A report submitted to the Public Health Agency of Canada
In Canada, the development of health and social services—including child welfare policy and practice—is done at the provincial, territorial, and band level. As a result, child welfare systems vary across jurisdiction. These differences in practice and policy extend to the collection, management, storage, and use of administrative data. Some provinces have centralized databases that are managed at the provincial level to warehouse data extractions from regional agency offices (e.g., British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec), and other provinces leave data collection and management to the mandated child welfare agencies with whom they have data-sharing agreements (e.g., Manitoba). Indigenous child welfare agencies serving children and families on and off reserve are responsible for collecting and storing their data, however Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) centralizes the data for purposes of quality assurance and program development, particularly as it relates to overrepresentation of First Nations children in child welfare. Some Indigenous child and family services also have data-sharing agreements with provinces that incorporate their traditional territories as a part of provincial monitoring and surveillance of child welfare populations and services.
The Child Welfare Administrative Data Knowledge Meeting, held in Montreal on February 11 and 12, 2020, included stakeholders from Canadian and American universities, child welfare agencies, Indigenous health and social service agencies, and provincial and federal government representatives who shared their experiences working with child welfare administrative data. What follows is a summary report on the context in which this collaboration developed, the goals of the meeting, and the information meeting participants shared with the group.
This meeting was supported through Professor Tonino Esposito’s Canada Research Chair in Social Services for Vulnerable Children, Professor Nico Trocmé’s SSHRC partnership grant, and Professor Barbara Fallon’s Canada Research Chair in Child Welfare. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has also generously supported this meeting and we extend our sincere gratitude to our partners at PHAC for their collaboration and support. We also thank the 40 meeting participants who gave their time sharing valuable insights on working with child welfare administrative data.