Up to $80 billion is spent annually across the U.S. to confront child abuse and neglect, an ugly underside of American life that afflicts hundreds of thousands of children.
Los Angeles County, with the largest child protective services agency in the country, believes there has to be a better way to protect at-risk youth than the current outdated and costly approach. LA County is piloting the use of predictive analytics technology — informally known as big data — from Cary, North Carolina-based software company SAS, to do a better job of identifying children who may otherwise be left in a vulnerable position.
For professionals working in child protective services, it remains difficult and frustrating to use the frequency of calls about suspected abuse to identify which children are living at a high level of risk.
"We put a man on the moon in a 10-year period, and yet we haven't been able to identify a tool to help us in the child welfare industry," said Philip Browning, director of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) in Los Angeles County.