The Data Portal, now five years in operation, is a powerful web-based tool that provides access to child welfare data in Washington state. The portal provides information on the system’s timeliness, rates of investigation, foster care, permanency placement, overrepresentation, and many other indicators.
The goal of the Data Portal remains the same as when it was launched in 2013: to bring enhanced transparency and understanding of a system that serves some of the most vulnerable families usually with many complex needs. At its inception, the approach of the portal was to share meaningful data that could inform better decision-making for better outcomes. As we celebrate our fifth year in pursuit of that goal, the stakes remain high to ensure that focus and attention are placed on how the system is working and where improvements need to be made.
Data for the portal are made available through a data-sharing agreement between Partners for Our Children (POC) and the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), Children’s Administration. The portal is designed to be used by a diverse group of stakeholders, from community members to practitioners, to policymakers. To date, the portal has been used for reporting in news articles, research projects, policy initiatives, and to provide support for practice decisions.
If you use the portal, you will be able to find out answers to some fundamental questions about child welfare in Washington state, such as:
What is the reason why households are investigated?
How many children are currently in out-of-home care?
How long are children staying in foster care?
How often do children reunify with their parents?
Questions like these can be useful for generally exploring the child welfare system or giving important context for a child welfare related issues.
Our plan at POC is to grow the portal by expanding our data sources to other relevant systems and to share it more widely. Using these markers can bring further insight and possible points of intervention to the increasingly complex child welfare system.
Please share the link to the portal to your colleagues and be in touch with us about any comments or questions.