E-Notes, the monthly newsletter from the National Resource Center for Diligent Recruitment at AdoptUSKids.
National Resource Center for Diligent Recruitment at AdoptUSKids / E-Notes

This issue of E-Notes highlights resources and tools to build on the data skills many frontline staff already bring to their work to improve outcomes related to recruitment, development, and support of resource families.

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Do you like data?

# It’s not unusual to hear that frontline child welfare workers and supervisors “don’t like data.” That view reflects an inaccurate generalization and fails to account for the many ways that agencies, tribes, and states are using data to guide their diligent recruitment work. In fact, many staff don’t give themselves credit for the data-informed practice skills they already use on a day-to-day basis. They ask questions, pay attention to the responses, follow-up with clarifying questions, and draw it all together in assessment conclusions or service summaries. In other words, they regularly collect and analyze data—typically on an individual, case-by-case basis—and use this information to inform life-altering decisions affecting children, youth, and families. This experience and expertise in using qualitative data can also be used with quantitative data to help with assessing, planning, and making decisions. You can help your staff see that they already have a lot of experience and skill in working with data, which can help you engage them in data-driven planning and assessment.

Tools you can use

Questions to ask your data

A good place to start with data-driven planning is to identify questions that must be answered to understand your current situation and track progress in the future. A few examples of data questions that are important for you to ask for your diligent recruitment programs and plan include:

  • How long does the process take from initial inquiry to certification/licensing? How long does it take for families between milestones in the process (e.g., from application to completion of training)?
  • Where are our current families located in relation to where our children enter foster care?
  • What is the true bed capacity of our licensed foster homes? How many placement openings are currently available, and for what ages and other child characteristics?
  • How many resource families have left our agency in the past six months? What were their real reasons for leaving?

To learn more, see our publication, Data-Driven Recruitment: Key Data Elements on Foster and Adoptive Families (487 KB PDF), where you will find more information and additional questions to ask your data to increase the effectiveness of your recruitment efforts.

Collaboration between program and data/IT staff

Even with positive intentions, communication challenges may occur between your agency’s child welfare practitioners and the staff responsible for your data systems. The terminology used by each department is not always clearly understood by the other, and similar words and phrases can have different meanings in the two work areas. For suggestions to understand key terms and phrases and improve communication between colleagues in program and data areas, see our tip sheet, “Speaking the Same Language: Understanding Multiple Meanings of Terms Used by Child Welfare Program and IT/ Data Staff to Support Diligent Recruitment” (147 KB PDF).

Framework for using data to improve outcomes

Developed by the former National Resource Center for Child Welfare Data and Technology, the Framework for Managing with Data (227 KB PDF) is a tool to assist agencies in developing a comprehensive approach to collecting and using data to improve outcomes for children and youth. The framework will help you:

  • Engage staff at all levels and community partners throughout the process
  • Clarify and focus on an area or issue of interest
  • Consider key questions within your focus that you want to answer with data
  • Identify and select the appropriate and most useful data to examine the issue and answer your questions
  • Analyze data to explain what might be driving practice
  • Select appropriate strategies/tools
  • Develop an implementation plan that includes data monitoring
  • Monitor and assess implementation of the plan in relation to the expected results

Ideas from the field

Archived webinar: data-driven diligent recruitment

Many practical strategies can be found in NRCDR’s archived webinar, "Data-Driven Diligent Recruitment: Partnering and Prioritizing to Strengthen Your System’s Use of Data." This webinar highlighted:

  • Strategies and resources for partnering between child welfare program staff and data division staff
  • Important resource family data elements to collect and analyze to help you understand the effectiveness of your family recruitment, development, and support, and share ideas about different possible approaches to begin collecting and understanding this data
  • A real-world example from Arizona, a state child welfare system that is demonstrating the power of a strong partnership between data and program staff to inform data-driven recruitment efforts
  • Suggestions for useful tools to support your child welfare system’s efforts to use data to guide your recruitment strategies and implementation

View the recording of this one-hour webinar as a Flash file or on our YouTube channel and download the PowerPoint presentation (3.5 MB PDF).

News and announcements

Racial disproportionality and disparity issue brief

Child Welfare Information Gateway reports that research has consistently shown certain racial and ethnic groups, including African Americans and Native Americans, are overrepresented in the US child welfare system. The child welfare field has moved from acknowledging the issue to formulating and implementing solutions. Gateway recently updated the issue brief Racial Disproportionality and Disparity in Child Welfare that addresses the prevalence of racial and ethnic disproportionality and disparity in child welfare, reviews the latest literature on the topic, and highlights current state and local initiatives to address disproportionality.

Factsheets on relative caregiving

Child Trends has released a series of factsheets on relative caregiving with information compiled for the nation and for each state. The factsheets include data on children living with a relative foster parent in each jurisdiction, including numbers, age distribution, race/ethnicity, guardianship status, and funding for guardianship.

Child Maltreatment 2015

The most recent annual update on child abuse and neglect in the United States has been released by the Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families. The report is based on state-level data from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) and includes information on reports made to child protective services (CPS), children involved in CPS cases, child fatalities, perpetrators of child abuse and neglect, and available services. The full Child Maltreatment 2015 report is available to view and download on the Children's Bureau website, along with access to archived Child Maltreatment reports 1995–2014.

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AdoptUSKids is operated by the Adoption Exchange Association and is made possible by grant number 90CQ0002 from the Children’s Bureau. The contents of this email are solely the responsibility of the Adoption Exchange Association and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Children’s Bureau, ACYF, ACF, or HHS. The Children’s Bureau funds AdoptUSKids as part of a network of National Resource Centers established by the Children’s Bureau. Find out more about us.

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