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Grants Awarded to Advance States' Child Indicators Initiatives

Publication Date
Sep 11, 2002




[For a complete overview, see the Advancing States' Child Indicators Initiatives]

In September 1998, initial grants of approximately $50,000 were awarded to thirteen states: Alaska, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont and West Virginia. States may receive continuation funding for a second year. States were selected based on their readiness to make advancements and have a range of experience in this area. Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago organized technical assistance opportunities for states to work with one another, research and policy experts, and federal staff. Assistance was provided on issues in conceptualizing and measuring child indicators and institutionalizing the use of indicators in policy processes.

Below are brief descriptions of the projects based on the activities each state proposed in its application for funding. These descriptions. Requests for additional state information should be directed to the state's project contact identified in the descriptions. Requests about ASPE's efforts to promote the development and use of indicators at the federal and state levels can be sent via email to childind @

Preliminary Descriptions of the Projects


The purpose of Alaska's project is to establish health and well-being indicators for children ages 0-8 in order to monitor the impacts of welfare reform and other policy changes in Alaska. The project has

  1. Opted to link with other databases rather than established a new database to allow for the collection, analysis, monitoring and sharing of indicator data;
  2. Is developing a framework for involving communities in the development of their own indicators and in the collection and use of indicator data;
  3. Is establishing a marketing strategy to inform the public of indicator results, and
  4. Is developing ways to integrate the use of indicator data in policy making at the state and local levels.

The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development, Division of Early Development, lead the project in partnership with the Children's Cabinet, an executive-level interagency council comprised of the directors of five state agencies (Departments of Education & Early Development, Health and Social Services, Law, Public Safety and Corrections), the Lieutenant Governor, and the Governor's Budget director.

For further information:

Yvonne Chase, Deputy Commissioner Alaska Department of Education & Early Development 333 West 4th Avenue, Suite 320 Anchorage, AK 99501-234 (907) 269-4607 (907) 269-4635 (fax) E-mail:

Relevant website:


During the past few years, California has undertaken new health, human services, youth justice and education initiatives to improve the health and well-being of children, youth and families. The state also initiated a major welfare reform effort. It is imperative that policymakers be able to understand the impact of these changes on individuals and communities. As a result, a number of efforts started across the state to identify and track outcomes and indicators of child, youth and family well-being. At the state level, most effort has focused on developing program-specific outcome indicators. Many counties, which have authority to provide for the health and welfare of people within their borders, and some communities have developed more broad-based outcome indicators to evaluate the efficacy of current service delivery strategies and determine the need for alternative approaches. Each of these efforts demonstrates a new commitment towards measuring and using outcomes to inform policy-making; however, the lack of coordination and consistency across the efforts and a lack of data at the neighborhood level are factors that detract from their overall effectiveness.

The California Child and Youth Indicators Initiative will add value to the work already accomplished by increasing the consistency and improving the usefulness of child and youth well-being indicators at the state, county and community level. The initiative is conducted by a state team which includes leadership from the California Health and Human Services Agency (CHHS) and participation from those state departments within CHHS responsible for delivering health and human services to children and families as well as the Governor's Office, the Office of the Secretary of Education, the California Department of Education (CDE) and the UC San Francisco School of Medicine Family and Health Outcomes Project. Project coordination is provided by i.e. communications.

The initiative is conducted in two phases. In the first phase, the state team will review outcomes and indicators currently in use throughout the state and identify available data sources in order to develop a draft set of outcomes and indicators of child, youth and family well-being. In the second phase, this set of outcomes and indicators will be shared broadly for public review in California in order to develop a final set of outcomes and indicators. The goal is to have a set of indicators which will be tracked and reported on an on-going basis and used at the state, county and community level to inform policymaking and the delivery of services to children, youth, and families.

For further information:

Earl Johnson or Jody McCoy California Health and Human Services Agency 1600 Ninth Street, Room 460 Sacramento, CA 95814 (916) 654-3454 (916) 654-3343 E-mail: E-mail:


This project is led by the Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth and their Families in partnership with the Department of Education, the Department of Health and Social Services, Delaware KIDS COUNT, the University of Delaware, and the Family Services Cabinet Council (FSCC), an interagency council chaired by the Governor. The project will build upon current efforts by the state to develop and publish a series of benchmark indicators called FAMILIES COUNT. In the first year, the project reviewed existing indicators, policy goals, strategic plans, and performance measures across the partner agencies for consistency with the framework used for strategic planning by the State and for identifying agency performance measures that were shared and how they were linked to the indicators. Based on this information, the project conducted a seminar for policymakers on managing for results to demonstrate how strategic planning and performance measurement could be improved and provide better information for decision-making. This seminar has led in year two to the partner agencies engaging with the University to provide more detailed training for agency managers and planners on strategic planning, performance measurement, and evaluation linked to the indicators. Also in the first year, the project developed a plan for engaging the public in a dialogue to create awareness of the indicators, identify additional indicators of interest, and suggest ways to improve the well-being of children in communities. During the second year, a package including a video and facilitator/action guides are being prepared for launching this initiative. Decision-making authority rests with the FSCC, which a steering committee comprised of representatives of the partners, will be responsible for technical data work. Project coordination is provided by the University of Delaware.

For further information:

Gwendoline B. Angalet Special Assistant Delaware Department of Services for Children , Youth & Their Families 1825 Faulkland Road Wilmington, DE 19805 (302) 633-2505 (phone) (302) 633-2735 (fax) E-mail:


Florida's project, led by the Florida Department of Children & Families and Florida State University, will synthesize information from a variety of sources so that policymakers, to the greatest extent possible, can get a clear and complete picture of the impacts of welfare reform on children in Florida. It will build upon work already completed or underway, ranging from experimental research studies and local monitoring projects to performance measures and statewide indicators. As appropriate, national research findings also will be incorporated.

During the first year, a statewide task force of 40 representatives from state government, business, non-profit organizations, universities and seven major counties was formed to provide guidance and direction for this project. This diverse group identified (1) major policy questions related to children and welfare reform in four key areas: childcare, healthcare, housing and education, (2) potential data sources for answering these questions, (3) key potential audiences for this information and (4) ways of communicating and promoting use of this information in the policymaking process. Also, prepared was an inventory of state, local and national research projects (completed, planned or underway) that are related to children and welfare reform in Florida.

The primary purpose of year two is to summarize and synthesize findings of completed research studies in three major policy areas and, with the assistance of the statewide task force, discuss interpretation of results and their policy implications. Using available indicator data from the National Survey of America's Families and other sources, children in welfare families will be compared with low-income children and children in general. The research inventory for this project will continue to be updated and merged with a broader research inventory subsequently initiated by the State WAGES Board, which oversees welfare reform implementation in Florida. In addition, a concise summary of welfare reform policy, as related to children in Florida, will be prepared to help clarify the relationship of research findings to existing policy at the federal and state level. To enhance future benefit of this project to Florida and other states, final products also will include a description of lessons learned and a plan for institutionalizing major project components beyond the end of the grant period.

For further information:

F. Patricia Hall Program Administrator Office of Economic Self-Sufficiency Florida Department of Children & Families 1317 Winewood Boulevard Building 3, Room 408E Tallahassee, FL 32399-9700 850-921-5574 (phone) 850-922-5581 (fax) Email:
Christine Johnson FSU Project Coordinator 801 E. Georgia Street Tallahassee, FL 32308 850-222-7730 (phone and fax) Email:


This project is a partnership between the Georgia Department of Human Resources, Division of Public Health and the Georgia Policy Council for Children and Families. The Georgia Policy Council is the entity that developed and now tracks Georgia's 26 benchmarks for children and families. Senior staff members from the Georgia Departments of Human Resources, Community Health, Juvenile Justice, and Education; the Office of School Readiness and the Governor's Office of Planning and Budget as well as community, business and elected leaders sit on the Council.

The project has four primary parts:

  1. Development of an Expanded Indicator Website Data for the 26 Georgia Policy Council benchmarks have already been available on the Internet for a number of years ( This piece of the project will expand that work to create a site with links to all the indicator databases related to children and family well-being in Georgia that are available on the web, along the lines of the Minnesota Initiative for Kids website. This work will facilitate state and local decision-makers' use of "secondary" indicator data that expand on the original 26 benchmarks.
  2. Review, Update, and Revision of Existing Indicators Georgia's 26 Policy Council benchmarks have now been in existence for five years and many are in need of updating and maintenance. For example, the Georgia Kindergarten Assessment Program [GKAP], which is the basis of one of the school readiness indicators, has been replaced by the GKAP-R (for "revised"), whose scores cannot be directly compared to the original GKAP scores. Benchmark descriptions, definitions, and supporting material will be updated to reflect these changes.

    In addition to updating existing indicators, there is the larger issue of reviewing the entire set of 26 indicators to see where gaps exist and where recent research suggests new indicators. In particular, the project is working on developing new child care indicators based on the December 1999 conference in Providence, Rhode Island.

  3. Training Needs around Data Usage The project will pull together a variety of training needs assessments that have been done in Georgia over the last two years to determine what next steps may be appropriate in addressing needs for training in data usage.
  4. Continuation of Work on Promotional Indicator Development Georgia's project will continue the work on promotional indicator development begun at the Minnesota promotional indicator conference in February 2000. The Positive Developmental Indicator Project, which collaborates with Georgia's Child Indicator Project, will be conducting focus groups during the summer of 2000 to gauge community support for various proposed promotional indicators. In addition, plans are underway to have the four states that sponsored the Minnesota conference (Georgia, Minnesota, West Virginia, and New York) meet with Dr. Asher Ben-Arieh in Chicago in July to discuss field-testing some of the International Project's proposed promotional indicators.

For further information:

Monica Herk Project Coordinator C/o Policy, Planning & Evaluation Section Family Health Branch, Division of Public Health Georgia Department of Human Resources 2 Peachtree Street NW Atlanta, GA 30303 (770) 454-8182 E-mail:

Relevant web sites: Georgia Policy Council/Family Connection Georgia Dept. of Human Resources, Div. of Public Health


Recent state legislation in Hawaii endorsed the development of a result-based accountability system using benchmarks and indicators to track child outcomes and to coordinate efforts across public and private agencies that serve children and families. On this basis, the Hawaii Department of Health is leading a partnership in pursuit of three goals: (1) to identify a common set of indicators on the health and early childhood education and care of children from birth to five years of age, with special focus on those who receive or have recently left welfare or are homeless; (2) to establish a data collection and reporting system on the indicators that has long-term sustainability; and (3) to develop a, mechanism for affecting social policy for young children through the use of indicator data. The partnership includes the Department of Human Services, Department of Education, Good Beginnings Alliance, Hawaii KIDS COUNT, and the University of Hawaii Center on the Family. In addition, the Governor's Policy Advisor on Children and Families will play a key role. Each of the partners is represented on the Partners Council and will contribute staff to the Council's four work teams which focus on community outreach, data collection and systems, media relations, and policy development and analysis.

For further information:

Loretta J. Fuddy, A.C.S.W., M.P.H. Chief, Family Health Services Division Hawaii Department of Health P.O. Box 3378 Honolulu, Hawaii 96801 Phone: (808) 586-4121 Fax: (808) 586-9303 Email:


Child Indicators in Policymaking Partnership (CIPP)

Although Maine collects various data to profile the status of children within Departments and at the county level, a common set of indicators for use in planning at the state level has not yet been developed. This project proposes to: (1) establish a common vision for children's health and well-being; (2) produce a set of indicators, including promotional indicators, in key areas across systems at the state level; (3) forge vertical and horizontal links among policy makers and program staff to promote the use of indicators in policy making; and (4) present indicator data in a user-friendly format. Maine anticipates that the set of indicators developed will provide a framework for tracking the effects of welfare reform. While the Maine Department of Human Services will serve as the lead state agency, the initiative is in full partnership with Maine's KIDS COUNT Data Book Project. The Governor's Children's Cabinet, an executive-level interagency council, provides leadership to the Partnership. Cabinet membership includes the Commissioners of five state agencies: the Department's of Human Services, Education, Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services, and the Department of Public Safety and Corrections. Each of these agencies will contribute the following representatives to this project: Associate Commissioners, who will serve on the Steering Committee, and data and program staff, who will serve on a Coordinating Committee and two working subcommittees. Other staff support is provided through the Edmund S. Muskie School of Public Service, the Institute for Public Sector Innovation at the University of Southern Maine.

For further information:

Michel Lahti University of Southern Maine Edmund S. Muskie School of Public Service 295 Water Street Augusta, ME 04330 (207) 626-5274 (phone) (207) 626-5210 (fax) E-mail:


Maryland is developing a results-based accountability system for children and family services in which strategic planning, management, and budgeting are tied to results. At the state level, the first set of common child and family results and indicators which describe the results have been developed. At the local level, local management boards were created throughout the state to manage the delivery of children and family services and to set and achieve performance goals based on results.

This project is advancing their efforts in the following ways: (1) collecting and posting information about Maryland's results and indicators on the internet ( and in an annual report, refining the methodology for collecting and organizing the indicators data (2) refining the state's strategic plan for children and family services; and (3) providing technical assistance to local management boards as they develop their own service delivery goals and plans. To further this last objective, the project hosted a conference focusing on effective practices and is committed to providing the tools and technical assistance to local jurisdictions needed to support results-based service delivery.

The project is led by the Subcabinet for Children, Youth, and Families, an executive interagency council charged with monitoring the local management boards, and the Maryland Partnership for Children, Youth, and Families, a public/private and state/local commission which includes representation from the United Way of Central Maryland, the Association of Local Management Board Directors, local business and child advocates. Maryland's KIDS COUNT Partnership provides technical assistance.

For further information:

David Ayer, MSW Director of Research, Evaluation and MIS Governor's Office for Children, Youth and Families 301 West Preston Street 15th Floor Baltimore, MD 21201 (410) 767-6214 (phone) (410) 333-5248 (fax) E-mail:


This project is led by the Minnesota Department of Health, in partnership with the Department of Children, Families and Learning, Department of Human Services, Minnesota Planning, the Children's Defense Fund of Minnesota, and University of Minnesota researchers. The project:

  1. Created a set of child health and well-being indicators based upon the collective experience of the partner agencies;
  2. Identified and sought solutions to barriers that limit the agencies' capacity to share data;
  3. Developed the Minnesota KIDS Gateway, a web-based entrance point into the child health and well-being indicators that are collected and reported by the partner agencies;
  4. Initiated online training on how to use the child indicators in policymaking and tracking the effects of welfare reform; and
  5. Advanced efforts to include promotional, or asset-based, indicators among more traditional, deficit-based indicators.

For further information:

Janel Harris Minnesota Department of Health Division of Family Health/MCH 85 E. 7th Place, Suite 400 P.O. Box 64882 St. Paul, MN 55164-0882 (651) 281-9940 (phone) (651) 215-8953 (fax) E-mail:

Relevant web site:

New York

Since New York has developed an interagency set of goals, objectives and outcome measures which cut across the areas of health, education, and human services systems, the focus of this project is to increase access to and promote the use of children's indicators. This will be accomplished through the development of a publicly accessible, web-based clearinghouse that will enable users to gather and manipulate county-level data according to their own needs. New York considers the analysis of county-level data as critical to monitoring the effects of welfare reform. The project is led by the New York State Council on Children and Families, an interagency group comprised of 13 state agency commissioners or directors whose agencies operate programs or administer locally-operated programs for children and families. The partnership includes the state agencies on the Council, the Center for Technology in Government at the University of Albany/State University of New York, the New York State College of Human Ecology at Cornell University, and the New York State Office for Technology. The Center for Technology in Government will design the web site; the College of Human Ecology will facilitate advisory committees of potential users to identify and prioritize indicator use issues and data needs. An Executive Level Guidance Team, composed of senior level staff from the Council's member agencies, will be the structure through which agencies participate in the development of the web site and contribute data.

For further information:

Deborah Benson, Director, Policy Bureau NYS Council on Children and Families 5 ESP; Suite 2810 Albany, NY 12223-1553 (518) 474-6294 (phone) (518) 473-2570 (fax) E-mail:

Relevant web site:

Rhode Island

Rhode Island has developed an initial set of child indicators in the areas of health, education, economic well being and safety. As a result, this project is intended to more explicitly link indicators with policy goals. The project has several aims: (1) to define a core group of indicators that can be used to track the impact of welfare reform, health care reform, child care expansion, and education reform; (2) to develop new indicators to measure the well-being and school readiness of young children, from birth through age 10; (3) to examine the ability of using state agency administrative data, state surveys and state supplements of national surveys as data sources for producing indicators; and (4) to institutionalize the use of indicators in policy work. The partnership consists of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Rhode Island KIDS COUNT, and the Rhode Island Children's Cabinet, an interagency council which includes the Governor's Office, the Department of Human Services, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Department of Health, and Department of Children, Youth and Families. Senior policy and data staff from the Cabinet agencies comprise the Interagency Child Indicators Team, which will has primary responsibility for completion of project tasks. Project management is being provided by Rhode Island KIDS COUNT.

For further information:

Catherine Walsh Rhode Island Kids Count One Union Station Providence, RI 02903 (401) 351-9400 (phone) (401) 351-1758 (fax) E-mail:

Relevant web site:


This project, housed in the Utah Department of Health, and involving five state agencies serving children, proposes to:

  1. Review, revise and standardize indicators of child well-being in Utah;
  2. Identify and develop new data sources for the indicators;
  3. Develop systems for analysis of the data at the state, health district, county and community levels;
  4. Develop a system for the meaningful reporting of the indicators; and
  5. Develop systems that provide broad access to the indicators and institutionalize their use for policy purposes.

Utah is specifically interested in improving and promoting small area analysis strategies for indicators that support systems change initiatives in highly-impacted neighborhoods in populous urban counties. The partnership builds on five years of collaborative work between Utah Children, a community-based organization which publishes KIDS COUNT indicators, and member agencies of Families, Agencies and Community Together (FACT), an interagency effort involving state agencies, private and community organizations, and parents in interdisciplinary teams to coordinate children's and families' services. The FACT Subcommittee on Data and Information Systems will provide the implementation structure for agencies, such as the Departments of Health, Human Services, Workforce Services, Education and the Administrative Office of the Courts, to participate in this project.

For further information:

Rita Penza Utah Child Indicators Project Coordinator Utah Department of Health, Center for Health Data, Office of Public Health Assessment 288 North 1460 West, P.O. 142101 Salt Lake City, UT 84114-2101 (801) 538-6676 (phone) (801) 536-0947 (fax) E-mail:


This project is led by the Vermont Agency for Human Services in partnership with the Department of Education, the University of Vermont, and the State Team for Children, Families and Individuals, an executive collaborative council comprised of state agency and community representatives. Since Vermont has several years of experience in publishing child indicators at the state and local levels, this project focuses on making investments in a few specific areas. First, the project will develop and pilot-test a new measure of school readiness and increase the use of indicators of developmental assets of youth. Second, it will develop a web-based mapping application to allow users to convey information for certain human services and education indicators in ways that are not currently available. Third, it will extend the development of a data hotel for individual-level data intended to facilitate research and program evaluation on issues related to welfare reform and children's well-being. It will promote case studies of selected communities and their role in affecting local performance on indicators. Finally, it plans to sponsor a regional forum to promote exchange of knowledge around indicators among New England states.

For further information:

David Murphey Senior Policy Analyst Vermont Agency of Human Services Planning Division 103 S. Main Street Waterbury, VT 05671 (802) 241-2238 (phone) (802) 241-4461 (fax) E-mail:

Relevant web sites:, Vermont Agency of Human Services

West Virginia

Under the leadership of the Governor's Cabinet on Children and Families, an executive level interagency council, West Virginia developed a set of six overarching outcome statements and identified a list of child and family indicators in 1998. The ASPE sponsored project has built on these efforts by allowing for the compiling of  initial baseline information and the development of a data base of the indicator data at the county level. Through the project, a web site is being developed and indicator data is being made available to state and local policy makers, the business community and the public. Although the Governor's Cabinet functions as the lead state agency, responsibility for completion of major project tasks lies with the West Virginia Prevention Resource Center, an independent organization located within Marshall University Graduate School and created from a partnership between the Governor's Cabinet, the Department of Health and Human Resources, Department of Military Affairs & Public Safety, Department of Education, and the Department of Education & the Arts.

Project tasks include:

  1. Collection and analysis of data from the relevant agencies;
  2. Development of promotional (positive) indicators to supplement statewide administrative data;
  3. Working with legislators and local communities to increase awareness and use of indicator data in state and local policy making;
  4. Design of a web site for publication of indicator data;
  5. Support of two local community indicators projects which will serve as prototypes for other communities within the state, and
  6. Preparation of annual and other periodic indicator reports.

The project also provides training and support to local community organizations so that they might better use indicator data in priority setting. Future directions for the project include a research agenda to examine changes in child well being, family stability, and the status of specific target groups such as welfare recipients and families with children enrolled in CHIP.

For further information:

Steven Heasley Consultant to the Cabinet West Virginia Governor's Cabinet on Children & Families Building 5, Room 218 Capitol Complex Charleston, WV 25305 (304) 558-0600 (phone) (304) 558-0596 (fax) E-mail: