July/August 2017Vol. 18, No. 5Integration of Early Childhood Data
Early childhood programs have been shown to positively impact children's lives and future outcomes. Integrating and linking data collected from these programs by using a framework often referred to as Early Childhood Integrated Data Systems (ECIDS) serves to inform program leaders about program access, participation, and quality; determine federal and state funding allocation; identify areas in need of improvement; improve the coordination of service delivery both locally and statewide; and more.
The Integration of Early Childhood Data: State Profiles and a Report From the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Education, is intended to help states establish a system of data integration that will support and improve services for young children and families. Included in the report are the following 10 key considerations for integrating and linking early childhood data:
- Develop a purpose and vision for the ECIDS, including the short- and midterm results the state wants to achieve.
- Create strong data governance processes.
- Meaningfully engage stakeholders, including data owners, data users, parents and families, funders, advocacy groups, and professional organizations.
- Ensure data ownership is clearly included in vendor contracts and that early childhood programs retain ownership of their own data for their own use at any time.
- Ensure children's and parent's rights to privacy.
- Ensure data security without limiting access to authorized users.
- Ensure data quality and comparability across data systems by training staff on data entry and data use as well as developing a data dictionary that includes definitions of specific data elements.
- Build capacity to analyze and use data to develop meaningful reports for stakeholders.
- Capitalize on other data integration efforts by building on lessons learned from recent ECIDS efforts in other states.
- Integrate and link broad types of data together, such as Head Start data and child care data.
These considerations are based on best practices from the field and on lessons learned from the eight states (Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Utah) profiled in the report that are actively engaged in developing data-integration programs. The report also includes two appendices that provide additional information on federal resources for supporting data integration and data privacy laws and regulations.
The full report, The Integration of Early Childhood Data: State Profiles and a Report From the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Education, is available at https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/ecd/intergration_of_early_childhood_data_final.pdf (1,510 KB).