Tips for Using Data Effectively in Child Safety Work

Bina Ali, Ph.D. & Maria Katradis, Ph.D.
people sitting at table with their laptops open

Data-driven approaches are critical to guide child safety efforts. They are useful when you are deciding where to focus resources, the most appropriate program, monitoring progress, and demonstrating to funders and community partners whether your program is making an impact. In the Children’s Safety Network (CSN), we encourage Title V agencies to use data at every stage of their program – needs and capacity assessment, program planning, implementation, and evaluation.

Here are some tips for using data effectively:

  1. Understand community needs and capacity. Use data from various sources to assess your community’s needs, resources, equity issues, and capacity to plan and carry out a program. Data sources can include secondary data that is already available, such as injury data by person type from CDC WISQARS; or primary data that can be collected from community members, such as information about historical and contemporary practices that contribute to health inequity.
  2. Use program goals and objectives to identify what data to capture. Set SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound) objectives to monitor progress and impact of your program. Identify the most relevant and feasible data sources and collection methods to measure each objective.
    • Be flexible in the use of both quantitative (counts, percentages, rates) and qualitative (interviews, focus groups, stories) data to understand the workings of your program.
  3. Work collaboratively with partners. Form a robust team of public health programmers, epidemiologists, evaluators, and community partners. Work together to plan, identify, and collect relevant data; analyze and interpret data; and share the information learned from your program.
    • Use memoranda of understanding and data sharing agreements in inter-agency partnerships to enhance collaborative efforts.
  4. Create and share data visualizations. Use graphical displays of your data to tell the story that is hidden within the numbers, such as these CSN infographics and data maps. Consider your audience and objectives when choosing the type of data visualization (charts, figures, diagrams, and maps).
    • Examples of data visualization tools are Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Power BI, and Tableau.

CSN offers tools and resources to build skills and capacities among Title V agencies, including assistance on data use to understand the problem, identifying risk and protective factors, selecting and adapting evidence-driven program strategies, and spreading those strategies. Visit our resources and technical assistance pages for more information.