Where are America’s Foster Children?



The National Coalition for Child Protection Reform believes that too many children are placed needlessly in foster care.

The problem often is compounded by where children are placed. When a child must be placed in foster care, the least harmful placement almost always is with a member of the child’s extended family, known as “kinship foster care.” The worst placement almost always is a group home or an institution, known as “congregate care.”

This visualization compares state performance. It shows the percentage of children in each type of placement, with an emphasis on kinship care and congregate care, in 2010, the most recent year for which data are available. It also compares 2010 performance to 2009 in each category and the total number of children in all forms of foster care.

Full details are at http://www.nccprgraphics.blogspot.com.

 Posted by on January 31, 2012  Add comments

  3 Responses to “Where are America’s Foster Children?”

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  1. Hello, although the content of this visualization is great, I am really curious about how you incorporated both the arrow shapes and bar charts in a single chart. Could you elaborate how you got different mark types across column and apparently in the same worksheet? Thank you for any feedback you might have!


    • Kara,

      May I suggest downloading the workbook and opening it in Tableau for you to review? That’s the best way to see how somebody has built something.

      That said, the technique is very simple. There are three different measures showing — one showing the number of children, a second showing the percentage, and the third which which shows the percentage change from the previous year. Getting bars for the first two measures and a symbol for the third is easy — just change the mark type for the measure in question (right-click the measure on the Columns shelf is one way to do this). The trick with this one is that the measure for the third chart (the one that has the arrows pointing up and down) is just a static value fixed at “1” so that everything aligns. Well, it’s not quite a static value as there is a table calc that determines if we’re in the first cell of the partition of the second as I only want a single mark per category to appear.

      Again, downloading the workbook and seeing what is under the hood is the best way to see how the thing is built. If anything is unclear feel free to give me a call.


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