Connecting the Dots: Snapshots of Child Well-Being in LA County

Connecting the Dots is an informational resource coordinated by the Children’s Data Network at USC School of Social Work. The goal is to provide a narrative context for understanding “snapshots” of data concerning the health and well-being of children, families, and communities in Los Angeles County. We are excited to share the two newest snapshots on Leveraging Early Child and Education and Protective Factors in Practice. Our first four snapshots focus on Changing Demographics, Childhood Obesity, Preventing Child Maltreatment and Building Families and Community Strengths.


Stories and data can help connect the dots—revealing new insights and understandings of children and their families.

Connecting the Dots is the result of a cross-sector partnership committed to making data and research more accessible to those engaged in the development of public policy and the delivery of programs for children and families.

Connecting the Dots uses visualization tools coupled with local expert insights to create narrated and contextualized snapshots of data. Intended as a re-imagined “Los Angeles Children’s Scorecard”, the hope is that these data will not only spark discussion, but will also help identify and inform promising new pathways for strengthening Los Angeles County’s children and families.

Building Blocks

Exploring Local Data. Public and private agencies collect lots of data, but information is too often examined independently of other sources and grouped into such large geographies that local insights are lost. Snapshots present community focused data and stories.

Encouraging Partnership. Data can provide an important foundation for well-coordinated services for children and their families. Snapshots focus on emerging information and data gathered from research efforts, as well as community agencies working directly with children and families across Los Angeles.

Data Visualization. Visuals enable decision-makers to more quickly make connections and identify solutions. Snapshots feature charts, infographics, and other data visualizations that allow stakeholders to more easily consume data across multiple (often discrete) sources.

Evolving Conversations. The ongoing release of snapshots will build upon knowledge and insights generated through earlier data stories. While each snapshot will feature an initial set of data and local sources, we look forward to incorporating new visualizations, new data, and new stories as this effort and local conversations evolve.

Connecting the Dots is designed to focus attention on where we stand today and where we need to go in order to improve futures for LA’s children, families and communities.

Connecting the Dots is grounded in decades of collaborative work in Los Angeles County, where like-minded people have struggled to find better ways to use administrative data and emerging research findings to inform public policy and support collaborative decision-making. We recognize both the challenges and the tremendous opportunities in rethinking not only how we use data, but how it can be used to highlight the good work happening every day in communities across LA County.

The organizations that provide backbone support, coordination and leadership for Connecting the Dots are:

The Children’s Data Network at the University Of Southern California School Of Social Work

The Children’s Data Network is a data and research collaborative focused on the linkage and analysis of administrative records. In partnership with public agencies, philanthropic funders, and community stakeholders, we seek to generate knowledge and advance evidence-rich policies that will improve the health, safety, and well-being of our children.

California HealthCare Foundation

The California HealthCare Foundation informs policymakers and industry leaders, invests in ideas and innovations, and connects with change makers to create a more responsive, patient-centered health care system.

First 5 LA

First 5 LA is a leading early childhood advocate working collaboratively across L.A. County. Created in 1998 to invest L.A. County’s allocation of funds from California’s Proposition 10 tobacco tax, First 5 LA has invested more than $1.2 billion in efforts aimed at providing the best start for children from prenatal to age 5 and their families.


LiveStories is a web-based data tool that enables even non-technical users to analyze data and share insights, so knowledge can be shared faster across all organizational levels and more decisions can be made based on timely and relevant data.

Our Connecting the Dots data partners include:

Antoinette Andrews

First 5 LA, Assistant Director of Best Start Communities

Margaret Chao

LA County Department of Public Health, Chief, Research, Evaluation, and Planning Division

Cecilia Custodio

LA County Department of Children and Family Services, Chief, GIS, Research and Statistics Division

Pegah Faed

First 5 LA, Research Analyst

Kellie Figoten

LA County Department of Children and Family Services, Children's Services Administrator, System Improvement Section

Dorothy Fleisher

W. M. Keck Foundation, Director of Southern California Program

Teri Gillams

LA County Department of Children and Family Services, Office of Outcomes and Analytics

Greg Lecklitner

LA County Department of Mental Health, District Chief, Child Welfare Division

Will Nicholas

LA County Department of Public Health, Director of Health Impact Evaluation

Jonathan Nomachi

Advancement Project, Manager of Collaborative Initiatives

Susan Savage

Child Care Resource Center, Director of Research and Evaluation

Shannon Whaley

Public Health Foundation Enterprises (PHFE) WIC, Director of Research and Evaluation

Each snapshot is developed in collaboration with key experts who are collectively developing the data, doing the work, and helping people understand how the pieces of the puzzle can fit better to link children, families, and communities. These experts and their contributions are highlighted at the conclusion of each story.

The facilitators of the Connecting the Dots orchestra are:

Jacquelyn McCroskey

John Milner Professor of Child Welfare at the USC School of Social Work and Co-director of the Children’s Data Network

Cheryl Wold

MPH, Wold & Associates, Founder.