Society for Social Work and Research

Sixteenth Annual Conference Research That Makes A Difference: Advancing Practice and Shaping Public Policy
11-15 January 2012 I Grand Hyatt Washington I Washington, DC

99 Building Capacity for Child Welfare Research Through Improving Data Infrastructure and Culture Around Data Usage

Saturday, January 14, 2012: 8:00 AM-9:45 AM
Constitution C (Grand Hyatt Washington)
Cluster: Child Welfare
Terry D. Moore, MSW, University of Kansas, Hye-Chung Kum, PhD, MSW, MS, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, C. Joy Stewart, MSW, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Susan Smith, PhD, Casey Family Programs, Meliny J. Staysa, MSW, Missouri Department of Social Services and Michael Dineen, MA, Cornell University
The capacity and desire of child welfare (CW) agencies to engage in research and evaluation are greatly enhanced when there is a good data infrastructure, and when program staff and stakeholders are engaged in using data as a tool for improving outcomes. Several initiatives across the country are providing a core data infrastructure for undertaking research as well as a web-based reporting environment that engages staff and communities in the use of data to inform practice and policy decision making.

Improving data infrastructure is a complex undertaking, but has been achieved through strong collaboration among public agencies, private foundations, and interdisciplinary research teams in academia. In this roundtable, panelist will share their experiences from across the country in creating an infrastructure that provides standardized longitudinal data for research and management reporting for evaluating practice and policies. The panelists represent diverse perspectives and experiences and will share both successes and challenges for increasing data capacity, and promoting a culture for data informed policy and practice through effective university partnerships. Brief descriptions of the projects represented by the panelists are provided below:

Casey Family Programs is committed to safely reducing the number of children in foster care by half before the year 2020. Data driven decision making and outcome-focused practice based on solid research findings are key strategies to child welfare system improvements. Key elements for promoting effective partnerships to build and sustain research and evaluation collaborations as well as needs for improving the data infrastructure and measurement as experienced from their work nationally will be presented,

KU School of Social Welfare has partnered with Missouri DSS and eight other states to increase analytic capacity through its implementation of a web-based management reporting system consistent with a results-oriented management approach [Moore 2010]. The panelists will discuss steps to establishing a CW longitudinal dataset, developing a data/research usage culture, and establishing organizational supports through QA and QI, Practical examples will be provided of how the infrastructure supported in-depth research while incorporating other data sources (e.g. mental health).

UNC-CH in collaboration with NC-DHHS has a long history of building a sustainable comprehensive data infrastructure resulting in a strong capacity for CW research [Dean at el. 2008]. The team has become a primary source for CW information in NC with NC-DSS and other researchers relying on their data infrastructure. Panelist will focus on their experience in integrating CW data with employment, education, and court data as well as how to build capacity through effective interdisciplinary teams.

Cornell University houses the National Data Archive for Child Abuse and Neglect (NDACAN). Panelist will discuss experience in supporting the national data archive and efforts to build a public website for easier access to the national AFCARS and NCANDS data.

The goal will be to understand the needed data infrastructure to build capacity in CW research and evaluation as well as the capacity contemporary social work research needs to take on for building such a data infrastructure at universities and child welfare agencies across the country .

See more of: Roundtables