Tips On Using Data
- Track and analyze data on where in the process prospective parents drop off between inquiry and approval or between approval and having a child placed with them. Collect data from families on why they stopped the process. This data can help you determine common stages in the process where families may need some additional support and can help you distinguish understand what makes families leave. Having this data can help staff have an accurate understanding of the reasons why families leave, rather than relying on anecdotes or long-standing beliefs about why families leave.
- Map the location of your current foster, adoptive, and kinship families. Map the locations where families can receive support (e.g., respite care providers, support group meeting locations, etc.) and look at whether the services are available in the communities where your families live.
- Use a data dashboard to make it easy for staff to see data on a weekly or monthly basis and to see how the data changes over time. Share data on key areas such as placement stability, percentage of sibling groups placed together, the number of families that made it through the licensing or approval process, etc. Your data dashboard could be as simple as a bulletin board or dry-erase board with updated data highlights.
- Look at your data to find common characteristics of families you have successfully retained. For example, look at foster care families who have been actively involved with your agency for multiple years and identify what the families have in common (e.g., communities where they live, demographic profiles, forms of support they receive from your agency, connections with other community supports, etc.).
- Track and analyze data on the presenting issues and needs when families contact the agency needing support. Understanding the common areas of need will help your agency plan and target retention and support services more effectively.
- Also see our 2015 webinar, Strengthening Your System's Use of Data
This webinar discusses ways child welfare systems can use data effectively to inform recruitment, development, and support of foster, adoptive, and kinship families and provides strategies for advancing cross-unit collaboration and prioritizing data. View the webinar recording on our YouTube channel. Access all webinar materials on our website.
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