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Nonprofit Child Watch to offer data on state of children in Allegheny County

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By Bill Zlatos
Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013, 11:23 p.m.
 

A North Side nonprofit will upload a website in June that serves as a clearinghouse of information on the state of children in Allegheny County.

“We think it'll be a real service for the community,” said Christopher P. Smith, executive director of Child Watch of Pittsburgh.

The website will contain thousands of pieces of county, state and national data on children in five areas: their family, economic security, education, physical and emotional health and community. The data will cover at least a five-year period.

“There's a massive amount of information available, but it comes in tidbits, in blips,” Smith said. “We thought it would be good to make it available to someone in the community in as real time as possible and look at it over time.”

The website will give lawmakers, social service agencies and other child advocates a variety of information ranging from drug use by parents to school attendance rates to crime rates where children live.Child Watch has no intention to use the data to judge how well Allegheny County is taking care of its children, Smith said.

“We want interested managers, state representatives to look at the data and create legislation that will impact children's well-being,” said Mara Christy, an intern working on the project from the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Public and International Affairs.

The website will be similar to one produced by the state of New York, said J. Robert Namestka, founder of screamingdata, a software firm in Irwin that is working on the project.

Smith estimates the cost to develop the website at $250,000. The Richard King Mellon Foundation has awarded two grants totaling $230,000 for the project, and Child Watch is raising the rest from its board members and other individuals.

Bill Zlatos is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7828 or bzlatos@tribweb.com.

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