SAS analytics expert to address federal commission on reducing child fatalities
Can analytics help prevent child abuse and fatalities?
The federal Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities is gathering a diverse group of experts today to discuss ways to reduce the number of child fatalities caused by abuse and neglect. SAS analytics expert Albert Blackmon will present findings from a recent project in Florida that analyzed data on approximately 1 million children to identify factors that indicate a high risk of death.
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, an estimated 1,640 children died from abuse and neglect in 2012 in the US. At today’s event in Tampa, FL, experts from child welfare, law enforcement, public health and technology will present strategies to combat this horrible problem. One such strategy is the use of predictive analytics, a cornerstone of the Florida Department of Children and Families’ (DCF) child welfare improvement efforts.
"I am eager to present to the Commission on our success in using data to inform the practice of child welfare and protect Florida’s most vulnerable," Interim DCF Secretary Mike Carroll said. "This recent study has helped us determine which children are at a greater risk and offers an additional tool for DCF and partners to better assess and provide for the safety of children."
Last year, DCF teamed up with analytics software company SAS and consulting firm North Highland to analyze nearly six years of data on children that had some contact with DCF. The SAS analysis considered factors such as prior removals due to sexual abuse, prior removal due to drug abuse, and physical or mental disabilities. The resulting five-year Child Fatality Trend Analysis is helping investigators better predict the needs of families in crisis. Some of the key findings include:
- Overall, child deaths within the agency are trending downward.
- Children who received prior service from the agency saw their odds of dying reduced by 90 percent.
- Children who experienced prior removal due to physical abuse had increased odds of death by a multiple of 14.
- Children who experienced prior removal due to parental drug or alcohol abuse had increased odds of death by a multiple of 15.
Blackmon, who works in the SAS Advanced Analytics Lab for State and Local Government, believes the analysis can help shift the approach to child welfare from mitigating tragedy to improving outcomes.
“Our research showed the tremendous positive effect of a visit from a caseworker,” said Blackmon. “But child protective services agencies across the country are overburdened. Analytics can help caseworkers identify the most at-risk kids, as well as pinpoint the services that can lead to the most positive outcomes.”
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