Restricted vs Public Data

The Fragile Families & Child Wellbeing Study releases restricted data to the public via a contract data agreement. Contract files available include:

  1. a geographic file with variables for the focal child's birth city, mother's and father's state of residence at each interview,  and stratum and psu (note: replicate weights are available on the public file in lieu of these),
  2. a set of contextual characteristics of the census tract at each wave,
  3. medical records data for mothers and children from the birth hospitalization record,
  4. a school characteristics file (for the focal child's school at the Year 9 and Year 15 follow-up waves) based on National Center for Educational Statistics data
  5. labor market and macroeconomic file with data on local employment and national consumer confidence at each wave, and
  6. the FFCWS genetic data appendage. This contains genetic information on focal children and their biological mothers, collected during the in-home assessments at the Year 9 follow-up wave.  This genetic information will allow researchers to test hypotheses about the relationships among genes, family and community environments, and child development.   This file can be merged to all other restricted use contract data except the medical records file.

Access to FFCWS contract data is limited to researchers who agree to the terms and conditions contained in the Contract Data Use License. Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval of the researcher’s research and data protection plans are required. Therefore, only faculty and research personnel at institutions which have an Institutional Review Board/Human Subjects Review Committee are eligible to receive access to the contract data. The Institution’s IRB must be registered with the U.S. Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP) or the National Institute of Health (NIH). Although nearly all research universities and other research organizations in the United States have IRB’s registered with the OHRP, we are aware that some institutions and legitimate researchers will be excluded from access under this condition. We apologize for this and are considering options to expand the pool of eligible researchers while maintaining a high standard of protection for our respondents.

Please note:
  • University students may gain access to the Contract Data for dissertation research, but a faculty advisor must serve as the Investigator and complete the application process for them. The faculty advisor and institution bear full responsibility for ensuring that all conditions of the license are met by the student. The student must also sign the Supplemental Agreement with Research Staff form.
  • If co-investigators are from different institutions, you will need separate Contract Data Use Licenses for each institution.
  • Your university IRB must approve both your final research plan (extended abstract) and your final data protection plan. You are required to submit proof of IRB approval.
To be given access to the contract data, you must submit TWO copies of the following items to CRCW:
  1. An extended abstract describing your project and what you hope to accomplish, and a one-paragraph justification for why you need access to the contract data agreement data rather than public use data.
  2. Written assurance by the researcher that his/her institution has an Institutional Review Board (IRB) for Human Subjects which has a Multiple Project Assurance (MPA) or Federalwide Assurance (FWA) from NIH. The MPA or FWA number must be submitted with the application.
  3. A data protection plan, detailing how you plan to protect the files while they are being used, on your computer and after they are printed.
  4. An application fee of $250 (payable by check or money order to CRCW).
  5. A signed Contract Data Agreement by the Principal Investigator.
  6. A signed Contract Data Agreement by a senior university official who binds the university/institution. This refers to an individual who has the authority to represent your organization in agreements of this sort, such as a Vice President, Dean, Provost, Center Director, or similar official.
  7. A signed Supplemental Research agreement with Research Staff for each person who will have access to the data.
  8. A curriculum vitae for each person who will be accessing the information.
  9. A copy of the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) certificate of completion for all research staff who will access the contract data. The online certification can be completed at If you are a new CITI learner, please register and complete the Social and Behavior - Basic/Refresher course. Evidence of comparable training is also acceptable.

Please see the contract data agreement for instructions and necessary paperwork.

If you have any questions about this process, you can email