Advancing States' Child Indicator Initiatives: Promotional Indicators Forum . Next Steps


David Diehl of FSA and Mairéad Reidy of Chapin Hall facilitated this session. Reidy sketched the meeting's development by the four states and expressed her pleasure at being able to work with them, FSA, and ASPE. She then asked each state to respond to a few questions:

  • Where do you go from here?
  • What will you draw on from this session and where else will you go to get help in moving forward?
  • What indicators and domains discussed during this session might you add to your ongoing development of indicators?

State responses follow.


Janel Harris of the Minnesota Department of Health indicated that she expects Minnesota to be an important presence at April's FSA meeting in Chicago and hopes to continue at that meeting the kind of dialogue undertaken at this meeting. Minnesota also looks forward to continuing that state's work with Carol Trivette and Carl Dunst of the Orelena Hawks Puckett Institute. In its continuing work, Minnesota will also draw on its own resources and on FSA and Chapin Hall.

Keeping in Touch

She also said that she thought the session earlier that morning was a great exercise and that she would like to get the states together again, depending on their feelings, to see about collecting some of these data. Diehl added that Family Support America has been convening monthly conference calls among the promotional indicators projects and invited other states to sign up for these calls.

Kids Gateway

Minnesota is about to put up its Kids Gateway on the web. The site will have data on children's circumstances and information on how to interpret those data. Harris promised that she would notify interested parties when the site is functional by using the child indicators list server.

Harris concluded by saying that she would like to work through any channels in order to get the news about promotional indicators to the public.


Rebekah Hudgins of Georgia said that their next step would take place on the following Monday when the she will discuss the St. Paul meetings at the state's policy development working group. Hudgins will also attend the FSA April meetings.

As Georgia moves ahead, it will draw on the perspectives a broad section of interests, including state agencies and Georgia's universities. She suggested that Georgia would build a chat capacity into a state web site in order to encourage dialogue about indicators and to spread the word on this work.

New York

Toni Lang of the New York Council on Children and Families said that their indicators project is developing a web-based information clearinghouse. They have used traditional indicators to develop the site presentation and are now preparing to include promotional indicators.

Lang said that they will share what they have learned with other asset-building projects in New York. She expects that the state indicator project will draw on this meeting, which she called "extremely helpful" and on indicators being collected by the United Way, as their work proceeds.

New York is identifying and planning to incorporate promotional indicators into its fielding of the YRBS. For example, New York intends to include questions to help assess students' access to supportive adults.

West Virginia

Steve Heasley of the Governor's Cabinet on Children and Families said that he was eager to get back to work. He expects that West Virginia will continue to focus on putting together and trying to publish the dataset on child well being. They are going to proceed with community-level work on indicators and are at work on a model project in two communities. They are also trying to make their web site on community indicators more family and community friendly.

Regarding this meeting, Heasley said that he expected to work with the participating states to reach consensus on the indicators and domains discussed earlier that morning. He called for an expansion of the FSA-moderated conference calls on promotional indicators.

Heasley would like to talk to federal representatives, and was disappointed by the lack of time to do so at this meeting, on the incorporation of asset-based approaches into federal policy. He hopes for opportunities for more talk. Heasley said that a deficit-focused approach has been damaging in West Virginia.


Margaret Gressens spoke for Alaska. Alaska's continuing efforts will include

  • Institutionalizing child data project
  • Conducting an Anchorage child health survey
  • Identifying a tool to measure wellness
  • Exploring the linkages between promotional and traditional indicators
  • Having conversations with federal agencies

She also noted that she would like to be part of the cross-state work on indicators and praised the ASPE list-serve.


Oshi Ruelas of the California Department of Social Services said that the meetings had:

  • Informed their current work on developing domains (community, basic needs, opportunity and diversity, education, and health)
  • Helped fill in indicator gaps

Ongoing work will include:

  • Looking at cultural and social justice issues
  • Comparing the frameworks in use by other states with ongoing work in California

They will explore

  • Head Start measures and measures used by other youth programs
  • Program performance measure work
  • Linkages between promotional and deficit indicators


Carolyn Harrington of Florida State University said that the state has legislatively mandated performance measures in all budgets. Last year, Florida worked to align indicators with budgets. She noted that promotional indicators are hard to sell to the Florida legislature, but stressed the need to include promotional indicators. She also said that the ASPE list-serve is "great."


Michael Lahti of the University of Southern Maine said that Maine's progress on indicators development is in part influenced by the state's partnership with Kids Count. He noted that Maine's Children's Cabinet was to meet on February 28 to look over a draft indicators list. In addition, Maine has involved magnet school students in collecting data on youth groups and in developing web products.

Lahti noted that this meeting provided their first experience working with FSA.

Maine will be looking at the family and community target area and Lahti will be writing a resource paper on moving toward the use of promotional indicators. Maine has been looking at the experiences of Florida because of the way Florida is linking indicators to strategic planning.


Rita Penza of the Utah Department of Health, said that she was pleased to see that the state already has a number of promotional indicators in such areas as

  • Healthy weight
  • Nutrition and exercise
  • Parent input
  • School readiness

She said that Utah's next step would be to shift from deficit-based indicators to asset-based indicators in the community domain. They will also work to package indicators for a policy audience. Utah might also work toward expanding the YRBS. One step might include oversampling particular populations.


David Murphey said that Vermont's next steps will include expanding their survey of assets and looking for ways to incorporate data into planning for actions. Vermont will be staging 12 regional youth summits to investigate the needs of Vermont's young people. These examinations will include the perspectives of young people. Vermont will also continue to work adapting the technical language of data analysis prepared for academic audiences so that it is more accessible to other audiences, including the media. Murphey also said that Vermont is less concerned with developing new domains, as a path to comprehensiveness, than it is in getting started.

Family Support America

Gail Koser of Family Support America said that she would schedule sessions at which states can discuss where they might want to go from here. David Diehl proposed brainstorming to help FSA plan a session on promotional indicators to be held at the April FSA meetings in Chicago. Suggestions included looking at indicators frameworks and data availability. Koser asked if people would want to do more on indicators and if they thought their frameworks were strong enough. Another participant asked how states might sell promotional indicators systemically to help foster a paradigm shift.

Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation

Martha Moorehouse said that states thinking about how to sell the idea of promotional indicators need to think about organizing that effort around different tasks. Trying to change which data are collected in order to produce federal statistics is very hard. Program performance measures, in contrast, do relate to indicator work. Head Start, a program that arose out of deficit models and from empowerment models, was asked to demonstrate what it was accomplishing. Head Start has worked to document its accomplishments in positive ways. First, they began to use measures from the National Household Survey and then developed the Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES). The federal government is at work on a randomized experiment to see what Head Start does for children. All of this demonstrates one way in which the federal government is involved in taking a promotional approach.

Mairéad Reidy thanked everyone who attended and worked on the conference, singling out for particular recognition Beth Haney and Janel Harris.


This summary was produced by the Chapin Hall Center for Children from notes taken by Nilofer Ahsan, David Diehl, Jeff Hackett, Beth Haney, Steve Heasley, Monica Herk, Holly Miller, and Lee Schutz and written materials from Casey Hannan, Martha Moorehouse, Mairéad Reidy, Carol Trivette, and FSA.