McKinley Children’s Center – Delivering the right children’s services with IBM Big Data & Analytics



The need

McKinley Children’s Center wanted to better understand how different social and home variables impact a child’s ultimate success so it could deliver the right combination of services for each child.

The solution

Working with IBM and Data41, an IBM Business Partner, the center is launching a big data and analytics initiative that will help staff identify and implement preventive measures that improve outcomes.

The benefit

Phase one led to a 99 percent reduction in data collection and reporting time, helping staff more quickly identify trends in serious incidents so that appropriate services can be offered.

Based in San Dimas, California, McKinley Children’s Center is a premier provider of child welfare services for Los Angeles County and Orange County. The organization serves more than 700 children annually through residential care, foster care and adoptions, special education, and mental health services.

Identifying key variables to a child’s success

Which family is the best fit for each child? Which programs and services will help each child achieve the best possible outcome? How can we better respond to state requirements for performance-based reporting?

Social services agencies have long collected data and reported on the outcomes of the children they serve. But with much data about a child’s care captured on paper, agencies can’t easily assess how different variables impact a child’s outcome. The McKinley Children’s Center sought to create a data-driven organization that could pinpoint exactly which variables had the most impact on a child’s success. “We want to predict and improve outcomes, especially in the area of permanency in either a stable family or independent living setting,” says Anil Vadaparty, chief administrative officer, McKinley Children’s Center.

For center executives, recent work with state and local agencies to integrate their data into the platform and create a comprehensive view of each child’s needs offers exciting possibilities. “Many of our kids receive services from numerous state and local agencies,” says Vadaparty. “By sharing our work, we can give these kids the best possible opportunity for success.”

Uncovering patterns that were previously difficult to see

Working with IBM and IBM Business Partner Data41, the center launched a big data and analytics initiative that helps staff identify which combination of services will lead to the best outcome for each child. The solution uses IBM® Cognos® Business Intelligence, IBM SPSS® Statistics and IBM SPSS Modeler software, part of the IBM Big Data & Analytics Platform, to collect, correlate and conduct predictive analytics from a wide range of data sources, such as staff notes, child and family assessments, and clinical tests. By combining data from handwritten notes with structured data, and applying sophisticated analytic models, staff can, for the first time, uncover patterns that were previously difficult to see.

“We don’t want to replace people’s instincts,” says Mario Gallegos, quality system supervisor for the center. “We want to give our staff the data to help support those instincts.”

Ensuring each child gets the right combination of services

Phase one of the project addressed collection and correlation of structured and unstructured data, dashboard development, and statistical analytics, and has helped the center reduce the time to collect data and generate reports by more than 99 percent (from two months to mere minutes). As a result, the center can now more quickly identify trends in serious incidents so that appropriate services can be offered. This work also laid the foundation to meet upcoming state requirements for performance-based reporting.

Phase two will apply advanced analytic models to help staff gain new insight into each child’s needs. “Ultimately, this work will lead to better outcomes and help us ensure that each child gets the services he or she needs to become a successful citizen,” Vadaparty says.

Solution components


• IBM Big Data & Analytics Platform

– IBM® Cognos® Business Intelligence

– IBM SPSS® Modeler

– IBM SPSS Statistics

IBM Business Partner

• Data41