Understanding and interpreting complex data can be a daunting task, but using data in decision-making is vital to creating policies and providing services that best serve the population. By making data straightforward and presenting it in user-friendly platforms, the Center is working to create a culture where data is a fundamental component of how educators, professionals and policy-makers conduct business in Montana. We envision a state where schools better understand the holistic needs of children and families, where non-profits and government agencies understand complex social issues in their county, where state legislators quickly view data on their constituents as they rush between committee meetings, and where children and their families are provided optimal support and services. 

Data Dashboard Q & A

Indicators are the measurable point of information that provide comparable data for different populations and geographic areas. They are often used to understand a social issue or health concern in a community or to set goals and outcomes for programming within schools, agencies, and local/state governments. Indicators guide us in moving from data to action.

It should be noted that indicators only provide a single point of data in time and do not tell us the entire story of community vitality and wellness.

The data collected for this tool comes strictly from reliable objective independent and government agencies. Due to local, state, and federal changes in data collection requirements there may be missing data points from some data sets. We attempted to mitigate this as best as possible.

The Center has collected a wide variety of data. Our goal is to not only provide you with common health indicators but also to think about what data might be unique to the experiences of individuals living in Montana, such as our open space. 

To help navigate our site, indicators are organized into six buckets. The following is a list of each bucket and the indicators you can expect to find inside. 

  • People: Population, median age, population by age group, population by race, veteran status, people experiencing homelessness, youth experiencing homelessness, single parent families, kids by heads of household education level, children in foster care, children in foster care by gender, and family homelessness
  • Education: Public K-12 school enrollment, special education enrollment, homeschooled children, high school graduation rate, high school drop out rate

  • Health: Low birth weight babies, birth rate, prenatal care, pre-term babies, teen birth rate, children insured through Healthy Montana Kids, children with an uninsured parent, uninsured children, child immunization rate, teen asthma, cancer rate, chronic lower respiratory disease rate, heart disease, accident rate, stroke rate, primary care physicians by 100,000, death by top five leading causes, excessive drinking, and drug-related deaths

  • Economics: Free and reduced lunch, TANF, SNAP, WIC, Child food insecurity, food insecurity, best beginnings scholarships, cost of living, severe housing problems, poverty, children below 150%, 200%, and 250% poverty, children under age eight living below 200% poverty, income inequality, average wage by sector, top five employment sectors

  • Teen Wellness: Cigarette use, alcohol use, age of first alcoholic drink, feelings of hopelessness, suicidality, sexual assault, school safety

  • Community Vitality: Civic engagement, partner and family member assault, drug offenses, violent crime, recidivism rate, and cause of recidivism

The Center reviews this site bi-annually to make certain you are getting the most up-to-date data. If you think information is incorrect or incomplete, please contact us and we will quickly work to validate the data.

Are there additional indicators you would like to see? Are you interested in data visualization within your county? Contact us at ccfwd@umontana.edu to discuss how we can provide this resource for your community. 

For each indicator, we created a county-wide map allowing you to toggle between years to visually showcase changes in communities. Below the county map, a trend line allows you to select a Montana county. Once a county is selected, a graph tracks the indicator over time compared to the average county in Montana.

Additional information about the indicator is displayed in a caption box below the trend line or chart, including data sources for each indicator. We also provide links and helpful tools below some indicators that provide more information about the indicator or connect you with local resources and agencies who specialize in working within the indicator.

For some variables, we only had access to data for the entire state. In these instances, you will find Montana compared to the United States.
If you get an error message while trying to view visualizations on the data dashboard, check to be sure your web browser and Java software is up to date. Outdated software can cause errors to occur. If you continue to experience issues, contact Kim Spurzem at (406)243-5468 or kim.spurzem@mso.umt.edu 
Improving outcomes through data-driven decision making.