Linked administrative records provide a rich resource for data-driven policy and program decisions. Yet, integrating data from different public agencies also presents ethical, political, operational, and scientific challenges. Understanding potential hurdles, sharing best practices, and developing a knowledge base can help us to realize the vast potential data linkage holds for improving outcomes for children and families.
Record Linkage: Technical Documents
Historically, administrative data were maintained as paper records and their utility for purposes of research and evaluation were limited. Paper records were burdensome to compile, expensive to share, and had many clerical errors. Technological advances in computing, however, now make administrative records an increasingly valuable source of data for research.
Linked Analyses: Research Examples
The inability to cross agency data “silos” has long undermined efforts to evaluate the collective size and impact of program investments, and has restricted assessments of population needs that would allow for resources to be strategically (and equitably) allocated. Yet, increasingly, linked data are advancing our understanding of child population dynamics, allowing us to connect the dots for children over time and across service systems.
An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.
The Children’s Data Network is a university, agency, and community collaborative focused on the integration and application of data to inform programs and policies for children and their families. The Children’s Data Network receives essential infrastructure funding from First 5 LA and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, with additional project support from other philanthropic and public partners. The project is housed at USC’s School of Social Work and developed in collaboration with the California Child Welfare Indicators Project.