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Dataset Details

The National Survey on Child and Adolescent Well-being II (NSCAW II) General Release, Waves 1-3

Dataset Number: 173


Research Triangle Institute


The second National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW II) is a longitudinal study intended to answer a range of fundamental questions about the well-being, functioning, service needs, and service use of children who come in contact with the child welfare system. The study is sponsored by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). It examines the well-being of children involved with child welfare agencies; captures information about their families; provides information about child welfare interventions and other services; and describes key characteristics of child development. Of particular interest to the study are children's health, mental health, and developmental risks, especially for those children who experienced the most severe abuse and exposure to violence.

The NSCAW II study design essentially mirrors that of NSCAW I. The NSCAW II cohort includes 5,872 children, aged birth to 17.5 years old, who had contact with the child welfare system within a 15-month period that began in February 2008. Children were sampled from investigations closed during the reference period. The cohort of 5,872 children was selected from 81 of the original NSCAW 92 Primary Sampling Units (PSUs) in 83 counties in 30 states that agreed to participate in NSCAW II. Retaining most of the NSCAW I PSUs will allow researchers to assess the change in context from the late 1990s, and enable longitudinal analysis of organizational measures such as staff turnover, climate, and work environment.

The sample of investigated/assessed cases includes both cases that receive ongoing services and cases that are not receiving services, either because they were not substantiated or because it was determined that services were not required. The sample design-with oversampling of infants and children in out-of-home placement, and undersampling of cases not receiving services to ensure appropriate representation among subgroups-allows in-depth analysis of subgroups of special interest (e.g., young children, adolescents in foster care) while providing national estimates for the full population of children and families entering the system.

Like NSCAW I, NSCAW II is a longitudinal study with multiple informants associated with each sampled child, to get the fullest possible depiction of that child. Face-to-face interviews or assessments were conducted with children, parents, and nonparent adult caregivers (e.g., foster parents, kin caregivers, group home caregivers), and investigative caseworkers. Baseline data collection began in March 2008 and was completed in September 2009. The second wave of the study, 18 months after the close of the NSCAW II index investigation, began in October 2009 and was completed in January 2011. At Wave 3, children and families were reinterviewed approximately 36 months after the close of the NSCAW II index investigation. The NSCAW II cohort of children who were approximately 2 months to 17.5 years old at baseline ranged in age from 34 months to 20 years old at Wave 3. Data collection for the third wave of the study began in June 2011 and was completed in December 2012.

NDACAN's dedicated NSCAW User Support page contains a video and several documents to assist researchers with these data.

Bibliographic Citation

RTI International (2014). The National Survey on Child and Adolescent Well-being II (NSCAW II) General Release, Waves 1-3, Version 3.2 [Dataset]. National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect. Https://

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