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Loughborough University study on short-term support for families

A new report from Loughborough University, Unit Costs of Support Care, demonstrates that support care, including the accompanying support services for families, has a far lower unit cost than the foster care it replaces and aims to avoid longer term. Even more importantly than its value for money, support care is effective. The input of the support carer and the help provided alongside – for example attending a parenting programme or being given housing support and budgeting advice - can often mean that the child does not need to come into full-time care.

Support care can be an extremely flexible service, helping families to grow in confidence and skill, and ensure that they are introduced to the wider support available. As well as helping struggling families stay together, support care can help family and friends carers such as grandparents who report that they struggle when children are first placed with them. It is also effective in helping to prevent adoption breakdown, of which around a fifth do, especially during teenage years, as well as supporting families whose children don't hit the criteria for short breaks for disabled children but desperately need help.

Loughborough University researchers have developed a Cost Calculator for Children’s Services to calculate costs and facilitate comparisons between the relative value of different types of childcare provision.

More than 20 English local authorities have been involved in the development and implementation of the Cost Calculator. Two of which have drawn on the University’s expertise through the Knowledge Transfer Partnership scheme to customise the Cost Calculator. Coventry City Council sought to model the costs of the education processes undertaken to support children with special educational needs while Cheshire West and Chester and East Cheshire Authorities sought to incorporate health and mental health provision and to explore joint commissioning processes and how agreements are made for joint funding of services and placements.

More information can be found at http://:www.lboro.ac.uk/

Wed 25th Sept 2013