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

Moodie, Marjory L.; Fisher, Jane
January 2009
BMC Public Health;2009, Vol. 9, p41
Academic Journal
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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