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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(10), 1223;

How Can Data Drive Policy and Practice in Child Welfare? Making the Link in Canada

Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto, 246 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON M5S 1V4, Canada
Centre for Research on Children and Families, McGill University, 3506 University Street, Montreal, QC H3A 2A7, Canada
School of Social Work, University of Montreal, 3150 Jean Brillant, Montreal, QC H3T 1J7, Canada
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 31 July 2017 / Revised: 9 October 2017 / Accepted: 13 October 2017 / Published: 14 October 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Using Big Data to Advance Knowledge in Child Maltreatment)
PDF [332 KB, uploaded 14 October 2017]


Formal university–child welfare partnerships offer a unique opportunity to begin to fill the gaps in the child welfare knowledge base and link child welfare services to the realities of practice. With resources from a knowledge mobilization grant, a formal partnership was developed between the University of Toronto, clinicians, policy analysts, and researchers from child welfare agencies across Ontario. The key objectives of the grant included: (1) enhancing the capacity of service providers to access and analyze child welfare data to inform service and policy decisions; (2) integrating clinical expertise in service and policy decisions; and (3) developing a joint research agenda addressing high-priority knowledge gaps. This partnership was an opportunity to advance the evidence base with respect to service provision in Ontario and to create a culture of knowledge and evidence that would eventually support more complex research initiatives. Administrative data was analyzed for this partnership through the Ontario Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (OCANDS)—the first child welfare data system in Ontario to track child welfare-involved children and their families. Child welfare agencies identified recurrence as an important priority and agency-driven analyses were subsequently conducted on OCANDS generated recurrence Service Performance Indicators (SPI’s). Using an urgent versus chronic investigative taxonomy for analyses, findings revealed that the majority of cases did not recur within 12 months and cases identified as chronic needs are more likely to return to the attention of child welfare authorities. One of the key outcomes of the partnership — helping agencies to understand their administrative data is described, as are considerations for next steps for future partnerships and research. View Full-Text
Keywords: child welfare; university–child welfare agency partnerships; participatory research; administrative data; research capacity child welfare; university–child welfare agency partnerships; participatory research; administrative data; research capacity
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Fallon, B.; Filippelli, J.; Black, T.; Trocmé, N.; Esposito, T. How Can Data Drive Policy and Practice in Child Welfare? Making the Link in Canada. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14, 1223.

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