Since its launch in December of 2010, the Child Welfare Outcomes Data Site has been providing child welfare-related data to consumers in the field, including caseworkers, child welfare directors, researchers, legislators and news media.
This Children’s Bureau-sponsored site features data from the Child Welfare Outcomes Report to Congress, an annual report that assesses state performance in operating child protection and child welfare programs. The written reports present performance in seven outcome categories, which evaluate issues related to child safety, permanency, and well-being. The Child Welfare Outcomes Reports also include data on contextual factors relevant to the outcome measures.
Child welfare policymakers, researchers and other experts in the field have historically used data from the Child Welfare Outcomes reports to inform decisions related to improving practice and producing better outcomes for vulnerable children and families. Prior to the existence of the website, these data were only available through the written reports. The full reports are valuable because they provide information to supplement the state data, including findings from analyses across states as well as interpretive text. However, the Data Site allows for a significantly faster release of the data, making them available six to nine months earlier than the full reports.
In addition to providing users with quicker access to report data, the Child Welfare Outcomes Data Site allows users to view the statistics according to their own unique needs. Visitors to the site can view one state’s data or simultaneously compare data outputs for multiple states of their choosing. Users can run analyses on the specific measures and the particular year or years that they need to examine. Once the states, variables, and reporting years are selected, users can choose to view the results from their analyses in map, graph, or table formats.
Sharon Newburg-Rinn, who has served as the lead researcher for the project for the past several years notes, “For many years, the Child Welfare Outcomes Reports have been an important source of information for policymakers. Now the data from this report rise to a new level of value due to their earlier availability on the Data Site as well as the flexibility of the customized tables that can be produced and downloaded to meet the user’s needs.”
During its brief history, the Data Site has undergone several enhancements. New website features allow users to download their data into Excel spreadsheets and to produce printer-friendly outputs. Most recently, the website has been updated with a new reporting feature that increases capabilities for viewing the race/ethnicity data. Users can now create data reports using the following two race/ethnicity breakdown options:
This new feature allows stakeholders to look at race and ethnicity in a more detailed manner. With concern in recent years about the disproportionate representation of children of color in child welfare, it is especially important to have data available that allow users to more precisely distinguish between the race and ethnicity populations within the states.
Users can access the Child Welfare Outcomes Data Site here: http://cwoutcomes.acf.hhs.gov/data/overview