Providing Access to Child Welfare Data to Encourage Better Decisions
With today's technology, we can do so much more to help people easily access and understand data – going beyond complex spreadsheets with rows and rows of numbers. Through a data-sharing agreement with the Washington DSHS Children's Administration, Partners for Our Children developed the Washington State Child Well-Being Data Portal– a powerful web tool that provides access to data about children and families who interact with the child welfare system. The portal aims to enhance transparency, build understanding and provide decision support for child welfare practitioners and policymakers.
Since the Data Portal launched in 2013, it's become a go-to resource for many stakeholders – everyone from policymakers to family court judges to agency staff to advocacy partners have found the tool to be valuable in helping understand how the system is working and what areas may need improvement.
Just as businesses use data to inform decisions, it is critical for child welfare systems to use readily available data when making decisions about practice or policy, especially when these decisions have potential to significantly affect the lives of children and families. Where is the greatest need? Who is overrepresented in the system? Where do we find the best outcomes and what is that office doing differently in order to achieve these outcomes? Many questions that can be addressed through data and we believe this tool is a step in the right direction for child welfare in Washington State.