Merriam-Webster defines big data as “an accumulation of data that is too large and complex for processing by traditional database management tools” and chances are, you have heard a lot of chatter about the term. Industries everywhere are gathering, analyzing, and publicizing their data. Why? Because nothing tells a better or more accurate story than data itself. Necco builds families in many ways, and we prove it using big data.
The Fast Track to Permanency
Data analysis in the Child Welfare industry is no different. The industry itself is experiencing a shift from not only finding a safe and loving environment for children, but also to how quickly a those children can achieve permanency. Child welfare data can tell us a story about how many days it took a child to find a permanent living arrangement (a family). Moreover, it can tell us which companies are helping children find permanency the fastest. Why is this important? The longer a child lingers in a non-permanent living arrangement (without a family), the higher the child’s risk of placement disruption. Consequently, permanency is critical as it affects the amount of money spent to keep a child in out of home care.
What is Permanency?
Permanency for youth means a legal, permanent living arrangement. This could be through adoption, reunification, or transition to independent living for youth aging out of foster care. When a youth achieves permanency, he or she has a commitment from the caregiver that the child can grow in a safe environment, experiencing love, stability, and having their emotional, educational, and physical health needs met. They have found a family.
Necco has been collecting and analyzing its data for over 10 years. In 2012, we contracted with Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago to have that data independently verified. Necco wanted to prove that the numbers we reported were not only accurate, but honest. In essence, Necco is creating transparency in the Child Welfare industry. The analysis of that data told us a great deal about how quickly Necco’s foster children achieve permanency. The federal Child and Family Services Review national standard is that 40.5% of children entering foster care will achieve permanency within 12 months. We discovered that Necco, as a whole, is surpassing that national average with 46% of our foster children achieving permanency within 12 months.
Better at Learning and Growing
So, we discovered that we are surpassing the national average for permanency by 6%. Good for us! Goal achieved? Our work here is done? Time to celebrate? Not even close. What our data analysis teaches us is not that we are the best at what we do, but that we need to get better at learning from and growing with our data. We owe it to the nearly 250,000 children entering the foster care system yearly.
The Future of Necco’s Big Data
By 2020, Necco’s vision is to be the most trusted brand in Child Welfare. With the help of data visualization software like Tableau, Necco is making decisions and strategic business moves that help us build stronger families. So, bring it, Big Data. We’re ready to see what you tell us next.