ERIC Number: ED480612
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2003-Jul
Reference Count: N/A
Child Welfare: Most States Are Developing Statewide Information Systems, but Reliability of Child Welfare Data Could Be Improved.
Pietrowiak, Diana; Schibanoff, Sara L.
To better monitor children and families served by state child welfare agencies, Congress authorized matching funds for the development of statewide automatic child welfare information systems (SACWIS) and required that U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) compile information on children served by state agencies. This report to Congress reviews states' experiences in developing SACWIS and HHS's role in assisting in their development; factors affecting reliability of data that states collect and report on children served by child welfare agencies, and HHS's role in ensuring reliability; and practices that child welfare agencies use to overcome challenges associated with SACWIS development and data reliability. Information was collected through a Web-based survey of all 50 states and the District of Columbia, through state visits (Colorado, Iowa, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma), through a review of SACWIS and Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System reports, and through interviews of HHS, state, and local officials. Findings indicated that 47 states are developing or operating a SACWIS, but many continue to face challenges developing their systems. Although most state officials recognized benefits of developing SACWIS, states reported a median delay of 2.5 years beyond the timeframes set for completion. Difficulties cited included challenges receiving state funding and creating systems reflecting work processes. Several factors affected states ability to collect and report reliable adoption, foster care, and child abuse and neglect data, including insufficient caseworker training and inaccurate and incomplete data entry. Despite HHS assistance, many states report ongoing challenges, such as the lack of clear and documented guidance on how to report child welfare data. Some states reported using a variety of practices to address the challenges associated with developing SACWIS and improving data reliability. The report recommends that HHS consider ways to enhance the guidance and assistance offered to states. The report's four appendices include information on the study methodology, stages of SACWIS development, and HHS comments. (Contains a 10-item bibliography and a list of related Government Accounting Office [GAO] publications.) (KB)
Descriptors: Adoption, Child Abuse, Child Neglect, Child Welfare, Children, Data Collection, Foster Care, Information Systems, Reliability, State Agencies
U.S. General Accounting Office, 441 G Street, NW, Room LM, Washington, DC 20548. Tel: 202-512-6000; Fax: 202-512-6061; Web site: http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/ordtab.pl.
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: General Accounting Office, Washington, DC.