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September 2019Vol. 20, No. 7Administrative Data Informs Child Welfare Programming With Dynamic Visualization Methodologies

Agencies across the United States collect a massive amount of data, keeping track of factors such as entries, exits, movement of youth, and more. These data can be a powerful tool to inform improvements in systems, but it can be challenging to leverage the data to better understand the trajectories of youth in care, how effective services are, and where improvements and connections can be made. An article in Children and Youth Services Review, "Harnessing the Potential of Administrative Data to Inform Child Welfare Programming With Dynamic Visualization Methodologies," discusses and demonstrates how web-based visualization technology can be used to develop a feedback improvement system and how child welfare agencies can develop their own.

This study highlights an example of a university-agency partnership that created an automated system that uses data visualization to process, analyze, and deliver data for continually improving child welfare systems and services. The key elements to the process include the following:

  • Reporting relevant, readily accessible data in a timely fashion
  • Limiting the number of outcomes reported but providing enough longitudinal information to guide continuous improvement efforts
  • Reducing long-term costs and maintenance using technology and automated analytic processing

The article presents simulated data to illustrate how they can be analyzed, processed, and delivered. It also includes a literature review that walks readers through the importance of feedback and the impact it has on meaningful improvement. Child welfare agencies can use this study to help guide the development of their own feedback systems.

"Harnessing the potential of administrative data to inform child welfare programming with dynamic visualization methodologies," by Michael J. Tanana, Mindy J. Vanderloo, and Jeffrey D. Waid (Children and Youth Services Review85) is available at