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Loughborough academics to develop children’s Cost Calculator for Scotland

Loughborough University’s Centre for Child and Family Research (CCFR) has been commissioned by the Scottish Government to develop the Cost Calculator for Children’s Services (CCfCS) in Scotland. 

The CCfCS is a tool developed by researchers at the CCFR to help local authorities in England cost the services and placements they provide to looked-after children.

The CCfCS uses the unit costs of social work activities as the basis for building up the costs over time of placements and part placements.

The calculations take into account diversity in children’s needs, placement type and local authority procedures.

Using the CCfCS, a local authority can easily compute short, medium and long-term costs of care for individual children, groups of children with particular needs, or those in specific types of placements, or for the population of looked-after children in their area.

The CCfCS also facilitates an analysis of outcomes. Local authorities can use this information to support and improve the outcomes for looked-after children. The use of a common approach to calculate unit costs introduces greater transparency into cost comparisons.

Samantha McDermid, from CCFR said: “We are delighted to be working with the Scottish Government on this exciting new work.

“The costs programme is well established in England and this project provides us with an important opportunity to extend the programme into Scotland.

“We hope the CCfCS can provide vital evidence to inform the provision of services to looked-after children.”

Two Scottish local authorities are contributing to the development of the CCfCS in Scotland. 

In the next 10 months the local authorities will help the CCFR identify the processes that are involved in looking after children in Scotland and, in focus groups, frontline personnel will share information about activity and time-use associated with the processes. 

This will then inform the adaptation of the current CCfCS, making it suitable for use in Scottish local authorities.

The project has been funded by the Scottish Government and is an important part of their strategic commissioning support programme within local authorities. The research will make an important contribution to the wider national learning about what works for children in local authority care.

The research builds on a number of studies carried out by the CCFR on the costs and outcomes of children’s services for a wide range of families with different levels of need. 

Within the Cost Programme at the CCFR, various research has been completed over the last 10 years to explore the costs and outcomes associated with Multi-dimensional Treatment Foster Care; the Common Assessment Framework; support provided for Children in Need; costs and cost effectiveness of services provided to disabled children; costs of short break services for children with disabilities and their families, and to explore the use of direct payments and introduction of pooled budgets for disabled children and their families.

For more information about the Scottish Cost Calculator for Children’s Services or the Costs Programme of research at CCFR go to http://www.lboro.ac.uk/research/ccfr/research/exploring/ or contact: Samantha McDermid, Senior Research Associate, CCFR, S.McDermid@lboro.ac.uk  or Helen Trivedi, Research Associate, H.L.Trivedi@lboro.ac.uk.