Challenges to Data Collection in Connecticut

CAHS will soon be releasing our Annie E. Casey Kids Count Special Report. In this report, we compare five Connecticut regions along 13 indicators to explore how children’s and families’ outcomes differ by race and ethnicity. In the National Kids Count profile, Connecticut is listed among the top states in the country for child outcomes. However, we know that statewide measures do not tell the entire story, and disaggregated data indicates that children of color fare far worse than their Non-Hispanic White counterparts. This underscores the importance of the availability of disaggregated data.

In preparing the report, we often found it difficult to procure complete disaggregated data from state agencies. Some of this was due to agencies collecting racial and ethnic data in different ways. For example, because residents are listed by race and ethnicity, Hispanics who identify as White might be listed as White in some instances and as Hispanic in others. This makes it difficult to compare the statistics of Hispanics and Whites. A solution to this is to require all state agencies to collect, track, and report race and ethnic data in in accordance to the federal reporting guidelines, in which racial and ethnic groups are delineated in a uniform fashion.

Another obstacle to collecting disaggregated data is suppression, a practice designed to protect the privacy of residents in highly-detailed population data. Agencies set minimum thresholds for reporting, and any disaggregated count falling below the minimum is not reported. Because most towns in CT are majority-White, groups of color are most likely to have their values suppressed in many disaggregated town-level statistical counts. Yet, these are the groups who disproportionately face social and economic disadvantages, and are therefore the people for whom complete, highly detailed statistics are most important. The solution CAHS supports is for agencies to use non-suppressed values to compute their totals for statistics of all residents, and if necessary to use units of measurement larger than towns when computing totals, so that complete data for residents of color will be available.

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