Expanding Data-Driven Advocacy to Improve Child Welfare Policy

Emerging Leader Fellow: Joelle Ruben, 2011-2012

In these challenging fiscal times, policymakers want up-to-date information on how resources are being used to impact child outcomes. However, there is a lack of accessible and comprehensive data analysis that can be used to inform decision-making and public policy. Joelle is working with Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children (PPC) to change this reality. Her fellowship will address several projects in order to provide useful data analysis and advance public policy reforms designed to improve outcomes for Pennsylvania’s children and families.

Joelle's fellowship will partially focus on the implementation of optional youth provisions within the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (Fostering Connections). These provisions reflect a statewide opportunity for Pennsylvania to extend foster care, as well as adoption and guardianship subsidies for youth until age 21 and to permit foster care re-entry. Joelle will extend the reach of a state fiscal impact analysis conducted in collaboration with PPC, Juvenile Law Center, The Finance Project, Department of Public Welfare, Office of Children, Youth and Families and other key stakeholders. Specifically, she will take the analysis’ preliminary findings and translate them into communication tools and an advocacy campaign to build political will for supporting older youth in foster care.

Additionally, Joelle will review and analyze new sources of in-home services data to help PPC more fully present core child welfare system data elements to policymakers, media and stakeholders. In-home services tend to either prevent a child from entering foster care placement or assist with reunification with their birth families. Her efforts will contribute to The Porch Light Project’s State of Child Welfare report, which is issued annually by PPC’s child welfare initiative. Joelle will also analyze county and state expenditure data in order to connect the use of resources with child welfare practices and outcomes.