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Penn, City and School District Partnership: Policy and Analysis Center
April 20, 2010, Volume 56, No. 30

The Policy and Analysis Center (PAC), launched recently by Philadelphia’s municipal government and the School District of Philadelphia, is drawing on the Kids Integrated Data System (KIDS) model in a ground-breaking initiative designed to improve health, education, and social services for the city’s residents. The PAC will operate under Donald Schwarz, Philadelphia Deputy Mayor for Health and Opportunity, in close collaboration with the School District.

Administrative databases provide a powerful source of information for research and policy analysis, explained Penn GSE Professor John Fantuzzo. Combining data from different agencies increases their diagnostic power exponentially. For example, by using integrated data systems like KIDS, researchers can see how investments in quality pre-school can be designed to reduce the use of costly services to address truancy and dropout outcomes.

“What’s exciting,” said Dr. Fantuzzo, “is that this kind of research is possible in months rather than years and at a fraction of the cost of longitudinal research based on primary data collection.” Dr. Fantuzzo and Dr. Dennis Culhane, a professor in Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice, were the lead developers of KIDS. Dr. Heather Rouse, a research associate at Penn GSE, has been named PAC Deputy Research Director.

“At a time when our residents are most vulnerable and our operating budgets are facing pressures at the federal, state, and local level, we must find an efficient method to operate across systems. The Policy and Analysis Center will give the city, school district, and other stakeholders a forum to identify key issues and a responsibility to work collaboratively to develop cost-effective solutions,” said Deputy Mayor Schwarz.

The PAC is being supported through a three-year $1.2 million grant from the William Penn Foundation to Penn GSE with Drs. Fantuzzo and Culhane as co-principal investigators.  Dr. Rouse’s position is being funded through a three-year Public Policy Fellowship from the Stoneleigh Center.

Ronnie Bloom, director of Children, Youth and Families of the William Penn Foundation, said, “It is gratifying to see the City and School District building a shared capacity to examine important issues affecting the community and to improve policy and practice. I’m confident we will see a profound impact on our city in the months and years to come.”

Almanac - April 20, 2010, Volume 56, No. 30