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.
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.
Epidemiological Perspectives on Maltreatment Prevention (PDF - 393 KB)
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.
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.
Guide to Data-Driven Decision Making
Children's Bureau (2018)
Explains a process for using data to inform a course of action.
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.
An Overview of Independent Verification and Validation Services for Child Welfare Information Systems Development (PDF - 249 KB)
Capacity Building Center for States (2017)
Demonstrates a high-level overview of independent verification and validation (IV&V) services for title IV-E agencies and introduces the usefulness of IV&V services for child welfare information systems projects. Provides information related to implementation of IV&V services for child welfare information technology departments, and describes the independent roles of both the agency and the IV&V service provider.
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.
Back on Track: Transforming Virginia's Child Welfare System
The Annie E. Casey Foundation (2010)
Describes Virginia's efforts to use data to manage performance as part of its children's services system transformation. Virginia utilized SafeMeasures a web service that allows local department of social services to regularly view their agencies' performance.
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
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.
Episode 5: Data Sharing for Planning and Decision-Making [Podcast]
Capacity Building Center for States (2019)
Demonstrates how jurisdictions use data to inform their planning and decision-making. In this episode, child welfare agency leaders in the District of Columbia talk about how they work with partners to use their different data lenses to understand the needs of families and to structure a set of services to best meet the full spectrum of needs.
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.
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.
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.