CHILD LINK enabled SCDSS and its partners to link the following databases:
Client History and Information Profile System. This database contains administrative and payment information regarding both AFDC/TANF and Food Stamps cases;
Client Information System. This system contains administrative information regarding client eligibility for Medicaid services;
Medicaid Services Payment System
This database actually resides with another state agency, the SC Department of Health and Human Services, and contains Medicaid payment data;
Work Support (or WNAT)
This database contains client data about work support eligibility, participation, and services;
This system contains information about child and adult protective services and foster care services;
Child Protective Services. The CPS system contains investigative information on Child Abuse & Neglect cases;
Foster Care Tracking
This system contains information about foster children and their placements;
State of South Carolina Masterfile
This file contains all services for one calendar year from several health and human service type agencies such as the Department of Juvenile Justice, Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services, and the Department of Health and Environmental Control;
Employment Security Commission (ESC) Wage Match
This file contains quarterly wage information for all South Carolina employers required to report wage data.
All of these files are statistical SAS databases that are individually stripped off of the agencies’ legacy systems and linked statistically. Each file is updated either monthly or quarterly (Medicaid Eligibility, Medicaid Payment System, and the ESC information are updated quarterly) with the exception of the state’s Masterfile. The information in the CHILD LINK warehouse is only for those CHIPS clients who matched to this enormous population file. The statistical warehouse stores historic information on all clients from each of these systems so that SCDSS can measure change. In many ways, the CHIPS system served as the primary "linker" file to which the other files were linked. There are a couple exceptions. Because of the uniqueness and the lack of identifiers in the Child Protective Services, SCDSS relied heavily on the TitleXX number that caseworkers added to the legacy system. Thus a more natural linkage was to link Child Protective Services first to TitleXX. Likewise the Foster Care Tracking was first linked with the TitleXX system. The TitleXX system was then linked to CHIPS. For the other data systems, CHIPS linked directly.
CHILD LINK enabled SC to build software to extract identified data elements, create update programs, and build software to link the files statistically. Most importantly CHILD LINK helped SC to build up expertise in these data systems fostering relationships between program specialists and researchers.
This linked database has enormously increased the capability in South Carolina to examine a variety of issues. For example:
- By including employment information, we can examine employment patterns and the job retention of our clients and changes in their quarterly wages;
- Because this information is also linked to the Medicaid files, we can explore changes in Medicaid utilization after becoming employed. Because all clients are tracked including children, we can further investigate the Medicaid utilization for children after a parent becomes employed;
- By linking to the state’s Masterfile, we can review what other agencies SCDSS clients access. As these clients leave the welfare rolls and the state’s Masterfile builds historic information, we can check if utilization patterns change. For example, as a client leaves welfare, do they access other agencies more to help them through the transition period?
- Because all this information also is linked to the human services systems, additional questions on child welfare can be asked. Do rates of abuse and neglect increase as a client leaves welfare? Other questions regarding the cycle of poverty can also be asked. Do former foster care clients become TANF clients?
- Even more questions can be asked regarding impacts on other agencies. Are children who are abused and/or neglected more likely to end up in the Department of Juvenile Justice system?
- Additionally, CHILD LINK enabled us to geocode or address match our founded child abuse and neglect cases to the Census Block Group. This allowed us to add a further dimension by helping us to locate potential "high-risk" neighborhoods.
As welfare reform continues to evolve and more clients leave the rolls, these questions and many more are important. South Carolina believes it is critical to ensure that there are few (if any) negative consequences to clients, especially children.