cator data systems that can be used to support a variety of development activities throughout the community. Partners include groups in the cities of Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Indianapolis, Miami, Milwaukee, Oakland, Philadelphia, Providence, and Washington, DC. In addition to facilitating a variety of peer support activities, the project is developing a National Neighborhood Data System, which will provide easily accessible data at the census tract or zip code level for major metropolitan areas, as well as a series of handbooks and other tools on the use of information in community capacity building.12

SUMMARY

Community programs for youth benefit from ready access to high-quality data that allows them to assess and monitor the well-being of youth in their community, the well-being of youth they directly serve, and the elements of their programs that are intended to benefit those youth. Programs may use social indicator data for needs assessments, service targeting, goals tracking, program accountability, and in support of reflective practice to improve program and policy effectiveness over time. They also benefit from information and training to help them use these data tools wisely and effectively. In this chapter we have reviewed surveys and other measurement instruments, the data generated from these tools, and related technical assistance resources that can be used by youth development programs; we were pleasantly surprised to find a relatively rich set of tools and information.

Every community already has a great deal of data collected through its social programs and educational systems, its vital statistics and health surveillance systems, and the decennial census. Some communities have been more active than others in developing these data resources to guide policy and program development for children and youth. A systematic review of the potential of these data sources to yield useful indicators could provide a guide for communities seeking to maximize the use of their own data resources at a reasonable cost.13

Even when exploited to their full potential, administrative, vital statistics, and related data sources can cover only limited geographic areas

12  

For additional information, visit <http://www.urban.org/nnip>

13  

The Center for Youth Development, through its proposed On the Plus Side initiative, intends to produce such a review.



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