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Better use of administrative data is essential to enhance understanding about the family justice system, and characteristics and outcomes for children and families. The Nuffield Family Justice Observatory Data Partnership supports this aim through analyses of core family justice datasets. When a child is involved in family court proceedings in Wales, Cafcass Cymru are employed to represent a child’s best interests. This paper provides an overview of the Cafcass Cymru data, and linkage to population level health and other administrative datasets held within the Secure Anonymised Information Linkage (SAIL) Databank. Two data linkage example analyses are described. Further research opportunities are outlined.
Cafcass Cymru data was transferred to SAIL using a standardised approach to provide de-identified data with Anonymised Linking Fields (ALF) for successfully matched records. Three cohorts were created: all individuals involved in family court applications; all individuals with an ALF allowing subsequent health data linkage; and all individuals with a Residential Anonymised Linking Field (RALF) and Lower Super Output Area (LSOA) enabling area level deprivation analysis.
Cafcass Cymru data are available containing 12,745 public law applications between 2011 and 2019, with 52,023 applications from 2005 to 2019 for private law. The overall match rate was 80%, with variations observed by time, law type, roles, gender and age. Forty per cent had hospital inpatient admissions 2 years prior or after application receipt at Cafcass Cymru, of which 27% were for emergency admissions; 54% had an emergency department attendance and 61% an outpatient appointment during the same period. Individuals involved in public or private law applications were more likely to reside in deprived areas.
The Nuffield Family Justice Observatory Data Partnership will enhance research opportunities to better understand the family justice system and outcomes for children and families. Population level Cafcass Cymru data can be accessed through the SAIL Databank. Forthcoming data acquisition will also facilitate further analyses and insight.
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