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Hertfordshire County Council: Finds Lifelong Links avoids nearly £1 million in costs

As part of our ongoing Lifelong Links evaluation, Professor Lisa Holmes from the University of Sussex has been working on a cost benefit analysis template for Lifelong Links services. Professor Holmes joined us for an interactive virtual workshop for Lifelong Links service managers and local authority finance staff to look at a draft version of the template and explore how services can most effectively use the tool. 

Along with Lisa, we were joined by Ben Carr and Hayley Brockwitz from Hertfordshire County Council to discuss their findings from an internal review of the costs involved with Lifelong Links. Via a case file audit, they identified that their Lifelong Links Service supported their local authority in achieving an estimated cost avoidance of £836,998 in one year (based on a sample group comprised of 44 young people for whom a Lifelong Links plan was created between April 2021 and March 2022). 

Areas the case file audit looked at include:  

  • Reunification home  
  • Missing episodes 
  • Placement stability 
  • Community family-based contact sessions  
  • Respite/overnight stays with network

Some key findings

  • For one young person, twenty-seven missing episodes were recorded the year prior to Lifelong Links. In the year following, no further missing episodes have been recorded. Based on the national average cost of a missing episode (£2,719), the cost avoided is £73,413 per year. 
  • Three young people who undertook Lifelong Links returned home from residential placements. Although this is not the aim of Lifelong Links, it represented a cost avoidance of £703,890.00 for the year, based on the cost of an average local residential placement per year (£234,630 per young person). 
  • Nine young people had 101 planned respite/overnight stays with family members/significant people as created through the Lifelong Links process. Based on the cost of a 2-day respite/overnight stay with a Herts foster carer of £185.94 per young person, this represented a cost avoidance of £18,779.94. 

Family Rights Group will circulate the cost benefit analysis template for local authorities offering Lifelong Links once it has been finalised. 

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