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February 2011Vol. 12, No. 1Choosing a Data Management System

Data reporting requirements for child welfare agencies have grown significantly in recent years, due to new requirements from funders (including government agencies) and standards that promote evidence-based practice. Likewise, new technology makes it possible to collect, analyze, and share increasing amounts of data. To meet these demands and to promote data-driven decision-making, social services agencies, including child welfare agencies, need a data management system suited to these tasks.

A recent article in Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services describes a case study in which a Georgia family services agency used a social work problem-solving approach to select the best data management system to meet its needs. Rather than turning over the responsibility to IT personnel to choose a system, agency staff were able to identify and document their problem, conduct a needs assessment, weigh the pros and cons, develop a request for proposals, choose a vendor, and develop a clear contract. The agency's experiences are the subject of Peter Lyons and Christy Winter's "Data Management System Selection in a Family Service Agency" (Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services, Volume 91(4)).

The complete article can be purchased on the Families in Society website: