Welfare Reform/Child Well-Being Administrative Data Linking. Implementation Issues


SC is pleased with the implementation process. There are several structural issues that contributed to the success of the project.

  • For CHILD LINK, a Management Team was created which met regularly. Members included key SCDSS researchers and upper management, program specialists in the human services systems, our partners with the Department of Health and Human Services and our partners with the Budget and Control Board’s Office of Research and Statistics (ORS). The management team served several functions such as:
    • Educating team members regarding the capability of a linked database;
    • Providing the primary lead in brainstorming on possible analyses;
    • Reviewing progress reports on the implementation issues;
    • Utilizing the expertise in the management team to check for any biases; and
    • Tracking progress and overcoming any obstacles.
  • Our partnership with the SC Budget and Control Board’s Office of Research and Statistics (ORS) also contributed to the success of the project. ORS functions as a service and research agency to state government. As part of their on-going work with the SCDSS, they had already created a statistical warehouse using the CHIPS system and had gained experience in dealing with those administrative files. In addition, they also had experience in analyzing and linking a number of administrative files to the Medicaid system and the state Masterfile.
  • As members of the Governor’s Cabinet, the SCDSS has a solid relationship with the SC Department of Health and Human Services (SCDHHS). While a confidentiality agreement was necessary to link the CHIP system to the Medicaid system, that agreement was sketched out in a brief meeting with the CHILD LINK lead coordinator, ORS, and SCDHHS. As noted before, SCDHHS was invited to join the CHILD LINK Management Team. Use of the state Masterfile was similarly permitted since the Governor’s Office controls its release. However a confidentiality agreement had to be negotiated with the SC Employment Security Commission. Because of ORS’s position as a service agency, it was agreed that the data should reside there.
  • In the course of the CHILD LINK grant, a number of technical issues arose. One particular issue was the conscious decision to link the files using various combinations of known identifiers as opposed to probabilistic matching which is extensively used in the research world. To check the validity of the matches, multiple random samples were pulled and the matches reviewed. Because of the lack of identifiers especially on the Child Protective Services database and the lack of experience in using the Human Service files, it was agreed that this was the proper course for SC. ORS, however in another project unrelated to CHILD LINK, will be doing a comparison study of the more traditional approach to probabilistic matching. It is expected that this comparison will provide valuable insights.