Data collected by public service agencies can provide useful information on the reach and effectiveness of individual programs. This data, when combined from multiple sources, can provide more detailed portraits of family and community life that to inform policy and improve service delivery. This is referred to as Integrated Data Systems (IDS).
In its latest research brief, the National Research Center on Hispanic Children and Families, launched by Abt Associates, Child Trends, and university partners (University of Maryland-College Park, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and the Institute for Human Development and Social Change at New York University), explores how IDS can increase our knowledge and inform strategies to respond to the service needs of low-income Hispanic children and families. The brief provides a primer on integrated data and a discussion of some of the specific questions that Hispanic-focused researchers might explore using IDS.
IDS could provide a comprehensive, timely, and cost-effective mechanism for examining these critical questions, given that much of the data already has been collected. Yet for IDS to best support service delivery and programming for low-income Hispanic children and families, the information from the individual data systems must include relevant information that reflects the considerable diversity of the Hispanic population.