Hello Baby Program - Proactive Child Welfare Predictive Risk Model

Allegheny County’s Hello Baby Program is intended to provide every family of a new-born universal access to information and resources and differentiated and intensive support for families with complex challenges and needs. The CSDA research team was engaged by Allegheny County Department of Human Services to develop a screening tool that would allow for identification of families with highest needs.  The agency will contract externally for programmatic intervention and independent evaluation.


Vaithianathan, R., Maloney, T., Putnam-Hornstein, E., & Jiang, N. (2013). Children in the public benefit system at risk of maltreatment: Identification via predictive modeling. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 45(3), 354-359.

This paper co-authored by Rhema Vaithianathan and Tim Maloney (CSDA co-director 2016-2019) outlines the method of using an automated predictive risk model to identify children at high risk of maltreatment, as well as discussing the strategic targeting of prevention activities toward these individuals.

Vaithianathan, R., Rouland, B., & Putnam-Hornstein, E. (2018). Injury and mortality among children identified as at high risk of maltreatment. Pediatrics, 141(2), e20172882.

This study by Rhema Vaithianathan, Bénédicte Rouland (CSDA research fellow 2016-2018) and Emily Putnam-Hornstein explored a model which assigned risk scores for the risk of a substantiated finding of maltreatment to children born in New Zealand in 2010, to see whether children at the highest 10% and 20% of risk would have an elevated chance of injury or death in early childhood. The study found that children assessed as being “very high risk” (highest 10%) and “high-risk” (highest 20%) had 4.8 times and 4.2 times respectively higher post-neonatal mortality rates than other children.

Vaithianathan, Rhema; Diana Benavides-Prado and Emily Putnam-Hornstein. Implementing the Hello Baby Prevention Program in Allegheny County. Centre for Social Data Analytics. Auckland, New Zealand. September 2020.

This report summarises the development and implementation of the Hello Baby program which is supported by a predictive risk modelling (PRM) tool, built and deployed by the Centre for Social Data Analytics. Hello Baby is a new universal tiered program designed to prevent harm and protect children, introduced as a pilot program by the Allegheny County Department of Human Services in September 2020.  The County will use the PRM tool to establish eligibility for higher intensity services, alongside self-referral and professional referral. The methodology provides background to the introduction of Hello Baby, explains the selection of the PRM tool as an eligibility pathway, describes how historical data was used to train and validate the PRM tool and explains how the tool will be used as part of the implemented Hello Baby program. Additional documentation about the Hello Baby program including ethics reports and FAQs is found on the Allegheny County website.

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Quick facts

Location: Allegheny County – PA, United States

Partner/s: Allegheny County Department of Human Services, Children’s Data Network (University of Southern California)

Timeframe: 2018-