Supporting Strategic Investment in Social Programs: a Cost Analysis of the Family Check-Up

Margaret R. Kuklinski, D. Max Crowley, Thomas J. Dishion, Melvin N. Wilson, William E. Pelham, Daniel S. Shaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

High-quality evidence about the costs of effective interventions for children can provide a foundation for fiscally responsible policy capable of achieving impact. This study estimated the costs to society of the Family Check-up, an evidence-based brief home-visiting intervention for high-risk families implemented in the Early Steps multisite efficacy trial. Intervention arm families in three sites were offered 4 consecutive years of intervention, when target children were ages 2 through 5. Data for estimating total, average, and marginal costs and family burden (means and standard deviations, 2015 USD, discounted at 3% per year) came from a detailed database that prospectively documented resource use at the family level and a supplemental interview with trial leaders. Secondary analyses evaluated differences in costs among higher and lower risk families using repeated measures analysis of variance. Results indicated annual average costs of $1066 per family (SD = $400), with time spent by families valued at an additional $84 (SD = $99) on average. Costs declined significantly from ages 2 through 5. Once training and oversight patterns were established, additional families could be served at half the cost, $501 (SD = $404). On the margin, higher risk families cost more, $583 (SD = $444) compared to $463 (SD = $380) for lower risk families, but prior analyses showed they also benefited more. Sensitivity analyses indicated potential for wage-related cost savings in real-world implementation compared to the university-based trial. This study illustrates the dynamics of Family Check-up resource use over time and across families differing in risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)256-267
Number of pages12
JournalPrevention Science
Volume21
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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