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9 June 2006 PR 06/64

Counting the costs of looked-after children
Minister launches pioneering new system

A groundbreaking new computer application, which will help local authorities to calculate the costs of looking after children in their care, is to be launched next week in London.

Funded by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES), the application – the Cost Calculator for Children’s Services – has been developed by the Centre for Child and Family Research at Loughborough University, in collaboration with seven local authorities.

Parmjit Dhanda – Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Education and Skills – will deliver the ministerial address at the launch, which takes place on Wednesday 14 June. The event is being chaired by Naomi Eisenstadt, the Secretary of State’s chief adviser on children’s services.

Over 120 delegates from all over England will also have the opportunity to hear from the researchers and local authority representatives involved in the development of this pioneering product and see a live demonstration.

The Cost Calculator is an easy-to-use, flexible programme that will enable local authorities to determine the costs of the placements and services provided to looked-after children. Users can easily work out the short-, medium- and long-term costs of care for each child, for groups of children or for the population of looked-after children. Summary reports can also be created and a ‘What If?’ facility allows different types of care packages to be compared.

“We are delighted to be bringing the pilot research to fruition and are very excited about launching the Cost Calculator,” said Professor Harriet Ward, director and co-founder of Loughborough University’s Centre for Child and Family Research – one of the key speakers at the event.

“We are sure that this application will prove to be invaluable to local authorities, as it will enable them to commission better and more effective care services and to streamline their social work and administrative procedures.”

Demonstration versions of the Cost Calculator are available online at www.ccfcs.org.uk from 15 June.

User licences for full versions of the Cost Calculator, which include all the necessary software plus consultancy support, are available from the Centre for Child and Family Research, T: 01509 228879, E: costcalculator@lboro.ac.uk

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Notes to editors

  1. The launch will take place on Wednesday 14 June, beginning at 9am, at the Royal Institute of British Architects, London.

  2. The Centre for Child and Family Research at Loughborough University is one of the leading research groups in the UK within its field. Established in 2001 by Professor Harriet Ward and Professor Saul Becker, the Centre aims to develop and deliver programmes of research that inform, influence and support policy and practice for children, families and their communities. Its work was instrumental in the award to Loughborough University of a fifth Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2005, which was presented in recognition of Loughborough’s outstanding and widely respected work in evaluating and helping develop social policy-related programmes.

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