News & Perspectives

Exploring the changing landscape of child welfare technology, data sharing, and Family First

16. November 2018 Carole Hussey Human Services

Chronicles of Social Change recently published its annual “Kids on the Hill” issue, which is the digital publication’s only print issue each year, targeted toward legislators and staffers on Capitol Hill. Notably, this year’s issue also features articles by two PCG colleagues from the Human Services team: Carole Hussey and Shell Culp.

In “How Tech Ties into Family First,” Ms. Hussey explores how the recently passed Family First Prevention Services Act (Family First) could impact states’ efforts to build Comprehensive Child Welfare Information Systems (CCWIS) with federal assistance. One of the many challenges, according to Ms. Hussey, is that states are facing new requirements under Family First that will affect CCWIS design and development. These system projects are often led by IT people who may not appreciate the impact Family First regulatory changes will have on policy, practice, processes, and reporting. To help states more effectively prepare for Family First implementation, Ms. Hussey encourages agencies to develop a roadmap—bridging IT and program/policy teams—that outlines the business needs, policies, processes, and technology needs for the next one to three years. 

Ms. Culp also explores CCWIS and Family First in her article, “The Importance of Sharing State and Local Child Welfare Data,” but instead of the technology, Ms. Culp focuses in on the data, and the challenges (and opportunities) of data sharing. She highlights two fundamental issues impacting effective data sharing between government agencies at both the state and local level: ownership and leadership. Ms Culp asserts that CCWIS and Family First represent key initiatives that not only provide a focal point around kids and families but also have the potential to unite child welfare agencies toward data sharing despite these fundamental issues. Ultimately, she argues that agencies must make collaborative data sharing a priority as this will yield the data agencies need to make evidence-based service decisions that lead to better outcomes for children and families.

Read the full Chronicles of Social Change articles “How Tech Ties Into Family First” and “The Importance of Sharing State and Local Child Welfare Data.”