The study was limited to an evaluation of web-based efforts since a key purpose was to evaluate the accessibility of health data. The study of web sites also discussed some of the difficulties facing a state that donates nonproprietary software to help another state develop its health data system. The donating state often lacked the training and technical resources to assist the recipient state in getting the system operational. At the same time, states often were reluctant to purchase proprietary systems due to the initial and ongoing costs involved.
Many more states and communities are aggregating health data that were not included in this study, but they have not yet fully utilized the web to make aggregate, queriable data publicly available. In the committee’s view there is great value in federal government efforts to partner with states to develop web-based data systems that, at a minimum, make aggregate data available in a form that can be queried for various geographic levels and for different measures over time. For many states, such a system would be a significant advance over current single dataset analyses.
Some states and communities have aggregated children’s data without individual identifiers from datasets in two or more governmental departments or agencies. Over the past decade, several larger cities and counties have developed children’s data systems to assist with policy development, service planning, and program accountability. While states may aggregate data by county or city, communities often need to analyze data for smaller, neighborhood-based units, typically a census tract. This is important for identifying areas with the greatest problems and the highest priority for resources. Some critical children’s data are often more accessible to cities than to states. For example, a police department can contribute data regarding arrests for juveniles by geographic location, age, race, and reason for arrest. Education data can include absentee rates, suspensions, expulsions, number of special education students, number taking medications for chronic conditions, and proficiency scores by school. In contrast, education data in many states are not standardized, computerized, or in a central database, so collecting this information may require contacting each school. If a community has concerns about a particular area or group of the population and wants additional information, it may develop or use existing tools to collect these data.
Many communities have developed efforts to monitor and track the health and well-being of children in their communities and develop strategic priorities. Los Angeles County has one of the more comprehensive children’s data systems and, through the Los Angeles Planning Council, produces a Children’s ScoreCard every 2 years with data by services planning area. This data system contains aggregated, geographically coded data on children from health, education, social services, juvenile justice, and law enforcement agencies at the county, city, and state levels. However, Los Angeles goes beyond integrating the existing administrative