Worker time and the cost of stability

Susan Tregeagle, Elizabeth Cox, Catherine Forbes, Cathy Humphreys, Cas O'Neill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


This paper investigates the time caseworkers spend supporting long-term foster care and adoption placements. Undertaken in Australia through collaboration between university and non-government 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.3 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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1149 - 1158
Number of pages10
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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