Systems (CMS) can contribute to the successful development
of children and adolescents. Such systems measure
critical aspects of child and adolescent well being
and the factors that influence their growth. Some
communities have already shown that the development
and maintenance of these systems can make critical
information available to decision makers and community
members so that they can improve the school, family,
and community practices that affect young people.
But there is need for scientific and organizational
leadership that can assure the continued development
of these systems. The Society for Prevention Research
is seeking to promote the research and infrastructure
development needed to make these systems widely
and effectively available (click
here for the full text of project publication).
Features of An Ideal Community Monitoring System
the community with accurate estimates of well being for the entire population
of children and adolescents in the community.
• Identifies core indicators of well being that research shows are important.
The indicators include both measures of youth functioning and measures of the
factors that influence development.
• Generates information for decision makers and community members so that
it can be easily understood and readily used for answering specific questions.
• Provides timely data about trends in well-being and risk and protective
factors that predict youth outcomes.
• Utilizes available data including both survey and archival data.
• Encourages widespread participation of community members in the design,
maintenance, and use of the system.
• Guides priority setting and decision-making regarding choice of programs,
policies, and practices to improve youth well being.
Status of Community Monitoring Systems
monitoring systems are being developed at the county, city, and neighborhood levels.
For example, the Family Services Task Force of Oswego County in New York State
has created a common database on child and adolescent well being, and instituted
countywide comprehensive planning. The Cleveland Area Network for Data Organizing
has incorporated federal, state, and local data into a “data warehouse”
from which neighborhood profiles including geographical mapping can be made (http://povertycenter.cwru.edu).
Connect Kansas (http://www.connectks.org/
) is another example of a local CMS. Using data from the Communities That Care
Survey and numerous other data sources, it provides a profile of the well-being
of young people in each county in Kansas.
for the Development of Community Monitoring Systems
There are numerous
national and state-level resources available that support the development of monitoring
systems. Two organizations promoting the systematic use of data at the national
level to improve youth well being are:
• Kids Count provides an interactive online database that
profiles well being in each state (http://www.aecf.org/kidscount
• The Child Trends DataBank provides continuously updated
national and subgroup data on more than 80 indicators of child and youth well
being (www.childtrends.org ).
There are several
other organizations that provide resources to communities for developing monitoring
systems, including SAMHSA's Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (http://www.preventiondss.org).
Information about these organizations is available on the SPR website (www.preventionresearch.org).
Role of SPR in Community Monitoring Systems
SPR can provide
the scientific consensus and leadership in the development and implementation
of CMS across the country and play a crucial role in advocating action at the
federal, state and local levels. Specifically, SPR members can reach out to decision
makers and community members in their own localities to stress the importance
and the need for CMS. They can also urge ongoing discussion in the media about
the role of prevention science as a mature discipline that can contribute to the
positive development of youth.
role must include
• Funding research and infrastructure development in states to improve monitoring
• Disseminating evidence about what needs to be monitored; and
• Developing policies and technical assistance that encourage the development
and use of CMS in states and communities.
role must include
• Developing a consensus among state agencies and local communities about
the aspects of youth functioning to be monitored; and
• Creating an infrastructure of state and local people who are trained in
monitoring, measurement, and the use of data.
The local role
• Developing a community consensus about what should be monitored;
• Establishing the monitoring system; and
• Embedding the monitoring system in the community’s system of decision
making so that it guides the communities’ programs and policies.
You can contribute
to the development of this important practice by making this information available
to federal, state, and local decision makers. Please urge them to take the actions
indicated above and to visit the SPR website (www.preventionresearch.org)