No. 4 July 2004
Data in Child Welfare: Learning Resources
As this issue of Childrens
Services Practice Notes demonstrates, actively using outcome information
in their decision making offers significant benefits to child welfare
agencies and the families they serve.
Yet it is also true that to
work successfully with outcomes data, agencies must learn new skills,
strategies, and ways of thinking. For some, the learning curve is steep.
Fortunately, there are resources
out there to help agencies make this shift. Here is a description of some
of the courses, newsletters, and web sites we think you will find most
Working with Outcomes. In support of North Carolinas
Multiple Response System (MRS), the NC Division of Social Services will
soon offer a data-related training course for child welfare supervisors.
The course, Working with Outcomes, will be designed to support
counties in their efforts to use data to guide practice and enhance agency
The Jordan Institute for Families
at the UNC-CH School of Social Work, which is developing this course,
invites North Carolina county DSS supervisors, directors, and administrators
to help shape the training by telling them about their learning needs
with regard to the use of outcomes data. Since they are considering developing
an online component to this course, they would also like to hear about
your willingness to engage in online learning. Please e-mail your comments
Data Warehouse Training.
The NC Division of Social Services offers training that addresses the
basic elements of the States data warehouse data set, which draws
from information entered on the NCDHHS form 5104. The training also explains
how to make basic queries, such as how to learn how many cases were substantiated
in your county last year. For a listing of courses and course times, go
Interested in learning more about self-evaluation or what you can do to
build your capacity to use data to enhance your performance? A good first
step would be to visit the self-evaluation resource page developed by
Dr. Lynn Usher, a professor at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Social Work.
Of particular interest on
this page is the link to Measuring Outcomes in Child Welfare, a
self-evaluation how-to manual for agencies that Usher and others from
UNC created in connection with a series of data camps they
conducted for members of Family to Family self-evaluation teams.
Looking for a good basic introduction to outcome-oriented services
in child welfare? Then we recommend the University of Michigans
Training Program for Child Welfare Supervisors. This free
online course offers a 23-minute module, taught by Drs. Kathleen
Faller and Bill Meezan, that will help supervisors and frontline
workers deepen their understanding of federal mandates regarding
outcomes in child welfare and raise their awareness of the Child
and Family Services Reviews, the Chafee Foster Care Independence
Program, and the role of national data bases such as AFCARS &
This site is worth
visiting not only for its content, but because it really does
deliver satisfying online learning. We think you will be surprised
to find that this module gives you an experience that is remarkably
close to the one you might have if you attended a class taught
by these insightful, respected scholars. Location: <www.ssw.umich.edu/tpcws/outcomeOrientedServices/>.
Newsletters on Child Welfare Outcomes
Want to learn more about child welfare outcomes and how to use them? Then
consult the National Child Welfare Resource Center for Organizational
project strengthens and supports organizations committed to the welfare
of children, youth, and families through research, training, technical
assistance, and evaluation. It strives to improve outcomes for families
and children by enhancing management and operations, bolstering organizational
capacity, and promoting service integration.
Readers particularly interested
in child welfare outcomes data should consult the following issues of
this resource centers newsletter, Managing Care.
Want to know more about interpreting outcomes data and working with statistical
information? A good place to turn is the pointers section
of Prevent Child Abuse North Carolinas data page, at <www.preventchildabusenc.org/neglectdata.htm>.
Here you will find basic definitions
of and formulas for calculating averages, ratios, percentages, etc. Much
of this information is based on Simmons and Jablonskis 1990 book,
An Advocates Guide to Using Data.
Curriculum from Maine
The University of Southern Maine has developed Using Information Management
to Support the Goals of Safety, Permanency, and Well Being, a course
that teaches child welfare supervisors to use State Automated Child Information
System (SACWIS) data to improve casework supervision.
Although North Carolina does
not have a SACWIS, agencies will still find this curriculum useful for
the way it teaches supervisors data analysis techniques and skills that
enable them to use data to improve child welfare services. The entire
curriculum can be downloaded free from: <www.muskie.usm.maine.edu/sacwis>
National Resource Center for Information Technology in Child Welfare
assists State, local, and tribal child welfare agencies and the courts
in improving outcomes for children and families through the use of information
An annotated list of data sources can be found in the online version of
Childrens Services Practice Notes, vol. 9, no. 4 <www.practicenotes.org>.
Do you have questions about child welfare data, data entry, or evaluation
in North Carolina? Contact the NC Division of Social Services' Adolph
Simmons, Jr. (919/733-3801; Adolph.Simmons@ncmail.net).
© 2004 Jordan Institute for