MCDERMID, S., 2008. The cost calculator for children’s services: extension for all children in need - mapping children in need services. Paper presented at Care Matters : Transforming Lives – Improving Outcomes Conference (incorporating the 8th International Looking After Children Conference), 7-9 July 2008, Keble College Oxford UK.
Background and introduction
Developed as part of an ongoing research programme exploring the costs and
outcomes of child welfare interventions, the cost calculator methodology is a ‘bottom
up’ method for calculating the unit costs of placing and supporting looked after
children. The methodology uses the unit costs of social work activities as the basis
for building up the costs over time of placements and part placements. It takes into
account social work activity time associated with eight processes that cover the
activity to support a child. This allows a ‘true cost’ of supporting a child in their
placement to be calculated as it includes the placement cost, as well as the
additional cost of social worker and other social care professional time.
Following the publication of Messages from Research (Department of Health 1995)
and more recently, Every Child Matters (Department for Education and Skills 2004),
greater impetus has been placed on the importance of developing services provided
to all children in need, for achieving positive outcomes for all children. Work is
currently being undertaken to extend the cost calculator methodology to include all
children in need, making it possible for local authorities to cost a fuller range of
services and to cost family support interventions provided under section 17 arrangements (Children Act 1989).