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NDACAN connects researchers to vital data on child maltreatment

A new study by Ohio State University researchers that measures vital factors in father-child relationships relied on data from The National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect, or NCACAN, a database housed at the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research.

The study is a prime example of how the database, which is available for free to researchers, is advancing research in child maltreatment, youth development and family dynamics.

Susan Yoon is an assistant professor of social work at The Ohio State University focused on child maltreatment and lead author of the study. Her study, published in the Journal of Society for Social Work & Research, found that fathers’ involvement in the lives of youth improve the quality of relationships and intimate partner violence negatively affected the father–child relationship quality for non-biological fathers. She says NDACAN contributed profoundly to advancing her research program.

“It has been truly valuable to access and use the data from the NDACAN database to answer my research questions related to the impact of child maltreatment on youth development,” she said. “The two datasets I have used have rich information about child maltreatment characteristics – for example type, severity, timing, chronicity, perpetrator – and longitudinal youth developmental outcomes, including socio-emotional and behavioral health outcomes.”

In addition, Yoon’s research is based on an ecological systems theory model developed by Urie Bronfenbrenner, a world-renowned human development researcher and the namesake of the BCTR. Bronfenbrenner’s model essentially described how people develop in the context of relationships, such as those involving families, friends, schools, neighborhoods and society.

Yoon’s research team received technical assistance from BCTR researchers who managed the NDACAN database through newsletters and data updates. “In addition, the NDACAN support team has answered many questions and provided detailed information about the data,” she said.

NDACAN is funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and promotes analysis of data on child maltreatment, child well-being and adoption and foster care. NDACAN’s holdings include data from national surveys, administrative data from state and federal agencies and individual studies by child welfare researchers.

“For all of us who work at the Archive, it is incredibly gratifying to be able to provide the data—and user support—that helps facilitates this excellent research,” said Chris Wildeman, director of NDACAN and the BCTR. “Every time we see a study come out that uses the data we house, curate and distribute, we are all thrilled.”

In addition to acquiring and processing data, NDACAN staff provide technical assistance to child welfare researchers and encourage networking among them in order to exchange information. These efforts have resulted in several hundred published studies.  NDACAN also conducts analyses of archived data to support the work of government agencies, foundations, advocacy groups and the press.

2020 will be the Archive’s thirty-second consecutive year receiving federal funding since the Archive was established in 1988. Researchers find more information and review and order NDACAN data sets at for no charge on the NDACAN website.