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Dataset Details

The National Survey on Child and Adolescent Well-being III (NSCAW III) Restricted Release, Wave 1

Dataset Number: 273


Research Triangle Institute


The third National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW III) 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.

NSCAW III includes 3,298 children ranging in age from 0 to 17.5 years old at the time of sampling. Children were sampled from child welfare investigations closed between July 2017 and September 2021 in 61 counties in 17 states. NSCAW III baseline data collection began in November 2017 and was completed in March 2022. Due to the in-person nature of data collection, baseline field work was on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic from March 2020 until May 2021.The NSCAW III data collection includes children who were the subject of a child protective services report (as was the case in NSCAW I and II); however, sampling was expanded to also include children coming into the CWS through alternative pathways, like the juvenile court system or child trafficking. A major objective of NSCAW III is to maintain the design strengths of the previous two NSCAW cohorts while also reflecting the current child welfare population and the evolving policy and practice dynamics. For these purposes, several aspects of two prior NSCAW cohorts were preserved in NSCAW III. However, unlike NSCAW II, which reused the NSCAW I PSUs, NSCAW III selected a somewhat independent sample of PSUs although a sampling process was used that maximized the probability that NSCAW I/II sample PSUs were re-selected.

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 children aged 12-17.5 who are more likely to enter and remain in out of home placements, and the expansion to include children who enter CWS custody without a maltreatment investigation - allows in-depth analysis of subgroups of special interest while providing national estimates for the full population of children and families entering the system.

Bibliographic Citation

RTI International. (2023). The National Survey on Child and Adolescent Well-being III (NSCAW III) Restricted Release [Data set]. National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect.

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