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Are youth mentoring programs good value-for-money? An evaluation of the Big Brothers Big Sisters Melbourne Program

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Author(s): Moodie Marjory | Fisher Jane

Journal: BMC Public Health
ISSN 1471-2458

Volume: 9;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 41;
Date: 2009;
Original page

ABSTRACT
Abstract Background The Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) program matches vulnerable young people with a trained, supervised adult volunteer as mentor. The young people are typically seriously disadvantaged, with multiple psychosocial problems. Methods Threshold analysis was undertaken to determine whether investment in the program was a worthwhile use of limited public funds. The potential cost savings were based on US estimates of life-time costs associated with high-risk youth who drop out-of-school and become adult criminals. The intervention was modelled for children aged 10–14 years residing in Melbourne in 2004. Results If the program serviced 2,208 of the most vulnerable young people, it would cost AUD 39.5 M. Assuming 50% were high-risk, the associated costs of their adult criminality would be AUD 3.3 billion. To break even, the program would need to avert high-risk behaviours in only 1.3% (14/1,104) of participants. Conclusion This indicative evaluation suggests that the BBBS program represents excellent 'value for money'.

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