Journey Through
the River of Data

Data is a river that flows through all aspects of child welfare work, as well as through the community – a key resource but one that can sometimes be challenging to navigate. Developing data capacity can be like traveling from downstream to upstream. You may need someone who is further upstream to give you guidance on how to avoid rough waters or undercurrents that may throw you off course.



This interactive online learning tool is designed to help tribal child welfare professionals consider how to use data to inform service delivery to children and families and help their communities thrive.


Created with busy child welfare staff in mind, these brief documents provide information and issues to consider when developing, managing, and using child welfare data systems.

Improving the welfare of native children by using & managing data

Covering the basics of data, this brief resource includes information on how data can be used to address issues and help tribal child welfare programs thrive. Guiding questions are provided to help programs think through how they want to use and manage data.


planning for your program’s child welfare data system

This two-page resource offers concise guiding questions for programs to consider as they develop or enhance a data system. Data needs, program capacity, and readiness for change are highlighted.


Navigating Rough Waters: Lessons Learned & Challenges to Avoid When Planning a Tribal Child Welfare Data System

When programs journey through the river of data, knowing how to navigate rough waters and overcome challenges can make a tremendous difference. This one-page resource offers suggestions on how to stay on course when planning and implementing a data system. 

keeping data safe while working remotely cover

keeping tribal child welfare DATA safe while working remotely

We know that many tribal child welfare professionals work outside of their offices or in different circumstances. This tip sheet offers quick and helpful suggestions for keeping your information protected, with links to assistance.  

making the most of your data:
information interpretation

recorded webinar

Tribal child welfare programs collect a lot of data for many different reasons. Often these reasons are externally driven, like federal reporting or grant requirements. However, one of the most important uses for data is program improvement and to tell the program’s story of its work with children, families, and the community it serves. To do that, it is important to know how to ask questions of the data and understand the answers given. View this recorded webinar to learn how to make the most of your data.

making excel work
for your community

Sample CPS Intake Spreadsheet

This Excel workbook is intended to be used with the learning series as a way to practice building your Excel skills and to see examples of formulas and drop-down lists in action. This example is based on spreadsheets the Center for Tribes has worked on with several child welfare programs.


Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are mapping programs for capturing, managing, analyzing, and displaying all forms of geographical reference information (e.g., addresses, tribal boundaries, social demographics), including sensitive or secure data. Tribes have  traditionally used GIS for mapping jurisdictional boundaries, environmental resources, and cultural locations. Only in recent years have tribes also started using GIS for mapping health and human services data.

Mapping to Protect Children & Preserve Communities

Developed for tribal leaders and social service agencies, this resource explains the benefits of GIS mapping and ways tribes can use this technology to keep children connected with their community and culture.


Using GIS to Strengthen Practice and Inform Policy in Tribal Child Welfare Agencies (Webinar Recording)

This webinar discussed how geographic information systems (GIS) can help strengthen practice and inform policy in tribal child welfare agencies. Mapping child welfare data can provide meaningful analysis of where to direct resources and build services to meet the needs of families where they are. GIS mapping software manages all types of geographical information (addresses, tribal boundaries, social demographics). GIS and child welfare are a natural fit. GIS mapping allows tribes to see where their children are located, whether on the reservation or states away. Any federally recognized tribe can receive GIS software and training free through the BIA.


Mapping to Protect Children and Preserve Communities (Webinar Recording)

Jhon Goes In Center and Kathryn Kulbiki from the Capacity Building Center for Tribes discuss the importance of using GIS in Indian child welfare in this recorded webinar.


Tribal Talks: GIS Series featuring Jhon Goes In Center

In this series of four short videos, Jhon Goes In Center describes the power of using GIS in Native communities.


Are you interested in enhancing the way you look at and use your child welfare data? Mapping child welfare and geographic data together can help agencies locate potential foster homes, identify community services, and inform planning, service delivery and decision-making efforts. This resource from the Center for Tribes has lots of information and steps to get you started.  


Developing tribal capacity to understand and conduct research and evaluation in tribal communities is an exercise in sovereignty. These resources can provide information to get you started.



Most child welfare professionals are not information technology (IT) experts, and your tribe’s IT department may not be familiar with all the ins and outs of case management systems. This guide will help you ask the right questions and use the answers to choose a data system wisely.

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The Children's Bureau, within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, funds the Child Welfare Capacity Building Center for Tribes.

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Phone: 1-800-871-8702