The Cost Calculator for Children’s Services (CCfCS)

The CCfCS is award-winning purpose-designed software that estimates the costs of social care activity and placements for looked after children, in England. It facilitates comparisons between the relative value of different types of care, making it easier to estimate the potential benefits of introducing a range of alternative care packages. Analyses of costs with respect to the outcomes variables included in the CCfCS are also available. The CCfCS uses child level data that is routinely collected by local authorities (based on the SSDA 903 return) for the analysis. For more information about the CCfCS go to About the CCfCS.

Since 2000 the Centre for Child and Family Research, at Loughborough University have undertaken a programme of research exploring the links between costs needs and outcomes in child welfare services. As part of the programme unit costs have been calculated for a range of different services, for example, children in need, child protection and the Common Assessment Framework. The CCfCS and the methodology that underlies it  have been developed as part of that research programme by the costs and outcomes team at the Centre for Child and Family Research at Loughborough University. For more information see Research.

 Beta Testing

An updated version of the tool will be available at the end of Summer 2017 as a free download to all English local authorities. During 2016 the team have been working with a number of local authorities (and other organisations with access to SSDA 903 data)  to beta test an updated version of the CCfCS tool. Gradually local authority sites are being set up with the tool to test which will inform the final adjustments to the tool for re-launch in 2017.


The team are also currently working with two local authorities in Scotland and the Scottish Government to adapt the cost calculator for children looked after in Scotland. Early 2017, the team will also be beta testing the CCfCS for Scotland.  If you are interested or would like to know more, please contact the team by email.

The costs and outcomes team

The costs and outcomes team have skills and expertise in:

  • Calculating unit costs of child welfare interventions
  • Calculating total costs using bottom up methodology
  • Relating costs to children’s needs and outcomes

Solutions that inform policy and practice

The costs and outcomes team

  • carry out research studies to inform policy and practice across children’s services departments and partner agencies
  • offer  research consultancy
  • provide training and support on using the CCfCS and interpreting the reports.

The costing methodology

  • Uses a bottom-up rather than a top-down approach
  • Costs each child’s pathway separately
  • Takes variations into account
  • Brings together placements costs  and social care costs
  • Uses data which local authorities already collect
  • Aggregates costs for any time period, either for the individual child, for groups of children or for types of placement, etc.

If you would like more information about the CCfCS, the wider costs and outcomes research programme, or the team, please contact us here, or go to the Centre for Child and Family Research website, or follow us on Twitter @CCFR_LU:



  • The team are developing a tool to analyse Edge of Care cohorts in local authorities, and currently working Research in Practice on a project with 18 local authorities across England.
  • The CCfCS team are pleased to be able to make a new resource available to local authorities as a result of the work they have done with NSPCC about children who are returning home from care.Click on the Publication & Resource page for the resource and more information.
  • An improved and updated version of the Cost Calculator for looked after children in England will be available in 2017. A version for use in Scotland is also being developed.

If you would like to receive information about either the Scottish or English versions of the CCfCS when they are available, please email us.