Using Data to Inform Program Improvement
Organizations that collect data on service provision and child and family outcomes can use it to analyze the effectiveness of their programs and consider adapting services, policies, and procedures as necessary. The following resources explore how the use of data informs program improvements, including State and local examples.
The Program Manager's Guide to Evaluation
Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation
Explains program evaluation—what it is, why it is important, how to do it, and how to use it to improve programs that benefit children and families.
Child Welfare Outcomes Report Data
Children's Bureau, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Features a custom report builder that offers access to the most current Child Welfare Outcomes data before the full report is published. The website provides information on the performance of States in seven outcome categories as well as data on contextual factors and findings of analyses conducted across States.
National Resource Center for Child Welfare Data and Technology (2004)
Provides an orientation to the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) and links to key materials related to the collection of quality data that can be used to address policy development and program management issues at State and Federal levels.
Child Welfare and Technology (PDF - 1390 KB)
Bissell & Miller
Children's Voice, 16(4), 2007
Examines barriers to the implementation of new technology, offers technological strategies for using data to predict and improve outcomes, and profiles types of child welfare data systems.
Continuous Quality Improvement in Agency Practice
Baker & Charvat (2008)
In Research Methods in Child Welfare
Discusses five integral factors of continuous quality improvement and the importance of a data collection system that allows an agency to monitor, understand, and improve continually all aspects of service delivery and documentation.
Data Considerations for Fostering Connections (PDF - 550 KB)
National Resource Center for Child Welfare Data and Technology (2012)
Describes how the use of data is assisting States and Tribes with health, kinship and guardianship, education, older youth, adoption, and Tribal provisions as required by the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008.
Epidemiological Perspectives on Maltreatment Prevention
The Future of Children, 19(2), 2009
Describes and differentiates among the three primary sources of national data on child maltreatment and explores how the data is used to plan and implement maltreatment programs. (PDF - 416 KB)
Following Youth After Out-of-Home Placement: Navigating a Data Collection Obstacle Course
Ballentine, Morris, & Farmer
Residential Treatment for Children and Youth, 29(1), 2012
Discusses the challenges experienced by 500 youth discharged from group homes and presents methods and tools for following this highly mobile population.
Fostering Court Improvement
Children and Family Resource Center, Barton Child Law and Policy Clinic, Fostering Results, & National Child Welfare Resource Center on Legal and Judicial Issues
Gives States an efficient mechanism for sharing data between dependency courts and child welfare agencies so they can more effectively manage systems. The website includes information on States participating in the initiative as well as resources that encourage the use of data to improve collaboration.
Good Policy Requires Good Data: Assessing Child Well-Being in Every State (PDF - 167 KB)
Laracy, Moore, Murphey, & Stein (2010)
Discusses how annual State child welfare data can be a valuable resource for developing better State policies for children and youth.
Improving Social Work Practice Through the Use of Technology and Advanced Research Methods
Schwartz, Jones, Schwartz, & Obradovic (2008)
In Child Welfare Research: Advances for Practice and Policy
Reviews the use of technology in social welfare, discusses promising technological developments, explores the potential of actuarial risk assessment, and describes an innovative computational process for predicting the recurrence of child maltreatment.
Taking Action: Keys to Using Data and Information (PDF - 681 KB)
National Child Welfare Resource Center for Organizational Improvement
Child Welfare Matters, Fall/Winter 2010
Highlights different aspects of strong quality improvement systems through which agencies conduct ongoing analyses and take actions that result in improved practice and outcomes.
Workforce Resources 1-page Summary #13: Data-driven Performance Improvement (PDF - 238 KB)
National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (2013)
Discusses the use of data from a study that measured frontline worker perceptions of evidence-informed practices to assess performance and promote outcome achievement by both private and public child welfare agency staff.
State and local examples
Congregate Care Rightsizing and Redesign: Young Children, Voluntary Placements and a Profile of Therapeutic Group Homes (PDF - 534 KB)
Connecticut Department of Children and Families (2011)
Provides an overview of congregate care in Connecticut, describes levers of change in four practice areas, profiles younger children in care, and discusses the challenges to providing services.
Data Mining Project: In and Out-of-County Foster Care Placements and Receipt of Mental Health Services (PDF - 1157 KB)
California Child Welfare Council, Out-of-County Mental Health Services Workgroup, & Data Linkage and Information Sharing Committee (2011)
Examines characteristics of children in foster care who received mental health services and details differences among children placed in and outside of their county of jurisdiction in California.
Disproportionality and Disparities in Oregon's Child Welfare System: County Level Analysis of Administrative Data: Multnomah County: A Report to the Oregon Child Welfare Equity Task Force (PDF - 87 KB)
Oregon Child Welfare Equity Task Force (2009)
Analyzes nine key decision points in the child welfare system in Multnomah County, Oregon, in order to investigate disproportionality and racial disparities.
GIS and Child Welfare in Louisiana (PDF - 15,821 KB)
Dailey & Keegan
CW360°: A Comprehensive Look at a Prevalent Child Welfare Issue, 2011
Highlights the use of Geographic Information System (GIS) technology in the child welfare system in Louisiana. The benefits of using GIS in child welfare are explained, including the ability for practitioners to analyze patterns, enhance predisaster planning, and facilitate and improve case decision–making.
Inform Influence Impact: The Role of Research in Supporting a Community's Commitment to Its Children (PDF - 1650 KB)
Case Western Reserve University, Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development (2009)
Presents activities and outcomes of Invest in Children, a 10-year, public-private partnership created to increase the development, funding, visibility, and impact of early childhood services in Cuyahoga County, Ohio.
Managing by Data
Virginia Department of Social Services
Describes Virginia's efforts to use data to manage performance as part of their children's services system transformation. The website includes information on the SafeMeasures web service that allows local departments of social services to regularly view their agencies' performance.
New Jersey Department of Children and Families "Manage by Data" National Promising Practice Findings (PDF - 128 KB)
Northeast and Caribbean Implementation Center (2010)
Describes findings from interviews with five State child welfare agencies that New Jersey will use to develop and introduce a model for turning data into practical information that can improve outcomes for children and families.
The Role of Data Collection and Evaluation in Supporting Systems Change (PDF - 49 KB)
Research and Training Center on Family Support and Children's Mental Health (2007)
Focuses on the role of evaluation and research in guiding Nevada's efforts to reform mental health services offered within the child welfare system.
Using Data for Child Welfare System Improvement: Lessons Learned From the California Performance Indicators Project (PDF - 1,5821 KB)
Webster, Putnam-Hornstein, & Needell
CW360°: A Comprehensive Look at a Prevalent Child Welfare Issue, 2011
Describes how the use of outcome data, drawn from the Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System, was used to coordinate efforts in all counties to assess system performance, develop plans for improvement, and monitor progress.