• November 2010
  • Vol. 11, No. 9

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Sharing Data Across Youth-Serving Agencies

A new promising practice profile from the Finance Project describes the development and implementation of Philadelphia's Policy Analysis Center (PAC), an initiative that began in 2010 to increase data sharing across all human service agencies in the city. Jointly run by the city's school district and the deputy mayor for health and opportunity, PAC strives to increase the quality and availability of data that organizations and decision-makers can use to enhance service coordination and ultimately improve youth outcomes.

Because data from Philadelphia's human service agencies previously existed in separate case management systems, PAC will combine those databases into one integrated system. The Finance Project describes the challenges faced by the initiative but also summarizes the benefits the city has already experienced. In particular, PAC has used the data to research the effects of early childhood education on school readiness, coordination between homeless shelters and child welfare agencies, and factors related to school dropout. The staff at PAC encourage the city's human service agencies to reap the benefits of the integrated data system by seeking cross-system research that evaluates program effectiveness and assesses the impact of various city programs on youth.

The report concludes with recommendations for successfully creating a shared data system across youth-serving agencies:

  • Identify organizations and databases that contain pertinent information
  • Obtain access to data-sharing initiatives and receive training on interpreting the data
  • Develop clear processes and procedures for collecting, analyzing, and using data, including data-sharing agreements, and ensure the database is financially sustained
  • Collect complete data to improve the quality and accuracy of data available
  • Find innovative and affordable ways to share the data with other organizations

Read the full profile, Sharing Data Across Youth-Serving Agencies: Philadelphia's Policy and Analysis Center (PAC), on the Finance Project website:

www.financeproject.org/publications/PPP-DataSharing.pdf (64 KB)

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