Assessing services, supports and costs for young families under stress

Michelle Sleed, Jennifer Beecham, Martin Knapp, Colette McAuley, Nyree McCurry (2006)

Child: Care, Health and Development 32 1 101-110

Available online: 3 January 2006

Background Despite the attention paid to family support services in legislation and guidance, there is still relatively little evidence on which to base the development of effective services, and even less on the costs and cost-effectiveness of different models of support. Methods The study designed and examined the practical feasibility of a methodology for collecting service use data and other information on families. Unit costs of services were calculated and data were collected in interviews with 177 young families under stress in Northern Ireland and South-East England. Service use patterns and costs were analysed. Results Comparisons showed that families made greater use than the general population of many services. There were marked variations within the sample in the patterns of service use and costs, to some extent reflecting differences in the needs of the young families. Discussion The methods developed for collecting service use data, calculating unit costs and estimating costs for families were feasible