While NYTD and AFCARS collect information on a similar set or race data elements, there are a couple of differences that States should address when mapping race information between the two reporting systems. Unlike AFCARS, NYTD includes two administrative data elements that allow the State to report “unknown” (data element 11) or “declined” (data element 12) for a youth’s race.
While a State would simply report “declined” in a situation in which the youth or a youth’s parent declines to identify any race, there are two situations in which a State may report “unknown” for a youth’s race for NYTD. In order to make the response options on the screen or a form for “unknown” more meaningful to the case worker, the State should consider alternate terminology. One example might be “incapacitated” and “multi-racial-other race not known.” These would then map in NYTD to “unknown.” Since AFCARS does not have these administrative options, consider the following when the State is mapping and extracting the information for AFCARS reporting purposes:
The race or at least one race of the youth is unknown. To capture this information on the worker’s entry screen or form, the State may want to have a field that indicates the youth’s race is unknown (“unknown”). Please note, however, that if the State includes “unknown” as well as the race categories, and this is the only information the caseworker selects, then “unknown” would be reported as missing in AFCARS. While agencies may have a specific definition for “unknown” and provide training on its proper use, there is always the chance that the caseworker will select this option because he/she does not know the information because the worker never asked the youth or parent. If a State chooses to have a field that indicates the youth is multi-racial and that one of his/her races is unknown (“multi-racial-other race not known”), the screen should have the list of race options plus “multi-racial-other race not known.” The “multi-race-other race not known” value would then be mapped to blank and only the known race would be reported as “applies” in AFCARS.
The youth and/or parent is not able to communicate the youth’s race. To capture this information on the worker’s entry screen, the State may want to have a field that indicates this situation (“incapacitated or unable to communicate”). Each of these fields would then be mapped in NYTD to “unknown” and in AFCARS to “unable to determine.”
As shown in the chart below, the NYTD race response “declined” is mapped to the “unable to determine” race response in AFCARS. In an effort to capture accurate data for the NYTD race elements, States should exercise care in providing workers clear, meaningful options to input the responses. The extraction code also must correctly map these responses to the correct NYTD or AFCARS race element responses. A State that is in the process of changing their entry screens to accommodate the new NYTD race elements may also want to add the value of “abandoned” which for AFCARS purposes maps to the element “unable to determine.”
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