FAQ: CFSR Statewide Data Indicator Syntax
Updated for CFSR Round 4!
Read responses to questions about the syntax used to calculate the Child and Family Services Review (CFSR) statewide data indicators.
Last updated: October 2022
The syntax zip file is available on the Children’s Bureau (CB) website with the code files and supporting files for completing data quality checks and calculating performance on the indicators. To receive the syntax files via email, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “CFSR Round 4 Syntax.”
For detailed instructions on how to access, download, and run the syntax, see the Center's publication, Instructions and Tips for Running the CFSR Round 4 Statewide Data Indicators Syntax, or email the Center for States at email@example.com.
You can also access a PDF copy of the syntax used to perform data quality checks, calculate observed performance, and calculate risk-standardized performance (RSP) on the seven statewide data indicators. This document can be used to develop a better understanding of the statistical calculations or provide assistance for individuals who do not have SPSS and/or STATA statistical software to run the syntax files. To receive the PDF, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with subject “CFSR Round 4 Syntax.”
Syntax to calculate RSP for each state uses a national, risk-adjusted model that requires child-level data from all states (i.e., national datasets) and thus cannot be replicated by states and interested parties.
To run the syntax for all statewide data indicators, five consecutive six-month AFCARS submissions and two corresponding twelve-month NCANDS submissions are needed. Please see the Center’s publication, Instructions and Tips for Running the CFSR Round 4 Statewide Data Indicators Syntax section on “Cohorts and Corresponding State AFCARS and NCANDS Data Submissions,” which outlines the AFCARS and NCANDS submissions needed for each indicator’s 12-month cohort.
A copy of AFCARs files or NCANDS files submitted to CB can be obtained from the person or team within the state responsible for transmitting it to CB. Additionally, submitted NCANDS files are also accessible from the secure NCANDS portal, which requires login credentials. Questions can be directed to members of the state data team or the Capacity Building Center for States at email@example.com.
The observed performance indicator syntax can be run in any order or only for specific indicators. However, there are steps that must be taken prior to running the observed performance syntax, including preparing the data files, confirming the file handle path, creating the source data files, and running the data quality syntax. For more information on these steps please see the Center's publications, Instructions and Tips for Running the CFSR Round 4 Statewide Data Indicators Syntax or Overview of How to Run the CFSR Round 4 Syntax for Data Quality Checks and Observed Performance or e-mail the Center for States at firstname.lastname@example.org.
State and CB calculations for observed performance will be identical if the state uses the same AFCARS or NCANDS data submissions as CB used. If any updates have been made to the data files since the data were submitted to CB, the results could be different.
Risk-standardized performance (RSP) cannot be calculated by the states. Calculating RSP requires data for all states and the SPSS syntax provided by CB does not implement RSP calculations.
The Capacity Building Center for States, with support from CB, is available to assist states with assessing the reason(s) for discrepancies between state and CB performance calculations. For assistance, contact your Capacity Building Center for States Tailored Services Liaison or email email@example.com.
Yes, it is possible to calculate observed performance using alternative statistical software or programming languages. The underlying logic of the SPSS syntax can be replicated and, if the logic is replicated correctly, results produced from alternative methods will match CB’s results, assuming the exact same AFCARS and NCANDS data submissions are used. If the results produced from alternative methods do not match CB’s results, then there is an error in the developed methods.
The Center for States is available to assist with efforts to calculate performance on the statewide data indicators using SPSS or other software. Additionally, the Center for States can help identify others who have developed alternative methods and might be available for peer support. To learn more, contact your Tailored Services Liaison or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Find information about using CFSR statewide data indicators to assess performance on child safety and permanency outcomes. Updated for Round 4!