examples discussed in chapters 4 and 5 are High/Scope  Perry Preschool Project;  Project Head  Start; FAST; Success  for All; K-Six Early Intervention Partnership; Youth Support  Coordinator Initiative;  Across Ages/Linking  Lifetimes;  and the Manhattan  and Arizona intergenerational programs.

In terms of the school  environments, communication and effectiveness is facilitated:

  • through  a coordinated approach which  involves both school  staff and professional external agencies;
  • when  the level  of community involvement is high,  such  that there  are effective  partnerships between the school  and members of the local  community (including partnerships with business people, churches, sporting  and social  organisations), and a capacity for working with families;
  • by a different  management structure  to the school’s  management structure  assists  in achieving these  factors;
  • when  there  is active  parent  involvement; and
  • where Indigenous communities are actively involved in and exercise leadership and control programs for Indigenous young people.

In the area  of crime  prevention, early  intervention is crucial:

  • in minimising future  involvement as an offender  in the criminal justice  system—the more that young people become involved in the criminal justice  system, the more  likely it is that they  will  continue to offend;  and
  • in reducing the costs of crime—both prosecution of crime  and incarceration are expensive and far in excess of the cost of effective  prevention and early  intervention programs.

In addition:

  • small-size programs (with  small  case  loads)  appear to be more effective  than larger-scale programs;
  • programs which  include job training  appear to reduce recidivism, as well  as reduce substance abuse and other destructive behaviour; and
  • these  programs also tend to engender a preference for work  over welfare.

6.4   Seniors and intergenerational programs

Seniors  are often addressed by social  policy as the recipients of services. While  this is important, it is not the whole picture. Seniors  also embody much  accumulated social  capital, and they  often exercise local  leadership and provide a major source  of voluntary effort. The conclusions which  may  be drawn  from the evidence discussed in chapter  5 are that:

  • programs to facilitate  seniors  contributing voluntary effort in the community are most effective  when  they  receive infrastructure funding and when  they  are organised and coordinated;
  • the levels  of funding for volunteer activities are low  in comparison to the costs of professional services;
  • the work  that can be performed is of a different  nature—however, there  are benefits  arising from the voluntary work  of seniors  that augments professional effort;
  • there  are the positive gains  for seniors  themselves from having  an active  and valued role; and
  • some  programs described here  have  quantifiable cost-benefits in the short term (first order), while all have  predictable longer-term cost-benefits (although these  are less easy  to quantify) (second order)—however, it is clear  that these  longer-term benefits  are key elements in stronger  communities and the development of social  capital.

6.5   Overall summary of conclusions

Although  there  are some  quite  significant differences between the four major areas  of programs that have  been  examined in this study,  there  are also several key  issues  that may  be identified as general findings  that span  the field.

First, the clear  predominance of programs either  based  in schools, or working through  schools as a community resource has already been  noted.  Not only  are schools  essential for the development of future generations of citizens  (investing in social  capital), but also schools  are a focal point  for most communities. They could  more explicitly be seen  as a community resource in this respect. Networks  develop around focal points,  shared interests  and opportunities for people to meet.

Second, best practice in prevention and early  intervention and best practice in the community building have  much  in common.  Not only  are prevention and early  intervention best located in community settings, and most effective  when  they  are responsive to local  conditions, but community building too may  be more effective  when  it is addressed at an early  stage  of problems in community being  identified.

Third, inheritance of social  capital  requires that it is actively passed on between generations and nurtured by older  members of communities. The intergenerational programs discussed in chapter  5 should  not be seen  in isolation, but many  of them could  be viewed from the perspective of the other main  areas. Communities consist  of all generations, and strong communities show  evidence of positive intergenerational relationships.

Fourth, community involvement and participation is a factor in all community- based  programs. This includes local  leadership, volunteering, civic trust, networks and partnerships between people and between institutions. Where  professionals are involved, they  are more effective from a community building perspective if they  are responsive to local  context,  work  in a multi-disciplinary way  and,  as much  as possible, adopt  a facilitative approach. It is also an indicator of strength  in communities when  the various  sectors  (government, business, non- government welfare, community groups and individuals) work  together  towards positive social outcomes.

Fifth, government support  for programs is appropriate for two reasons. It is important  as seed money, especially in communities where the erosion  of civil society  can be seen  to have  had an impact  (through rising  crime  rates,  high  levels  of child  abuse, isolation of seniors, and so on).  At the same  time, there  is strong  evidence that by adopting an active  role in community building, there  is great  potential for government to make  downstream savings on the projected levels  of spending on the resolution of social  problems. Early intervention programs that encourage community building are cost-effective.

Sixth, although many  of the programs reviewed in this study  have  a family  focus,  this is not in contradiction with community building. The programs that have  been  examined all achieve the promotion of stronger  communities, and many  of them do so through the interventions with families  on which  they  are based. Families  are a key  element to strong  communities because they  are a primary  building block  of the social  fabric.

Of the general conclusions that may  be drawn, the final two particular points  are those  that most over-arch the study  as a whole. This study  posed  two principal questions of the Stronger Communities Strategy  (see  chapter  1, p. 8):

  • What is the evidence that prevention and early  intervention programs promote  the development of stronger  communities and create  measurable positive social  outcomes?
  • What is the evidence that there  is a cost-benefit to be achieved by government supporting such  programs?

Substantial evidence to answer these  questions has been  presented in the preceding chapters and summarised in this conclusion. From this evidence, it may  be concluded that:

  • prevention and early  intervention programs do contribute to the promotion of strong communities and to positive social  outcomes—furthermore, they  do so in a way  that enables communities to continue to deal  with issues  through  their own  resilience and capacities; and
  • prevention and early  intervention programs contribute to community building and positive social  outcomes in a cost-effective way—these cost-benefits are demonstrably cumulative in many  instances.

Through  a meta-analysis of available evaluative literature, this study  has demonstrated the value of prevention and early  intervention programs as a key  dimension to the promotion of stronger  communities that display the characteristics of a civil society  in which  social  capital  is nurtured for the benefit  of the whole community.

Table 5: Summary of benefit-cost analysis of programs surveyed
Program Jurisdiction Target group—issues Benefit-cost Chapter
Iowa Blueprint Investment Strategy and Iowa Kids Count Initiative Iowa, United States (US). Community—remedial services (health, education and human services); adult dependence (welfare and health care costs); and public protection (juvenile and adult corrections). If public expenditure to address preventable problems can be reduced by 5%, the savings would be over US$108 million, or US$3 for every US$1 invested in prevention initiatives, and by more than five times the cost (that is, US$5 for each US$1) if other potential gains were factored in (for example, increased tax revenues from a more productive workforce). Chapters 2 and 3
Department of Housing, NSW, Neighbourhood Improvement Program Airds Estate, western suburbs of Sydney. Community in public estates—cost to the community of crime, family and community stress, unemployment, and so on. Total cost of social problems in Airds is $28.5 million per year, or 17 times annual cost of the program—that is the benefits are $17 for every $1 outlaid on the program. If social problems were reduced to NSW average, cost-benefit ratio would be 1:17 (a saving of $18 million per year). Costbenefit estimated to be 1:6, that is the value of the benefits are $6 for every $1 outlaid on the program (short-term). Program would break even with reduction in social problems by 3.7%. Chapter 2
Community Research Project Australia. Communities with high unemployment, dependence on income support and undergoing economic decline. To test the potential of particular communitybased services to improve living standards of those on low incomes. Eighty community-based initiatives funded for 12 months at an average cost of $18 208. Qualitative data show that 59% of the projects produced observable benefits in living standard areas; 56% reported achieving substantial living standard gains; while 26% reported success in achieving some living standard gains and 18% had only minimal effects on targeted living standard areas. Full benefit-cost analysis not undertaken. Chapter 2
South Australia Office for Families and Children and the Australian Institute of Family Studies South Australia. Child abuse and neglect Total expenditure directly attributable to child maltreatment estimated as $354.92 million. Potential savings through effective prevention program identified. Recommends a minimum expenditure of 1% of cost of child abuse ($3.5 million) for a prevention program. Seen as a modest investment relative to potential gains. Full benefit-cost analysis not undertaken. Chapter 3
The Early Years Study Ontario, Canada, Children—how the lives of young children, including those with special needs or at-risk could be enhanced for educational, career and social success. Expenditures for early childhood far exceed expenditures for older children and adults ($2 800 per year for children up to six years, and $7 250 per year for children, six to 18). Increased community-based initiatives and investment, both public and private, enhances communities through a range of effective strategies. No formal cost-benefit undertaken. Chapter 3
High/Scope Perry Preschool Project Michigan, US. Children—participation in an active approach to learning, facilitated by trained teachers. Home visits a component of the program to reinforce the school curriculum. Total benefits six times the cost of a one-year program and three times the cost of a two-year program. Cost-benefit analysis estimated that, when children were 19, there had been a return of US$4 for every US$1 spent. When calculated at 27 years, estimated benefit-cost was US$7 for every US$1 spent on the preschool program. Chapter 3
Project Head Start Throughout the US. Preschool children aged 3 to 5 years from disadvantaged backgrounds. Estimated as similar to High/Scope Perry Preschool Project, although such estimates are controversial in many cases, they are inferred from High/Scope Perry. Chapter 3
Families and Schools Together Nine Victorian Schools. Collaborative, school-based early intervention program for children and families. Qualitative and quantitative evaluation built into each program. Various evaluations show extensive favourable results, short-term and longitudinal. Some cost data is available. For example, average cost per family over two-year program was estimated to be from $1 266 to $1 900 and approximately US$1 200. No full cost-benefit undertaken. Chapter 3
Success for All Originated in Baltimore, US. Extended elsewhere in US. For disadvantaged students from kindergarten to grade five. Program evaluation undertaken including an estimated US$800 cost per student additional to a school’s usual allowance. Savings in grades not being repeated and reduced special education placements were calculated to offset program costs. Chapter 3
Provence Group Approach New Haven, Hamden and West Haven, Connecticut, US. Disadvantaged mothers from pregnancy to 30 months after birth. Five-year follow up and a ten-year longitudinal study. Cost estimates of the program include US$20 000 (in 1982 dollars) per family. Welfare and services savings of US$40 000 (1982 dollars) estimated for families in the program compared to a control group. Thus benefit-cost ratio of 2:1—that is the value of the benefits is US$2 for every US$1 outlaid on the program Chapter 3
K-Six Early Intervention Partnership Fresno, California and expanded elsewhere in the US. High-risk families. Qualitative and quantitative evaluation. Cost estimate is overall program budget US$1.2 million. Estimated program cost per family—US$375. No formal cost-benefit analysis undertaken. Chapter 3
Job Corps US. Unemployed youth selected from an at-risk population with regards to juvenile delinquency. For every US$1 invested, there is a return of US$1.45, so cost-benefit ratio is 1:1.45. Chapter 4
Family Ties Program New York, U.S 7 to 16 year olds. Evaluation indicates that for every US$1 spent on the program, US$7 savings to the public by averting juvenile placements in detention centres. So The cost-benefit ratio is 1:7. Chapter 4
The Youth Support Coordinator Initiative Queensland Students located in areas with high incidence of youth homelessness and school suspensions and exclusions. Quantitative and qualitative evaluation points to success of program, but no formal cost-benefit analysis available Chapter 4
Peer Group Activities Tyneside, United Kingdom. Comprehensive school. A reduction of 75% in vandalism, but no formal cost-benefit analysis available. Chapter 4
Dalston Youth Project Hackney, London 15 to 18 year olds Estimated value of number of crimes prevented greater than cost of project. No formal cost-benefit analysis available. Chapter 4
Supporting Grandmothers. Atlanta, US. Grandmothers caring for grandchildren—predominantly low-income and ethnic-minority families. Qualitative and quantitative data reported. Cost-benefit reported as positive (costs less than formal care, plus flow on) but exact figures not available. Chapter 5
Warm-Line— telephone support Oakland, California, US. Grandparents caring for grandchildren Qualitative and quantitative data reported. Cost-benefit ratio of 1:14 or greater — that is, the value of the benefits are at least US$14 for every US$1 outlaid on the program. Chapter 5
School-based health and social support New York, US Grandparents caring for grandchildren Qualitative and quantitative data reported. Estimated costbenefit ratio of 1:2.3, that is the value of the benefits are at least US$2.30 for every US$1 outlaid on the program. Chapter 5
Grandparenting skills education Tempe, Arizona, US programs. Grandparents of children in local school Qualitative and quantitative data reported. No clear financial cost-benefit calculable. Chapter 5
Across Ages/ Linking Lifetimes Philadelphia, Penn . US. Seniors acting as volunteer mentors to younger people in local community. Qualitative and quantitative data reported. Limited data on costs and benefits, but formal cost-benefit analysis not performed. Chapter 5
Senior Corps— Foster Grandparents US. Assisting families in need of general support by utilising the volunteer effort of seniors in the community. Qualitative data (Freedman 1997); quantitative data (NSCC website). Estimated cost-benefit ratio of 1:2.32, that is the value of the benefits are at least US$2.32 for every US$1 outlaid on the program. Chapter 5
Neighbourhood 2000/ Downtown 2000 New York, Honolulu, US. Seniors as advisors and a resource for school students in community building projects. Qualitative data only. Cost-benefits can only be assumed from evidence of other studies in terms of reduced vandalism/crime and future economic potential of positive community life. On this basis, cost-benefit ratio estimated to be at least 1:2.2, that is the value of the benefits are at least US$2.20 for every US$1 outlaid on the program. Chapter 5
National Senior Service Corps— Senior Companions US. Seniors providing general personal care for frail people and people with disabilities in local community Qualitative data (Freedman 1997); quantitative data (NSCC web site). Estimated effective voluntary addition to overall social service provision at a cost of 20% of cost of formal services. Thus cost-benefit ratio of 1:5—that is, the value of the benefits are at least US$5 for every US$1 outlaid on the program Chapter 5
Environmental Alliance for Senior Involvement US. Seniors providing skills and knowledge to community environmental projects. Qualitative and quantitative data reported. Low unit costs (between US$230 and US$385 per volunteer), but limited cost-benefit information beyond that which can be assumed from community building. Chapter 5

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