Knowing the Numbers: Accessing and Using Child Welfare DataData can be an incredibly powerful tool for child welfare advocates, policymakers, and program administrators in their work to improve the lives of vulnerable children and families. From identifying target population characteristics and needs, to documenting program or service outcomes, to assessing a policy’s effect, using data to inform efforts to help children and families thrive is critical. Data can play an invaluable role in helping to highlight the need for a program, service, or policy, or to communicate about how a particular population is faring. They provide objective evidence to “make the case.”

This brief, authored by Sharon Vandivere and Kerry DeVooght at Child Trends,  provides an overview of data sources that are useful to the child welfare community specifically and answers the following questions: What are the major data sources? What can I do with the data/what can they tell me? How do I access them (both the public-use datasets with child-level information, as well as summary data)?