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Brett Brown, Kristin Moore, and Sharon Bzostek describe the Child Trends Databank, an online “one-stop shop” for the latest data and research on indicators of child and youth well-being.

In the last decade, social indicators have become indispensable tools in the world of child, youth, and family policy. Uses range from needs assessment to goals tracking, accountability, self-assessment, and, under some circumstances, evaluation. In response to the increased reliance on social indicators, Child Trends has developed the Databank,¹ an online one-stop resource offering the latest data and research on over 85 indicators of child and youth well-being.

The indicators are offered in a consistent and accessible format designed to meet the needs of diverse audiences, including practitioners, policymakers, researchers, journalists, advocates, students, and the general public. Areas covered include health status and behaviors; social and emotional development; income and work; education; basic demographic characteristics; and the family, peer, and community environments in which children develop. New indicators are being added regularly in each area. In the 2 years since the Databank was launched, its popularity has grown steadily: The site now averages well over 30,000 visitors each month.

Continuous Updates
The Databank features national estimates, which include trend data and, when available, separate estimates across key population subgroups. Data are presented in several formats, including tables, figures, and descriptive text. All indicators are completely updated within a week of the public release of new estimates, assuring users that they can always find the most recent estimates available. Though the site focuses on national data, estimates at the state, local, and international levels are also identified, and links to them provided when available. These estimates are paired with brief descriptions of the indicators' importance, written in plain language and grounded in the best available research. This research is also updated on a regular basis, and citations and links to relevant research articles and reports are also offered, for those who want to dig deeper on particular points.

In addition, Child Trends has recently added a new feature, What Works for Child and Youth Development, to most of the indicators on the Databank What Works is a summary of available research on existing practices intended to affect a given outcome (e.g., teen birth rates, youth violence, and childhood obesity). The new feature consists of easy-to-use interactive tables that link to relevant evaluation research. It draws heavily on recently completed, comprehensive literature reviews produced by Child Trends that examine the research evidence on key factors and programs that may promote positive development among young children and youth. Like the indicators, these reviews will also be updated over time.

Easy Access and Multiple Formats
Information can be viewed online and can also be downloaded and printed as portable document format (PDF) files. Figures are in JPEG image format and can be loaded directly into the Microsoft PowerPoint presentation graphics program and other software for further use.

To help users find what they need quickly, access to the indicators is organized in several ways. One way is by topic area—for example, health, education, and social and emotional development. Indicators are also available by age group, for those interested in data related to early childhood, middle childhood, or adolescence. Third, those who are interested in estimates for particular sociodemographic groups (e.g., poor children, immigrant children, minority children, and children in single-parent families) can quickly identify all indicators on the Databank that offer estimates for those particular groups. Finally, users can use a standard keyword search to find relevant indicators on the site.

A New Data Brief Series
In addition to offering over 85 individual indicators of well-being, the Databank has recently launched a data brief series, called CrossCurrents, which addresses broader topics covering multiple related indicators. The initial brief presents an overview of violence in the lives of children and youth, and includes data on topics ranging from exposure to television violence to rates of child abuse, physical fighting, dating violence, and violent death. Briefs to be released this September will present indicators of early school success and a portrait of well-being in the transition to adulthood.

The Foundation for Child Development recently awarded Child Trends a grant to add to the site new indicators related to the integration of pre-K and early schooling experiences. Child Trends plans to expand the number of indicators offered by the Databank while continuing to update and enhance those already in place.

The Databank can be viewed at Additional information on Child Trends can be found at

¹ From the Child Trends DataBank's inception, funders have included the Foundation for Child Development, the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Brett Brown, Ph.D.
Director, Social Indicators Research
Tel: 202-572-6052

Kristin A. Moore, Ph.D.
Tel: 202-362-5580

Child Trends
4301 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Suite 100
Washington, DC 20008

Sharon Bzostek
Princeton University

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© 2016 Presidents and Fellows of Harvard College
Published by Harvard Family Research Project