May 2000Vol. 1, No. 3Seeking Better Ways to Measure Child Well-Being
Over the years, "social indicators" have been developed as a way to track progress in a wide variety of economic, quality of life, and other types of issues affecting children and families. A new research brief from Child Trends outlines why indicators are used and what constitutes an effective measurement. Building a Better System of Child and Family Indicators proposes criteria to improve the social indicators used to assess the well-being of children. According to the document, social indicators should:
- Comprehensively cover outcomes, behavior, and processes
- Include children of all ages
- Be clear and comprehensible to the public
- Measure positive as well as negative outcomes
- Assess depth, breadth, and duration
- Have the same meaning in varied population subgroups
- Provide consistency over time
- Anticipate trends
- Employ rigorous collection methods
- Be geographically detailed
- Be cost-efficient
- Reflect social goals
- Adjust for demographic trends.
Building a Better System of Child and Family Indicators can be obtained online at: http://www.childtrends.org/Files/bettersys.pdf or by contacting the Publications Department at Child Trends, 202-362-5580.
A new inventory of over 90 child, youth, and family indicator-based projects is available online at http://www.childtrends.org/r_invres.asp (Editor's note: this link is no longer available). A limited number of hard copies are available from Erik Michelson at Child Trends, 202-362-5580.