New Tool Kit Helps Child Welfare Leaders Utilize Data to Support Expectant and Parenting Youth

Posted June 2, 2019
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
New tool kit helps system leaders collect helpful data on expectant and parenting youth in foster care.

Being a par­ent is hard at any age, but it can be even hard­er for younger moms and dads. And hard­er yet for young par­ents in fos­ter care. To sup­port these young par­ents and their fam­i­lies, sys­tems lead­ers — rang­ing from child wel­fare to edu­ca­tion to juve­nile jus­tice — need reli­able data to guide poli­cies and practices.

Yet, accord­ing to Tam­mi Flem­ing, senior asso­ciate with the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Jim Casey Youth Oppor­tu­ni­ties Ini­tia­tive: Data on expec­tant and par­ent­ing youth in fos­ter care and their chil­dren are often not col­lect­ed or ana­lyzed in a sys­tem­at­ic way.”

To help address this need, the Casey Foun­da­tion — in part­ner­ship with the Cen­ter for the Study of Social Pol­i­cy and more than 20 nation­al experts — has cre­at­ed a tool kit for lead­ers work­ing in a range of pub­lic-serv­ing systems.

Called the Expec­tant and Young Par­ents in Fos­ter Care: Sys­tems Lead­ers Data Tool Kit, this new resource has nine dis­tinct com­po­nents. They are:

  1. FAQ: Infor­ma­tion about the tool kit and how it can help strength­en data col­lec­tion, use and analy­sis to improve out­comes for expec­tant and par­ent­ing youth in fos­ter care.
  2. Max­i­miz­ing the Fam­i­ly First Act: A sum­ma­ry of pro­vi­sions aimed at improv­ing ser­vices for expec­tant and par­ent­ing youth in fos­ter care and their families.
  3. Pol­i­cy Resource Guide: Links to sam­ple poli­cies and an out­line for devel­op­ing and improv­ing poli­cies for expec­tant and par­ent­ing youth in fos­ter care.
  4. 10 Tips for Build­ing Effec­tive Data Sys­tems: A sum­ma­ry of 10 crit­i­cal steps to ini­ti­ate or strength­en cur­rent data sys­tems for expec­tant and par­ent­ing youth in fos­ter care.
  5. Data Ele­ments Check­list: A tool to con­duct a quick assess­ment of exist­ing data ele­ments and to help inform con­tin­u­ous qual­i­ty improve­ment efforts.
  6. Guide to Data Shar­ing and Col­lab­o­ra­tion: A doc­u­ment that describes ways to share infor­ma­tion and data and links to tem­plates for estab­lish­ing agreements.
  7. Fed­er­al Data and Report­ing Require­ments Matrix: A guide that high­lights fed­er­al reg­u­la­tions for data require­ments and report­ing on expec­tant and par­ent­ing youth in fos­ter care.
  8. Con­tin­u­ous Qual­i­ty Improve­ment for Mean­ing­ful Use Data Sys­tems: A doc­u­ment that describes how child wel­fare lead­ers can cre­ate a con­tin­u­ous improve­ment process.
  9. State-by-State Data Pro­files: A col­lec­tion of state-lev­el data col­lect­ed dur­ing the Expec­tant and Par­ent­ing Youth in Fos­ter Care Sur­vey in 2018.

Beyond gath­er­ing infor­ma­tion to devel­op smarter poli­cies and prac­tices, sys­tems lead­ers have anoth­er rea­son to ramp up their data col­lec­tion efforts for these fam­i­lies: the 2018 pas­sage of the Fam­i­ly First Pre­ven­tion Ser­vices Act.

Fam­i­ly First will pro­vide access to pre­ven­tion ser­vices as ear­ly as Octo­ber 2019, but juris­dic­tions are required to col­lect data to receive these ben­e­fits,” says Flem­ing, who led the work­group that devel­oped the tool kit and is con­tin­u­ing to expand the Foundation’s efforts in this area. We are focused on ensur­ing that lead­ers at all lev­els are aware that they need to retrieve this data, so they have the nec­es­sary resources to sup­port these young families.”

To cre­ate the tool kit, the work­group sur­veyed child wel­fare juris­dic­tions to learn how expec­tant and par­ent­ing youth in fos­ter care are far­ing. The sur­vey under­scored the neces­si­ty of col­lect­ing, ana­lyz­ing and using data across states and sys­tems and how it could help states make pol­i­cy and prac­tice deci­sions based on a bet­ter under­stand­ing of the expe­ri­ences, strengths and needs of these families.

For Flem­ing, the tool kit is a means to an impor­tant end: We need a com­pre­hen­sive under­stand­ing to sup­port these young fam­i­lies,” she says. We have to know more about the expe­ri­ences and needs of expec­tant and par­ent­ing youth to help design the ser­vices that are going to make the biggest dif­fer­ences for them.”

The Expec­tant and Par­ent­ing Youth in Fos­ter Care: Sys­tems Lead­ers Data Tool Kit is avail­able free of charge. Juris­dic­tions can con­tact the Casey Foun­da­tion to receive addi­tion­al sup­port — via phone calls or video con­fer­ences — from experts with from the Foun­da­tion and the Cen­ter for the Study of Social Policy.

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