In this report, we attempt to address some of the gaps in knowledge that have resulted from the split between child protection and child welfare services by comparing child welfare system data from two states (Illinois and Michigan) and sub-populations within those states. We will focus on the indicators which we can make comparable in the two states. Our long term goals include analyzing each state separately in order to illuminate important issues about child and family experience with the child welfare system that are unique to each state.
Comparability means that the data in each state has similar definitions. Making data comparable is a time-consuming task, requiring deep understanding of each of the jurisdictions which are to be compared. There is variation in how and where states keep certain pieces of information in their data systems about the service events the children experience, and it often takes considerable detective work to determine whether data items are the same across states and often within them.