Child and Youth Data Laboratory

The Child and Youth Data Laboratory (CYDL) is a joint initiative between PolicyWise for Children & Families and participating ministries in the Government of Alberta. The mandate of the CYDL is to link and analyse administrative data from Government ministries, to provide evidence for policy and program development.

One of the unique characteristics of CYDL is its close partner relationships with the government. The partnering ministries are funders, data providers, as well as end product (knowledge and evidence) users. To improve evidence based decisions making, CYDL adopts integrated knowledge mobilization approach where the ministries are engaged and involved in every step of the creation of evidence to ensure relevance and usefulness of the results and the uptake of the information for policy. The ultimate goal of CYDL is to improve the outcomes of children and family in Alberta through better research and evidence. To that end, the close partnership with decision makers is critical.

Administrative data are collected during the administration of ministries’ services, such as making payments for physician visits, tracking student enrollment data, or managing income support cases. The data are anonymous and are population-wide. The linkage process employed by the CYDL preserves privacy while enabling this exciting and unprecedented opportunity to understand the lives of Albertans.

The CYDL is governed by a number of committees and working groups comprised of staff from the partnering ministries, including an Assistant Deputy Minister’s Steering Committee and several working groups. All work closely with the CYDL toward the goal of generating population-based research that will enhance policy and program development for the children and youth of Alberta.

Current Longitudinal Project

Experiences of Alberta Children and Youth Over Time, 2005-06 to 2010-11

This longitudinal, cross-ministry study is an analysis of over two million Albertans and their use of government services over the span of six years. Findings can be accessed using online, interactive data visualizations.

Access all deliverables from this project.

What’s New

Resources from launch of findings on January 27, 2017

Access the following Population Profiles:


The Program Overlap Matrix is now available for use.


Previous Projects

Experiences of Albertan youth in 2008/09

This study looked at ministry service usage for virtually all youth aged 12 to 24 years during that year.

Access a collection of Data Bytes – quick facts gathered from the findings.

Access the details – includes introduction, summary of findings, 15 topic-directed reports and technical reports.

Special Projects

In addition to major projects, The Child and Youth Data Laboratory is involved in special projects including: