IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Worker time and the cost of stability


  • Susan Tregeagle
  • Elizabeth Cox
  • Catherine Forbes


  • Cathy Humphreys
  • Cas O'Neill


This paper investigates the time caseworkers spend supporting long-term foster care and adoption placements. Undertaken in Australia through collaboration between university and nongovernment agency researchers, the 'Cost of Support Study' tracked the hours that caseworkers spent supporting twenty-seven children and their carers over a nine month period. The placements were part of a 'Find-A-Family' program for 'hard to place children', many of whom had previously experienced multiple placement breakdowns. The program has a history of 78% stability on the first placement (over the young person's time in the program) and 93% by the second, with the type of support provided by this accredited agency's program detailed here. The weekly worker diaries reveal an average of 3 hours 32 minutes of worker time per week per placement; however wide variation is apparent in the time given to each placement, and depends on the characteristics of the child involved. Further, the resources required to support each placement are found by multiplying worker hours by the hourly cost per worker, using New South Wales government costings. The paper contributes to the important debate regarding the link between worker time and stability in care, by deepening our understanding of the costs involved in providing high quality support and supervision of casework.

Suggested Citation

  • Susan Tregeagle & Elizabeth Cox & Catherine Forbes & Cathy Humphreys & Cas O'Neill, 2011. "Worker time and the cost of stability," Monash Econometrics and Business Statistics Working Papers 2/11, Monash University, Department of Econometrics and Business Statistics.
  • Handle: RePEc:msh:ebswps:2011-2

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Oosterman, Mirjam & Schuengel, Carlo & Wim Slot, N. & Bullens, Ruud A.R. & Doreleijers, Theo A.H., 2007. "Disruptions in foster care: A review and meta-analysis," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 53-76, January.
    2. Fernandez, Elizabeth, 2009. "Children's wellbeing in care: Evidence from a longitudinal study of outcomes," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(10), pages 1092-1100, October.
    3. Christiansen, Øivin & Havik, Toril & Anderssen, Norman, 2010. "Arranging stability for children in long-term out-of-home care," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 32(7), pages 913-921, July.
    4. Allphin, Sally & Simmons, Brian & Barth, Richard P., 2001. "Adoption of foster children: How much does it cost public agencies?," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 23(11), pages 865-891, November.
    5. Brown, Jason D. & Bednar, Lisa M., 2006. "Foster parent perceptions of placement breakdown," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 28(12), pages 1497-1511, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    stability; longterm foster care; unit costing; permanency; adoption; costs.;

    JEL classification:

    • C19 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Other
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • H75 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Government: Health, Education, and Welfare
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:msh:ebswps:2011-2. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dr Xibin Zhang) or (Joanne Lustig). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.