The CCfCS calculates costs from the bottom up. Starting with the child, the CCfCS explores what support and services each child has received over a given time period, and uses the child level data to builds up the costs over time from the bottom up.

The conceptual framework that underpins the CCfCS makes a distinction between the ongoing case management functions carried out by social workers, family support workers and other social care personnel and the services (such as placements) that are provided to meet specific needs. The case management functions have been organised into a set of eight processes. The personnel associated with each process is identified and the time spent on the activities undertaken for each process is estimated.  These amounts of time are costed using appropriate hourly rates. National Insurance, superannuation, holiday and sick leave, overheads are all included in the unit cost estimations. The method therefore links amounts of time spent to data concerning salaries, administrative and management overheads and other expenditure.

The CCfCS comes with a set of unit costs for each of these processes, and the placement fees and allowances. Separation in this way allows for exploration of the costs of services and also assessment, case management and decision making costs. One of the advantages of breaking down and then building up the costs in this way is that it is possible to explore how changes to one area of the system impact on another. It is also possible to focus on one element of the system and carry out ‘what if’ analyses, for example, to explore the cost implications of introducing new practices/protocols, or the introduction of a new service for a specific group of children and/or families.


Advantages of the approach


  • Different cost elements can be identified and combined:
    • The cost of providing placements for looked after children includes both the fee/allowance cost and the cost of on going social work support
  • Cost variations can be taken into account:
    • Costs may be different for children with different needs, or in different placement types
    • Variations according to local area policies and procedures