Session: Challenges and Opportunities in Working with Large Scale Datasets (Society for Social Work and Research 14th Annual Conference: Social Work Research: A WORLD OF POSSIBILITIES)

4 Challenges and Opportunities in Working with Large Scale Datasets

Cluster: Child Welfare

Terry V. Shaw, PhD, University of Maryland at Baltimore , Haksoon Ahn, PhD, University of Maryland at Baltimore and Sarah Kaye, PhD, University of Maryland at Baltimore
Thursday, January 14, 2010: 1:30 PM-3:15 PM
Garden Room B (Hyatt Regency)
Over the last two decades a number of different sources for administrative and survey data have been compiled and made available to the public. These data systems allow for an understanding of national and state level child welfare practice patterns, help to monitor and shape federal, state and local policies; and provide opportunities to research areas of importance to the field of child welfare. However, exploration of these datasets has been limited. Child welfare researchers need to be aware of the incredible opportunities these data systems provide the field, and also the numerous challenges faced when using large scale datasets. This workshop will discuss the challenges and opportunities of working with large scale datasets including: 1) Working with and analyzing child welfare administrative data collected through state SACWIS systems (State Automated Child Welfare Information); 2) Core and Topical Modules from the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) conducted by Census Bureau, the federal government's major source of comprehensive information about the child well-being and child care arrangements; and 3) Data from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent well-being (NSCAW) an ongoing longitudinal study of children in child welfare or at risk for abuse or neglect.

These three datasets are some of the most comprehensive resources available to examine child welfare and allow researchers to conduct cross sectional or longitudinal analysis with national and state level. Panelists will discuss the following topics for each of the three types of data systems. 1) Access to large scale datasets: How to find publicly available child welfare datasets or build the relationships necessary to work with state data systems, how to access datasets, and how to explore the necessary relationships to work with datasets. 2) Advantages of working with large scale data systems: Discussions of the costs in both time and resources of accessing and analyzing the information stored in these data systems; various kinds of research topics that these datasets can provide. 3) Limitations of working with large scale data systems: panelists will share what they have learned through working with each of these data systems. The discussion on limitations will include: issues of incomplete, missing, or inaccurate data; the (in)ability to subset the data; and the overall design of the data systems. 4) Appropriate statistical and analytical techniques when working with large scale data systems: Discussion of different statistical analysis tools and techniques that are appropriate for the type of data being examined and how the results from these analyses can be interpreted.

The panel will also discuss their current research efforts related to large scale data systems and lead a discussion of other publicly available data systems that can be used to improve child welfare services. During a ninety-minute session, panelists will cover each topic above through a prepared presentation. After presenting their prepared remarks, panelists will lead a group discussion related to working with large scale data systems.

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