New data capacity supports child welfare systems in maintaining a stable supply of high-quality foster homes
It used to be that, as a field, child welfare just didn’t collect the information needed to answer questions about their system. But that’s not true anymore. The days of saying “we just don’t have the data” are over. We do have the data. And at the Data Center, we’re using it.
The latest addition to the Data Center’s family of resources is longitudinal administrative data on foster homes. Foster parents are principal agents of the foster care system, yet we know very little about the dynamics of retention and recruitment. Data about foster homes, though underused, is of high importance to the nation’s child welfare system. Creating the structure to easily use this data helps us define problems with our foster home capacity. It can tell us for example how many homes open and close each year, what the characteristics of these homes are, reasons homes close, and how many days open homes are actually occupied.
In our latest study – conducted in collaboration with the Annie E. Casey Foundation – we demonstrate once again the power of administrative data to help build a body of research evidence. In this case, by exploring questions about the process and quality of foster home recruitment and retention, with the goal of helping the system to maintain a stable supply of high-quality foster homes.
The evidence on foster home recruitment and retention provided by the “The Dynamics of Foster Home Recruitment and Retention” report, is just the tip of the iceberg. Linking foster home data to existing (FCDA) child data can provide much more evidence about, for example, the children placed in these homes, the match with the foster home, the likelihood the placement will disrupt, and the likelihood a foster parent leaves service due to a poor match with a child.
As Fred Wulczyn, the Director of the Data Center put it: “Foster homes are an important resource. However, greater attention has to be paid to what policymakers already know and how they can increase their knowledge with more effective use of data. We have tried to illustrate how that data might be used to build a body of evidence that points toward innovation. Without better problem definition up front, it is hard to see how the challenges of recruitment, retention, and quality can be addressed swiftly, safely, and effectively.”
- Click here to download the report.
- To learn more about building this type of capacity within your organization, contact us.
- Stay tuned for an upcoming webinar demonstrating how evidence generated from administrative data can support child welfare systems’ efforts to maintain a stable supply of high-quality foster homes. Subscribe to our newsletter to make sure you don’t miss it.