State and local agencies often struggle to capture the full extent of child abuse and neglect occurring in their jurisdictions. In part, this is because it is difficult to measure child maltreatment, especially for cases not reported to Child Protective Services. Two new briefs from the Administration for Children and Families’ Child Maltreatment Incidence Data Linkages project provide practical information about how to help solve this problem by tapping into multiple administrative data sources and linking them together to produce more powerful surveillance tools.
The first brief, Sharing and Accessing Administrative Data: Promising Practices and Lessons Learned from the Child Maltreatment Incidence Data Linkages Project, shares promising practices based on the experiences of five research groups participating in the project. The lessons learned relate to four key activities essential to sharing and accessing data:
- Developing agreements for data sharing and use
- Protecting the data’s security, confidentiality, and privacy
- Securing institutional review board (IRB) and other approvals
- Accessing the data
Some of the key takeaways relate to strategies for building trust with data partners, tapping into existing data use agreements, and using publicly available data to simplify sharing.
The second brief, Preparing and Linking Administrative Data: Promising Practices and Lessons Learned from the Child Maltreatment Incidence Data Linkages Project, discusses what to think about when planning a data linkage project. The lessons learned relate to:
- Processing and cleaning data
- Collaborating with partners to carry out linkages
- Completing linkages
This brief pays special attention to machine-learning techniques and tools to efficiently link larger databases, an innovative practice that three of the research groups used. The brief also shows how the research groups’ projects used linkages of varying levels of complexity to yield new information for the field.
About the Project
The Child Maltreatment Incidence Data Linkages project is funded by the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE) at the Administration for Children and Families. It identified five research groups with experience using linked administrative data to examine the incidence of child maltreatment and related risk and protective factors. The project supported these groups in enhancing their approaches to administrative data linkage through acquiring new data sources, using new methods, or replicating existing methods. OPRE contracted with Mathematica to conduct the project.