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This research is about community-based services across England that support children with a learning disabilities and behaviours that challenge, and their families. We want to find out if way that services are structured and organised (known as “service models”) has any effect on the outcomes of children with learning disabilities and behaviours that challenge and their families. We also want to understand the experiences of children and families, and the ways that services for children with learning disabilities and behaviours that challenge work with families, carers, children and young people to develop services with them.

Fifteen services (from 5 different service models identified in Stage 1 of the MELD project) will be studied in detail. Families of children newly referred to these services complete questionnaires when they first come to the service and again after 12 months. We will gather detailed information about each service (like how many children they see in the year, and estimate costs), and we will ask people who are involved in the children’s care (but not employed by the service) how satisfied they are with the service.

The goal of the economic evaluation is to estimate the costs, the cost-effectiveness and the cost-consequences of the service models considered in MELD.