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Executive Summary

Purpose of the paper

This paper uses integrated administrative data to identify and describe the characteristics of children who are at higher risk of poor long-term outcomes, including low school attainment, long-term benefit receipt and contact with the justice system.

This work is part of a broader work programme which seeks to improve the lives of New Zealanders by applying evidence-based investment practices to social services. The “social investment” approach aims to use information and technology to better understand the people who need public services and what works, and to adjust services accordingly[1].

The analysis updates and extends an earlier study[2] that also identified groups of children at higher risk of poor long-term outcomes. It makes use of new information available in Statistics New Zealand's Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI), including information on selected health service use, births, border movements, and educational participation. The report provides separate analyses of data for children aged 0-5 and 6-14 years, reflecting the initial focus of social sector agencies on the younger age group. Results for all children aged 0-14 years are also included.

Research objectives

The earlier study found that a small number of characteristics observed in the integrated administrative data were correlated with poorer outcomes as young adults, including low school attainment, long-term benefit receipt and contact with the justice system. The current analysis focuses on the children who had two or more of the following characteristics (or indicators):

  • having a substantiated finding of abuse or neglect by Child, Youth and Family (CYF) or having spent time in their care
  • having spent more than three-quarters of their lifetime supported by benefits
  • having a parent who has received a community or custodial sentence
  • having a mother who has no formal qualifications

The choice of the four indicators was based on the characteristics identified in the earlier work and subsequent decisions made by social agencies on how the priority (or target) population would be defined.

Having defined the priority population, the aims of this work were to:

  • update the earlier work[3] that was undertaken using MSD's Integrated Child Dataset (ICD), using the additional data that is held in the Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI)
  • examine a wider set of characteristics than previously, making use of the more extensive relationship, health and education data in IDI
  • provide a complementary analysis to that previously undertaken for 15 to 24 year olds,[4] so that a more comprehensive picture of children and young adults at greater risk of poorer outcomes (aged 0 to 24 years) is available.

Data and methods

The study uses the Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI), which brings together information from a wide range of government departments. Records are linked using name and date of birth. After linking the data is anonymised and made available for research purposes.

The analysis describes various characteristics of the population of children aged 0 to 14 years at the end of December 2013. This time point was chosen so that the analysis was consistent with the analysis of youth aged 15 to 24 years, undertaken in 2015.

Future outcomes and selected future service costs are estimated for this population using data for earlier birth cohorts and statistical record linkage techniques. The methods used are described in Treasury's Analytical Paper 15/01.

In particular, the analysis of a recent population of children aged 0-14 years has been informed by a cohort analysis of individuals born in 1993, who can be observed through to age 21 in the dataset. The cohort analysis assessed the statistical strength of relationships between characteristics observed by each year of age and particular outcomes that were experienced as young adults.

Notes

  • [1]http://www.treasury.govt.nz/statesector/socialinvestment
  • [2]Crichton, S., Templeton, R., and Tumen, S. (2015) Analytical Paper 15/01: Using Integrated Administrative Data to Understand Children at Risk of Poor Outcomes as Young Adults, The Treasury. See: www.treasury.govt.nz/publications/research-policy/ap/2015/15-01/
  • [3]Crichton, S., Templeton, R., and Tumen, S. (2015) Analytical Paper 15/01: Using Integrated Administrative Data to Understand Children at Risk of Poor Outcomes as Young Adults, The Treasury. See: www.treasury.govt.nz/publications/research-policy/ap/2015/15-01/
  • [4]McLeod, K., Templeton, R., Ball, C., Tumen, S., Crichton, S., and Dixon, S. (2015) Analytical Paper 15/02: Using Integrated Administrative Data to Identify Youth Who Are at Risk of Poor Outcomes as Adults, The Treasury. See: www.treasury.govt.nz/publications/research-policy/ap/2015/15-02/
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