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Sharing and Accessing Administrative Data: Promising Practices and Lessons Learned from the Child Maltreatment Incidence Data Linkages Project

Varley, Beth, Wuslin, Claire Smither, Mathematica. United States. Administration for Children and Families. Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation – 2022

This federally funded brief explains accurate and ongoing surveillance of the incidence of child maltreatment and related risk and protective factors can help inform policy and programs, as well as shape prevention and intervention efforts. It notes one approach to capturing this information is by linking local, State, or federal administrative records, such as those from child welfare, health, social services, education, public safety, and other agencies. The brief then explains the Child Maltreatment Data Linkages (CMI Data Linkages) project identified five research groups (sites) with experience using linked administrative data to examine child maltreatment incidence and related risk and protective factors. The project supported these sites to enhance their approaches to administrative data linkage through acquiring of new data sources, using new methods, or replicating existing methods. This brief highlights promising practices for sharing and accessing data based on the five sites’ experiences. Lessons learned are discussed related to four key activities essential to sharing and accessing data: developing agreements for data sharing and use; protecting the data’s security, confidentiality, and privacy; securing institutional review board (IRB) and other approvals; and accessing the data. The brief concludes sites benefits from existing infrastructure and relationships, which took time and effort to establish and maintain, the sites needed to adapt to changes in circumstances and address unforeseen challenges that affected their project plans, and overall, the CMI Data Linkages sites implemented promising practices for sharing and accessing data that enabled them to address high-priority questions about child maltreatment incidence and related risk and projective factors. (Author abstract modified)

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