Data for Decision Making: KIDS COUNT Data Center

Exponent Philanthropy thanks the Annie E. Casey Foundation for partnering to deliver a 3-part “Improving Outcomes for Children & Families” webinar series. This post is based on one part of the series: Data for Decision Making: KIDS COUNT Data Center. View the 90-minute webinar on using data to inform grantmaking and advocacy >>

Did you know there is a free, online resource where you can access hundreds of indicators, download data, and create reports and graphics that support smart decisions about children and families?

It’s called the KIDS COUNT Data Center, a project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation (AECF) since 1990, and it is the premier source for data on child and family well-being in the United States.

The KIDS COUNT Data Center includes more than 4 million searchable data points, according to Laura Speer, AECF associate director for policy reform and advocacy, and can be used to generate maps and graphics to include in your presentations or post to social media.

For example, do you want to know how many fourth-graders are below proficient in reading in your state? The Data Center is searchable by location (e.g., state, county, city, congressional district), topic (e.g., economic well-being, education, health), and characteristic (race and ethnicity, age, family nativity).

In addition to including data from the most trusted national resources, the KIDS COUNT Data Center draws from more than 50 KIDS COUNT state organizations that provide state and local data, as well publications providing insights into trends affecting child and family well-being.

Speer encourages funders to take note of the KIDS COUNT state organizations, who can be valuable partners as you seek data to support your agenda. These trusted organizations know what data are available, are skilled in packaging and promoting it, and have relationships with state agencies who may be able to provide more or different data.

Fran Sykes, president of the Pascale Sykes Foundation, uses the KIDS COUNT data in several ways:

  • To focus the foundation’s efforts on three southern NJ counties showing the greatest needs
  • To survey the scene—For example, she knows that in NJ, 26% of families with children do not have at least one adult with full-time, year-round employment
  • To promote the foundation’s cause, efforts, and families served
  • To empower trustees with facts at their fingertips
  • To share data with grantees, families, fellow funders, and the public

The KIDS COUNT data saves time, says Sykes, because the data can be accessed all in one place (versus sourcing it from various state and federal agencies).

She does remind funders to consider the age of data—the 2016 KIDS COUNT Data Book includes 2014 data as its most recent—and to look under the surface when interpreting data (e.g., 0% child mortality in one NJ county is the result of 0 babies born in that county).

Explore the KIDS COUNT Data Center >>

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