Unified Court and Child Welfare Data System Streamlines Research, Practice

The New York State Child Welfare Court Improvement Program (CWCIP) is a federally funded initiative that promotes continuous quality improvement at the intersection of the legal/judicial system and child welfare. Every year since 2011, CWCIP has published the “Child Welfare Court Data Metrics” report, which provides longitudinal information about both child welfare and court-related outcomes. Chapin Hall researchers designed the analytic framework for the metrics as well as the process through which the metrics are produced by county and updated each year.

What we did

We transformed administrative data collected by the New York State Office of Court Admistration (OCA) about child welfare cases into a flexible longitudinal database. Those data include court filings, petitions, appearances, placements, dispositions, permanency planning hearings, and discharges. OCA uses the database use to answer questions and to generate county-specific reports of child welfare case programs and outcomes.

What we found

We found that OCA policy makers made immediate use of the new database, which formed the foundation for county-level collaborations between local courts and child welfare agencies in New York State. Since our work in 2011, OCA policy makers have continued to make this information available to local courts. Leaders at every level use the database to generate reports, build evidence to understand outcomes, and inform decision-making.

What it means

This work demonstrates the value of court-level administrative data for research and practice. Longitudinal information resources like administrative data can improve court-related child welfare processes and outcomes.

Since development this resource for New York State, we have also created similar resources for the state of Nevada. Other states and jurisdictions should consider adopting this database model to improve research and practice at the intersection of child welfare and the justice system.

Recommended Citation
Child Welfare Court Improvement Project. (2016). Child welfare court data metrics: Key indicators 2016 -- New York State. New York, NY: New York State Unified Court System. Available at http://nycourts.gov/ip/cwcip/Publications/2016CWCIPDataMetrics-NYState.pdf

This report is available through the New York State Unified Court System website, linked below.

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