About the Childhood Cost Data Initiative

The Childhood Cost Data initiative at Brookings aims to build global momentum to generate quality, comparable cost data on programs seeking to improve the development of young children and adolescents. With an emphasis on data transparency, collaboration, and local ownership, the initiative strives to identify the barriers to costing data and put solutions into practice through the development of tools and resources for cost collection and analysis.

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The Importance of Cost Data

Improving outcomes for children and young people will require at least four types of data:

data on real-time performance
data on longer term outcomes
data on the costs of service delivery
data on the cost of inaction

While the past decade has demonstrated an increased attention to outcomes and performance data, cost data remain critical and under-recognized. An understanding of costs and cost-breakdowns are important for making decisions to start, continue, or scale up a specific intervention or program. While cost isn’t the only factor to consider in these decisions, it is a critical one that is often overlooked due to a lack of openly available, high-quality cost data.

Costing is the process of identifying and examining the costs of the inputs of an intervention or program, and how those costs and inputs are distributed.

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History of the Childhood Cost Data Initiative

In 2014, CUE initiated a work program conducting substantial research on ECD costs and costing, and subsequently created the Standardized ECD Costing Tool (SECT). The tool aimed to provide methodological consistency to costing ECD interventions and to generating cost data to inform effective investment decisions. Through pilots in 5 countries (Bangladesh, Malawi, Mali, Mexico, and Mozambique), Brookings identified several areas for improvements which informed the design of a revised, more user-friendly tool which became the Childhood Cost Calculator (C3) which was expanded to include other child and youth-centered interventions across sectors such as education, nutrition, health, water & sanitation, social protection, and governance.