Finding Data and Information to Inform Decisions
Data and information come in different forms, depending on the problem at hand.
Reliable data will help you understand and address key issues when making decisions about programs, policies, and practices.Statewide Youth Advisory Boards Make Data-Informed Policy Decisions
Data Resources to Guide Decision-Making
Youth Advisory Councils (YACs) can use available data sources to identify projects and guide decisions. Members can ask an expert to help determine which data to use or make sense of the data.
- Results and findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC’s) Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System.
- Data from CDC’s School Health Profiles.
- School data reported by local schools and districts, including academic achievement; attendance; enrollment; school climate; and self-reported information students, parents, and teachers on their health or experiences.
- Federal research, reports, or publications about an existing issue or possible solutions are available from the National Center for Education Statistics.
- Your state department of education website. You can find your state department of education on the U.S. Department of Education website.
- Reports, findings, briefs, and other materials from nonpolitical advocacy organizations or research institutions.
- Publications and research findings from community-based and national organizations (e.g., GLSEN).
- Various state websites, such as data from Georgia’s Office of Student Achievement and the Illinois Report Card.
- Data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
- Federal resources that list evidence-based programs.
- Data from public health departments (e.g., Community Health Profiles and Reports from the Houston Health Department or Health Data and Reports from the Chicago Department of Public Health).
- Education bill tracking and databases
For the Pennsylvania Youth Advisory Board, data are at the core of its work.1 The Board includes current and former youth from the child welfare system ages 16 to 21 years old. The Board’s goal is to create positive changes in the child welfare system. They raise awareness about issues for youth in the foster program and organize community service events.
Before acting on any new project, the Board uses data to assess the issue and the needs of the community. Next, the Board analyzes the data to inform policies and achieve the desired outcomes for the community. For instance, the Pennsylvania Youth Advisory Board used data when deciding to support the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008. This act seeks to improve outcomes for children in foster care and improve incentives for adoption, among other measures, in Pennsylvania.
1 Center for the Study of Social Policy. (n.d.). Youth advisory board. Pennsylvania Child Welfare Resource Center. https://cssp.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/PA-ChildWelfareResCenter-2-27.pdf