The Department for Education (DfE) has today published a report by Frontier which presents estimates of the value for money of delivering Children’s Centre services in the most deprived areas of England. Children’s Centres provide integrated, multi-agency services at a single point of access for families with young children. These services can include childcare and early education programmes, a range of health services, evidence-based parenting classes and specialised family support services.
The report describes the average delivery cost for different types of services offered by Children’s Centres. It then explores the association between the service use and outcomes for children and families when the child is aged three. The monetary value of these outcomes is then estimated based on evidence linking outcomes at age three to impacts in later life. The analysis compares the costs and benefits to provide overall evidence on the value for money of different types of services.
The key findings are:
- Under plausible scenarios of impact, some Children’s Centre services provide positive value for money overall;
- Most of the benefits are derived from improved later labour market outcomes (such as higher net earnings) for the children whose families use Children’s Centre services;
- The societal benefits mainly accrue directly to families. Relatively little of the benefit goes to the Government in the form of lower spending on related services or higher tax revenue or lower benefit payments;
- Parent support and specialist family/parent support services offer better value for money than the more child-based services, driven more by a lower cost per user than a higher benefit per user.
The report is the final output of the Evaluation of Children’s Centres in England (ECCE), a six-year study commissioned by the DfE to provide a unique, in-depth understanding of the effectiveness of different approaches to managing and delivering Children’s Centre services. A link to all the research reports can be found here. Frontier was part of the consortium who undertook the study, working jointly with NatCen Social Research and the University of Oxford.
Frontier regularly advises clients in the public sector on issues related to early education and childcare policy.
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