The Need for Self-Evaluation

Using Data to Guide Policy and Practice

By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

January 7, 2001

Summary

Written to describe the various data tools and approaches Family to Family states and communities used for their self-evaluation, the document provides an overview of four data tools child welfare agencies can use to guide planning, policy and services.  These include longitudinal analysis, population profiles, caseload projections and desktop mapping.  States were just starting to develop their Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information Systems when the document was written; thus, some states may have incorporated some or all of these tools into their systems since this document’s original publication. The document also includes recommendations, suggestions of how to start and examples of lessons learned.   

Table of Contents

Key Takeaway

Data Can Be Useful

Family to Family grantees were skeptical about conducting self-evaluations.  The usefulness of data for the self-evaluation was only realized after grantees:  formed self-evaluation teams with both program and data staff on the teams; collected baseline data pertaining to the expected outcomes; and gained experience working with and analyzing the data as it related to Family to Family goals.

Findings & Stats

Caseload Information

When child welfare caseload data is examined from a point in time perspective, the data can be quite different from that gathered over a set period of time.  This graphic illustrates how the information collected during 1995 varies from that collected on a single day (1996 caseload).  The conclusions a policy maker might make about child placements could be misleading if only caseload data were used.  

Statements & Quotations