Foyer – Hub and Spoke Model

The Foyer [4] is a great example of a unique way of providing support to youth through transitional housing. Popular in the UK and Australia in particular, it is gaining support and popularity in Canada, including Haven’s Way at the Calgary Boys and Girls Club, New Horizon at Wood’s Homes, also in Calgary and The Foyer project operated by Homeward Trust in Edmonton.  Both Covenant House Toronto and Vancouver have integrated their transitional housing programs with the Foyer model.

The Foyer model can be considered a best practice [5] and there is an extensive body of evaluative research on the model.  There are a broad range of examples of how it has been applied in various forms in the United Kingdom and Australia.

The Foyer model houses youth for longer than is normally the case in transitional housing, provides life skills and the residents are generally employed, attending school/training or both. This is particularly helpful in the case of younger teens and those leaving juvenile detention/corrections centers or child welfare.

The Foyer is very flexible and models of accommodation have included congregate living facilities, scattered site models and approaches that combine the two (Hub and Spoke models). The Rights of Passage program at Covenant House –which is discussed elsewhere in the toolkit—has generally followed a congregate living model. Both Toronto and Vancouver have limited (but expanding) scattered site housing and therefore consider themselves to be developing a Hub and Spoke model.

The research on transitional housing models for youth – including the Foyer – has identified some important characteristics of effective transitional housing models. These include:

  • A focus on helping disadvantaged young people who are homeless or in housing need – including young people leaving care - to achieve the transition to adulthood and from dependence to independence.
  • A developmentally-appropriate environment to build competence and a feeling of achievement.
  • A holistic approach to meeting the young person’s needs based on an understanding of adolescent development.
  • A formal plan and agreement between the Foyer and young person as to how the Foyer’s facilities and local community resources will be used in making the transition to adulthood.
  • A supported transition that is not time limited, in which young people can practice independent living.
  • An investment in education, training, life skills and meaningful engagement in order to improve long-term life chances.
  • The provision of a community of peers and caring adults with emphasis on peer mentoring.
  • The provision of necessary and appropriate aftercare to ensure successful transitions to adulthood and independent living.

[5] An intervention is considered to be a Promising Practice when there is sufficient evidence to claim that the practice is proven effective at achieving a specific aim or outcome, consistent with the goals and objectives of the activity or program. Ideally, Promising Practices demonstrate their effectiveness through the most rigorous scientific research, however there is not enough generalizable evidence to label them ‘best practices’. They do however hold promise for other organizations and entities that wish to adapt the approaches based on the soundness of the evidence. For a more complete discussion of the differences between best, promising and emerging practices see: What Works and For Whom? A Framework for Promising Practices published by the Homeless Hub.