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July/August 2024Vol. 25, No. 6New Briefs From the Child Welfare Study to Enhance Equity With Data

The Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation published two briefs seeking to improve equity in child welfare through strategic data use. Developed as part of the Child Welfare Study to Enhance Equity With Data, these briefs provide guidance on how child welfare agencies can better collect, analyze, and use demographic data to address and understand inequities within the system.

The What, Why, and How of Collecting and Analyzing Demographic Data to Improve Equity in Child Welfare

This brief emphasizes the importance of demographic data in understanding and addressing inequities in child welfare. It outlines the processes state and local child welfare agencies adopted to determine what data to collect, the reasons behind collecting these data, and the methodologies for data collection and usage. The brief seeks to help agencies systematically measure and understand disparities, laying the foundation for more informed decision-making and policy development.

The brief identified practices from an environmental scan of published literature and state and federal documents. Some of the key takeaways include the following:

  • Identify relevant demographic data to collect
  • Understand the purpose and importance of collecting specific data types
  • Use multiple measures to gain a more complete understanding of the extent of the disparity

Using Data to Enhance Equity in Child Welfare: Findings From an Environmental Scan

This brief provides insights from an environmental scan highlighting emerging data practices that support child welfare agencies and their partners in advancing equity across the child welfare service continuum. It presents examples of innovative data practices and tools that have shown promise in promoting equity, offering a roadmap for agencies to enhance their data strategies.

The brief organizes the data practices into the five stages of the data life cycle and offers recommendations and strategies for approaching each:

  • Data planning
  • Data collection
  • Data access, management, and linking
  • Data analysis, metrics, and interpretation
  • Reporting and dissemination

Both briefs highlight the necessity for child welfare agencies to use the power of data to foster equitable outcomes for all children and families. Agencies can use the data practices and strategies in these briefs to better understand and address the systemic inequities that affect vulnerable populations.