New Report! Using Data to Enable Better Outcomes for Young People Leaving Care


We’re excited to share this important report co-authored by two important partners: Arisha Khan, Vice President of Youth in Care Canada and Dr. Naomi Nichols, a Professor in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education at McGill University.

This report explores potential use and misuse of administrative data in the child protection sector to advance a rights-based approach that empowers young people and addresses systemic inequities.

Canadian child welfare institutions lack a consistent and cohesive approach for the collection, protection, and use of data about youth in and leaving care. This data deficit means there is insufficient capacity within provincial and territorial child welfare systems to monitor trends and no way to aggregate and compare results across the provinces and territories.

Within child protection agencies, case files are routinely used to record the relevant details about a young person’s personal and familial history, legal decisions about their guardianship, their health and social care records, and personal information. Yet it is not a standard practice for young people to have access to these files nor the information contained within them while they are receiving child welfare service and after they have left care. In fact, case files are most often used in child welfare institutions to demonstrate compliance with ministry directives with respect to provincially mandated standards of care. Still unrealized is the potential for case files to serve as tools to enable shared decision-making, self-advocacy on the part of the youth, adherence to a plan of care, and thus better outcomes for young people.

The brief offers a comprehensive, practical, and policy-oriented view of problems and potential solutions to administrative data management and access in Canada’s child welfare systems. The evidence points to a need as well as opportunities for enabling a rights-based and custodial data approach to be embedded in a national strategy.

Vanessa Parlette