Children's Bureau: An Office of the Administration for Children and Families

Methodology

About the Data

This data site presents data collected and analyzed for the annual Child Welfare Outcomes (CWO) Report. The CWO data site allows for significantly faster release of these data than is possible via the publication of the full Report. The data site features AFCARS and NCANDS data that have been reviewed and approved by the states for inclusion in the Report. In addition to state-level outcome measures data, the data site contains additional context data regarding child maltreatment, caseworker visits, and alternate race and ethnicity breakdowns.

A full list of the outcomes and measures reported on by the CWO Report can be found here: Outcomes and Measures.pdf

Data Sources

The National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) is a federally sponsored effort that encourages states to collect and analyze data pertaining to children who come to the attention of public child protective services agencies as alleged victims of abuse or neglect. The data are submitted voluntarily by the states, the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (referred to collectively as the "states"). The NCANDS Child File is a data file that states submit annually that contains detailed case information about each child who is the subject of an investigation or assessment in response to a maltreatment allegation. Any child who is associated with a report and who has received a disposition during the year is included in the Child File. Although a disposition usually refers to a finding regarding the allegation, it also can include reports that were closed without a finding.

Title IV-E agencies are required to submit case-level information on the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) twice a year on all children who are under their care and responsibility for placement, children who are covered by an interagency agreement with another public agency that receives Title IV-E funds, and children who have been adopted with Title IV-E agency involvement. The requirements for AFCARS are codified in federal regulation at 45 CFR 1355.40.

Data for the caseworker visits requirements are not part of NCANDS and AFCARS, but states are required submit them separately each December, per Section 479A of the Act. Some states elected to use a sampling procedure approved by the Children's Bureau rather than reporting information on all children in foster care. Additional information regarding caseworker visits can be found here: Caseworker Visits.pdf

This Report also uses child population data, which are provided by the U.S. Census Bureau on an annual basis. Total child population estimates are derived by calculating expected population change from the most recent decennial census data. Child poverty data are from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey, an ongoing survey that annually samples a small percentage of the population to provide communities with information relevant to their service provision and investments.

A summary of the specific data elements used to calculate context data and each outcome measure in the CWO Report can be found here: Data Sources and Elements.pdf

Data Quality

In the CWO Report, two separate national medians were computed for each measure. In the yearly Range of State Performance tables, national medians are calculated using data from all states that met the relevant data-quality thresholds for that particular year only. In the Median State Performance and Change in Performance Over Time tables, national medians are calculated only using data from the states that met the relevant data-quality thresholds for all the relevant FYs. This is done to provide a more accurate calculation of change over time. A state whose data did not match mA summary of the data quality criteria used, including a list of states excluded from each outcome measure, can be found here: CWO Data Quality Definitions and Exclusions.pdf

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