One of President Joe Biden’s first executive orders in office instructed various federal agencies to assess how the federal government could do better to advance racial equity in America. In line with that, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) announced last March that it would begin the Child Welfare Study to Enhance Equity with Data, or CW-SEED.
Late last month, in the Federal Register, the agency gave its first indication of how the study will proceed, and made clear what the mission was: determining “to what extent data are used to explore equity in service delivery and child and family outcomes, to identify barriers or problematic data practices, and to explore efforts by child welfare agencies and their partners to use data to reduce barriers across the continuum of child welfare services.”
In Youth Services Insider’s opinion, it is a necessary step towards peeling the onion layers back. Recent quantitative research has shown the scope of CPS investigations, particularly for Black and Native American families, and federal data has long displayed the disproportionate amount of Black and Native American children in foster care. Less is known about the delivery of anything other than foster care as an intervention, and how the provision of services varies by race, gender, or other demographic identifiers.
CW-SEED will take a qualitative approach to learning about how data can be used to explore this subject. According to the Federal Register notice, the work will focus on building case studies of six child welfare systems — state, local or tribal, and our guess is it will intentionally be a mix of all three. This will require a collection and review of documents, followed by focus groups and interviews with officials, caseworkers, and members of advisory groups for government agencies and community-based organizations.
In all, ACF anticipates that the study will take 360 hours to complete, work that will be done over the span of two years. The study will be conducted by Mathematica Policy Research in partnership with the Center for the Study of Social Policy and the University of North Carolina School of Social Work.