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Reducing Respondent Burden in Counting Juveniles

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The U.S. Census Bureau conducts the Census of Juveniles in Residential Placement every other year for the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. This survey collects data from almost 2,400 public and private juvenile facilities that hold juveniles charged or adjudicated for a delinquency or status offense to provide a count of juveniles in publicly and privately run juvenile correctional facilities.

The data collection has two parts: (1) questions about the facility and (2) questions about each charged or adjudicated juvenile held in the facility.

For each juvenile, we ask the following:

  • Gender.
  • Date of birth.
  • Race.
  • Who placed the juvenile in the facility.
  • Most serious offense.
  • State or territory where offense was committed.
  • Adjudication status.
  • Admission date.

Facilities have the option of responding by mail, through the internet or by fax. Those that respond online can enter the data for each juvenile or they can upload a data file. For the 2013 collection, we suggested that larger facilities should upload a data file but did not define how big a larger facility is.

Our online data collection tool collects paradata for each response. The paradata file captures the values that the facility enters, as well as any changes that the facility makes, and keeps track of the edit messages that the facility sees while reporting their data. Each action has an associated time stamp, so we can tell how long each facility spends online to report their data.

The graphic below shows that as the number of juvenile records entered online increased, the amount of time spent in the data collection tool increased. To reduce the burden on the juvenile facilities, we could include this graphic in the next data collection and suggest that facilities with 50 or more juvenile records upload a data file instead of spending hours entering that data in the data collection tool. Knowing this information is essential to helping us make responding to the survey easier for staff at the juvenile facilities.

We have also shared these results with the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, and they plan to use it in the future to adjust their estimation of respondent burden hours that they report to the Office of Management and Budget each year.

I will provide more suggestions for reducing respondent burden for juvenile residential facilities at the 2016 Joint Statistical Meetings and in the conference proceedings.

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