National conference on child maltreatment to advance innovation through data

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State isn’t just a leader on childhood well-being through its Child Maltreatment Solutions Network — but is pushing others to be leaders, too.

“One of our charges is to bring together experts related to child maltreatment to think more broadly about how to address key issues facing children today,” said Christian Connell, Penn State professor of human development and family studies and associate director of the Solutions Network. “Through our annual conference, Penn State is playing a key role in engaging researchers, practitioners and policymakers to inform best practices and policies at the county, state and national level.”

The network's seventh annual conference focuses on “Strengthening Child Safety and Wellbeing through Integrated Data Solutions,” and will feature nationally and internationally recognized experts in the field of child maltreatment. To be held on Sept. 27 and 28 at the Nittany Lion Inn on the University Park campus, the conference is open to researchers, policymakers, child welfare professionals and members of the public interested in learning about the future of data-driven innovations in improving children’s lives. Interested attendees are asked to register online.

This year’s theme of “integrated data solutions” will explore how researchers, child welfare professionals and public policymakers can best utilize administrative data systems — such as the data gathered by child service caseworkers, healthcare providers and other public systems — to better understand the needs of at-risk children, and craft laws and policies that reflect the reality of child maltreatment in America.

“We can learn a lot about the needs of children and families by pulling together information from the child welfare system and health care settings — including physical and mental health, the educational sector, and other types of child serving systems,” Connell said. “No one system gathers all this information, but more and more we have the computing power and analytic capacity to bring all this information together to better understand the complex needs of families and children.”

The conference will feature sessions from leading experts in the field of child maltreatment and welfare, including Penn State Professor and Solutions Network Director Jennie Noll; University of Southern California Professor Emily Putnam-Hornstein; University of Washington Professor Melissa Jonson-Reid; and University of Chicago Professor Fred Wulczyn.

Topics will include leveraging administrative data to understand the scope and impact of maltreatment, identify effective interventions for child welfare, inform public policy, and system reform; and developing priorities and action steps to advance these efforts at a national level.

“Through this network and this conference, we are making Penn State a national resource on this topic,” Connell said. “We have put together an amazing line-up of presenters and speakers with expertise in the use of data to inform child safety and well-being. The conference is geared toward collaborative conversation and problem-solving, making this a unique opportunity to engage with experts on these critical issues.”

The conference is supported by sponsors across the University, including the Department of Public Health Sciences; the Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center; the Social Science Research Institute; the Child Study Center; the University Libraries; the Department of Educational Psychology, Counseling and Special Education; the Department of Biobehavioral Health; the College of Nursing; the Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness; the Institute for CyberScience; and the College of Information Sciences and Technology.

Last Updated September 05, 2018