The value of care in human services is client help. To determine the value for money of healthcare and social services requires measuring that help, but the cost of comparative evaluation and cost-benefit studies is beyond the reach of most non-profit agencies.
How successful their services are in enabling clients to regain self sufficiency, repair relationships, or re-establish self care, is largely unknown. While agencies do generate results, how much client effect, and value for money, they generate remains uncertain.
The value of care is central to current discussions about social finance. Governments are trying to establish new public instruments, like social impact bonds, to pay for results, enabling service agencies to attract impact investments to develop their service innovations. The challenges of these investments are substantial. Contingent payments put investors at risk. Promises, rather than proof of results, leave returns uncertain. Comparative impact evaluation methods require years of data collection, extending investor exposure. In the end, the lack of valuation of client care leaves governments uncertain of savings and investors uncertain of return, relative to risk.
While studies of results with client and comparative populations do not yield the value of care generated by services, alternatively, continuing measures of changes in service effect and efficiency, from period to period, allay that uncertainty. Agencies that are able to increase the effort, effect and impact of their services with clients, from period to period, add measurable benefit for their clients, and value of care.