Improving Child and Family Services Through Integrated Data Systems

Updated August 22, 2019 | Posted April 26, 2017
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Blog improvingchildandfamilyservices 2017

Pub­lic agen­cies often oper­ate in silos, lack­ing crit­i­cal infor­ma­tion and data about the full spec­trum of ser­vices and risks that are shap­ing the lives of chil­dren and fam­i­lies. Enter inte­grat­ed data sys­tems, an infor­ma­tion tool which a grow­ing num­ber of pol­i­cy­mak­ers and lead­ers are lever­ag­ing to enhance deci­sion-mak­ing and coor­di­na­tion across a wide range of social pro­grams that have a shared stake in sup­port­ing families.

By con­nect­ing reg­u­lar pub­lic agency records, inte­grat­ed data sys­tems enable pol­i­cy­mak­ers, prac­ti­tion­ers, advo­cates and researchers to look across pro­gram­sand find action­able intel­li­gence to solve com­plex social issues. For exam­ple: inte­grat­ed data sys­tems can help users bet­ter under­stand rip­ple effects, such as how fos­ter care place­ment deci­sions affect stu­dent per­for­mance and how parental incar­cer­a­tion affects mul­ti­ple gen­er­a­tions with­in a family.

For more on this cost-effec­tive and ver­sa­tile infor­ma­tion tool, see the list below, which high­lights key case stud­ies, resources, research and real-world exam­ples of inte­grat­ed data sys­tems in action.

Using Inte­grat­ed Data Sys­tems for Social Pol­i­cy Decision-Making

Con­nect­ing the Dots, a white paper by social pol­i­cy experts Den­nis Cul­hane and John Fan­tuz­zo, is the first and most con­cise descrip­tion of the val­ue of inte­grat­ed data sys­tems for pol­i­cy­mak­ers. The doc­u­ment also out­lines the major legal, eth­i­cal, tech­ni­cal and eco­nom­ic chal­lenges that lead­ers face devel­op­ing these systems.

Con­nect­ing Peo­ple and Place, a Casey-fund­ed ini­tia­tive by the Nation­al Neigh­bor­hood Indi­ca­tors Part­ner­ship, explores the use of inte­grat­ed data sys­tems in six cities to address chron­ic absence in schools, improve civic engage­ment and exam­ine how youth are far­ing after aging out of fos­ter care. The 2016 report, Using Inte­grat­ed Data to Improve Com­mu­ni­ties, sum­ma­rizes the initiative’s findings.

Pro­ceed­ings from the Pub­lic-Aca­d­e­m­ic Research Col­lo­qui­um, con­vened by the Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia and oth­er nation­al and inter­na­tion­al part­ners, high­lights the work of orga­ni­za­tions that have suc­cess­ful­ly used inte­grat­ed admin­is­tra­tive data for social pol­i­cy research.

An infor­graph­ic — Data Link­ages Enable Indi­vid­ual Sup­port and Shared Suc­cess — from the Data Qual­i­ty Cam­paign demon­strates how inte­grat­ed data can sup­port stu­dent succcess.

Videos About Inte­grat­ed Data Systems

Intro­duc­ing Inte­grat­ed Data Systems
Inte­grat­ed Data Sys­tems are enabling pol­i­cy­mak­ers, researchers, and orga­ni­za­tions to employ data-dri­ven deci­sion-mak­ing to improve com­mu­ni­ties, schools, pub­lic pro­grams and much more. Watch the videos below to learn about inte­grat­ed data sys­tems in action.

Oth­er videos on inte­grat­ed data systems:

Research and Imple­men­ta­tion Partners

Action­able Intel­li­gence for Social Pol­i­cy (AISP), a Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia-based ini­tia­tive, focus­es on the devel­op­ment, use and inno­va­tion of inte­grat­ed data sys­tems for pol­i­cy analy­sis and pro­gram reform. Its grow­ing net­work includes cities, coun­ties and states nationwide.

Nation­al Neigh­bor­hood Indi­ca­tors Part­ner­ship (NNIP), a col­lab­o­ra­tion between the Urban Insti­tute and part­ners in 30 cities, aims to devel­op and use neigh­bor­hood-lev­el infor­ma­tion sys­tems for com­mu­ni­ty build­ing and local, data-based deci­sion-mak­ing. Its resource page lists pub­li­ca­tions and activ­i­ties from a num­ber of efforts under­tak­en by these part­ners over the last few years.

Data Qual­i­ty Cam­paign (DQC), the nation’s lead­ing author­i­ty on edu­ca­tion data pol­i­cy, advo­cates for devel­op­ing state edu­ca­tion data sys­tems, includ­ing forg­ing cross-state con­nec­tions that are cru­cial for sup­port­ing students.

Inte­grat­ed Data Sys­tem Case Stud­ies and Real-World Examples

The brief Using Inte­grat­ed Data Sys­tems to Improve Child Wel­fare Out­comes” tells how two states are using inte­grat­ed data sys­tems to cre­ate and sus­tain social poli­cies that help reduce the reuni­fi­ca­tion time­line for chil­dren in fos­ter care and their parents.

The brief Using Inte­grat­ed Data Sys­tems to Improve Case Man­age­ment and Devel­op Pre­dic­tive Mod­el­ing Tools” exam­ines how sev­er­al coun­ties and states are shar­ing inte­grat­ed data sys­tems infor­ma­tion about spe­cif­ic clients with pro­gram staff to improve front­line deci­sion making.

High­light­ing efforts in Cleve­land, Using Inte­grat­ed Data to Iden­ti­fy and Solve Hous­ing Con­di­tions that Harm School Readi­ness” shows how data sys­tems can be com­bined to iden­ti­fy edu­ca­tion­al risk fac­tors and then devel­op and imple­ment solu­tions for address­ing them.

The brief Inte­grat­ed Data are Key to Pay for Suc­cess’ ” describes how one coun­ty has used inte­grat­ed data sys­tems to devel­op an inno­v­a­tive pay-for-suc­cess pro­gram to serve a par­tic­u­lar­ly vul­ner­a­ble pop­u­la­tion: home­less moth­ers who have chil­dren in the child wel­fare system.

The brief Using Inte­grat­ed Data Sys­tems to Strength­en Col­lec­tive Impact in Out-of-School Pro­grams” tells how non­prof­its man­ag­ing after-school pro­grams in two sites are using inte­grat­ed data sys­tems to address chron­ic absen­teeism and improve aca­d­e­m­ic performance.

The arti­cle Get­ting Big Data to the Good Guys” exam­ines how using inte­grat­ed data sys­tems changed San Francisco’s approach to inter­ven­ing with at-risk youth and helped define the path that young peo­ple took through the city’s social safe­ty net.

The blog post Sup­port­ing Stu­dents in Fos­ter Care,” authored by a senior staff attor­ney at the Amer­i­can Bar Asso­ci­a­tion Cen­ter on Chil­dren and the Law, explores how inte­grat­ed data sys­tems can be used to improve the frus­trat­ing­ly low aca­d­e­m­ic achieve­ment of stu­dents in fos­ter care. A cor­re­spond­ing fact sheet, from the Data Qual­i­ty Cam­paign, reports on the num­ber of states that secure­ly link pub­lic school data sys­tems with fos­ter care data sys­tems to help address this issue.

The Atlantic arti­cle, How a House Can Shape a Child’s Future,” shows how Case West­ern Uni­ver­si­ty linked mul­ti­ple sources of admin­is­tra­tive data in one coun­ty to bet­ter under­stand how hous­ing insta­bil­i­ty and qual­i­ty can impact school readi­ness. The Cen­ter on Urban Pover­ty and Com­mu­ni­ty Devel­op­ment also released a final report that cov­ers this research in detail.

Build­ing the Tool

Four AISP inno­va­tion expert pan­el reports detail inno­v­a­tive solu­tions to com­mon chal­lenges with inte­grat­ed data sys­tems relat­ed to gov­er­nance, legal issues, tech­nol­o­gy and secu­ri­ty, and data standards.

Inte­grat­ed Data Sys­tems and Stu­dent Pri­va­cy, a report released by the U.S. Depart­ment of Education’s Pri­va­cy and Tech­ni­cal Assis­tance Cen­ter, tells how orga­ni­za­tions can cre­ate inte­grat­ed data sys­tems that include stu­dent edu­ca­tion records and are com­pli­ant with fed­er­al pri­va­cy law (par­tic­u­lar­ly the Fam­i­ly Edu­ca­tion­al Rights and Pri­va­cy Act, known as FERPA).

Tes­ti­mo­ny to the Com­mis­sion on Evi­dence-Based Pol­i­cy­mak­ing, deliv­ered in Jan­u­ary 2017, includes dis­cus­sions on mod­els for acquir­ing, link­ing and using data for research, exam­ples of state inno­va­tions, and the Nation­al Vital Sta­tis­tics Sys­tem. The Casey Foundation’s Cindy Guy also sub­mit­ted tes­ti­mo­ny to the com­mis­sion on the ben­e­fit of inte­grat­ed data sys­tems in meet­ing the needs of com­mu­ni­ties of color.

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