2 Why have a coordinated state early childhood education (ECE) data system? What is a coordinated state ECE data system? Who will use a coordinated state ECE data system? What questions will the coordinated state ECE data system be able to answer? How will a coordinated state ECE data system operate? What are some key challenges in developing a coordinated state ECE data system? Where are Mississippi, Oklahoma, and South Carolina in developing a coordinated state ECE data system? What we'll talk about today
4 The end goal is to improve child outcomes -- in part through better access to high-quality service -- and data is an essential tool in achieving that goal. A coordinated state ECE data system can provide parents with the information they need to advocate on behalf of their children; educators with the information they need to serve those children; and policymakers with the information they need to manage the state's resources. For parents, connecting data can make it easier for them to access services. This will be most important for parents and caregivers of the most vulnerable children, who will have the greatest need for service. For educators and providers, linked data could help them understand the needs of the children they serve. Better understanding children’s needs will allow educators and providers to serve children more effectively – and potentially connect children to other available resources. For many others – including state policymakers and researchers – bringing disparate data sources together can provide information about what is needed and what is available from a resource or policy level. This information can be used to manage resources more efficiently, and to better understand the impact of early childhood education. Why have a coordinated data system?
6 A coordinated state ECE data system will link horizontally across multiple state agencies to bring together data about individual children. The early childhood system should link vertically to the state's longitudinal data system for K-12, higher ed, and the workforce. A coordinated system is different from a unitary system – which would create a single new database to replace existing agency databases. Right now, multiple agencies track information about the same children. Connecting that information will allow each of the agencies to operate more efficiently. In addition, once the information is linked, it can be reported out in ways that are beneficial to multiple audiences. What is a coordinated state ECE data system? A system that brings together data from multiple state agency systems
7 In the words of the Georgia State Advisory Council on Early Childhood Education and Care: "Ultimately, the measure of a state data system is not what it collects but what it produces." Once data is linked targeted portals can be used for reporting. Different portals could target different end users. The portals could include a mix of public sites and access-controlled sites. The public sites could include aggregated and sortable data targeted at the general public and policymakers. Some controlled-access sites could provide access to individual records without making them identifiable – that is, the user would not be able to connect a particular record to a particular child. This level of access could be useful for state agency staff, researchers, and others. Some controlled-access sites would provide access to individual information about a specific child or specific children. These sites would be used by parents, and by educators and providers. What is a coordinated state ECE data system? (cont'd) Information from the system can be reported out in "portals"
9 Some categories of end user to consider (even if they do not all warrant their own portal): Parents and other primary caregivers Pregnant women Early childhood program administrators Early childhood teachers/practitioners/home visitors Policymakers (legislators/elected officials) Judicial officials (including the juvenile courts) Vital records personnel K-12 teachers Special education/IDEA administrators Medical staff Social services staff State early childhood personnel Local early childhood personnel Personnel in the foster care and adoption system Child protective services State advisory council members and staff Municipal officials/planners Researchers Advocates/foundations Non-caregiving family members Who will use a coordinated state ECE data system? A wide variety of end users might choose to access the system in different ways
10 Parents will need information about what they can do at home, in addition to what services are available for them. Information for parents should be presented in a neutral and non-judgmental manner. A parent portal should provide clear explanations of what data points mean, with clear and simple language Parent portals should provide specific suggestions on recommended follow-ups, including potential providers. For example, if a child received a vision screening that identified issues for follow-up, the parent portal should suggest to parents some specialists in their area who might be able to help. Parent portals should help parents sort out the information they receive, and help them find meaning in raw information. For example, if the state has a QRIS system, the parent portal should explain what the star system means, and the benefits of choosing a higher-rated provider. Who will use a coordinated state ECE data system? (cont'd) Many users will engage with the system – but parents are special
12 There are three basic kinds of information that will make up the coordinated system: (1) information about children; (2) information about personnel; and (3) information about programs. If children, personnel, and programs each have an individual identifier, then states can decide what information to collect about each and then link that information together. The Early Childhood Data Collaborative has identified some key information to collect about children, personnel, and programs. With regard to children, the Collaborative recommends collecting "child-level demographic and program participation information" and "child-level data on child development." With regard to personnel, the Collaborative recommends collecting "individual Early Childhood Education workforce demographics, including education, and professional development information." With regard to programs, the Collaborative recommends collecting "program site data on structure, quality and work environment." What questions will the system answer? A few basic categories – infinite possibilities
13 Within this basic framework, each state should go through the process of developing its own list of key questions. Many key questions will be the same across states, including the most basic question: "Which children are enrolled in which programs?" However, many key questions will be idiosyncratic across states, based on local conditions and programs. The process of developing the question list can be informed from resources produced in other states, to help facilitate discussion. However, local stakeholders should be given an opportunity to add to the list and/or place emphasis on certain questions. Earlier this month Georgia held a "Data Roundtable," where multiple stakeholders reacted to a list of potential key questions and added their own. A conversation about what the system not only builds political will through stakeholder engagement, it makes it more likely that the system will actually justify the time and expense. Getting the right people involved at this stage is critical. What questions will the system answer? (cont'd) Each state should develop its own list
14 Five steps we suggest in the design process for developing a list of what questions the system will answer: 1. Identify key end users 2. Identify key questions 3. Identify the data elements that answer those questions 4. Identify where (if anywhere) those elements are tracked 5.Identify how to add and link data to answer the key questions needed What questions will the system answer? (cont'd) We suggest a five-step process for identifying which data elements must connect to answer key questions
15 For people to be able to act on the information in the coordinated system, personnel need to be trained in how to use it. Many state- and program-level personnel already know how to use data – but not all of them know how to use it effectively. Moreover, the new system may provide access to data that could seem overwhelming. For the system to succeed, states need to ensure that key personnel have the training needed to properly use the data made available by the system. At the program level, this means building training in data use into preparation programs and professional development opportunities. In some states, advocacy organizations put out reports providing data about the early childhood system with some explanation and analysis. Making raw aggregate data available to the public will make these advocacy reports more important, not less important. What questions will the system answer? (cont'd) Make sure the capacity is there to use the data effectively
16 The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) must be addressed in developing a coordinated state ECE data system, but they will not prevent states from developing their system. States need to be proactive about protecting data, and consider FERPA and HIPAA compliance in that context. FERPA focuses on protecting individually identifiable information. Even when information is protected under FERPA, that does not mean key questions cannot be asked and answered by the coordinated data system. Once the state has identified its key questions, it can determine whether FERPA is a restriction on the ability to provide answers to certain audiences. Many of the activities states may want to use their system for should require parental consent anyway, which can also address FERPA issues. HIPAA does not cover all medical information or health information. Even when HIPAA governs information in the coordinated system (which it won't always), there are numerous provisions that allow information to be disclosed with the right safeguards. The federal government wants coordinated state ECE data systems to work, and is open to conversations about how to think about FERPA and HIPAA in that context. Individual state privacy laws may also need to be considered when developing the system. What questions will the system answer? (cont'd) Privacy laws will limit the ability to answer some questions … but not many
18 Some elements of a successful, fully-developed system: Clarity of function Modularity (ability to build up to comprehensiveness) Strong governance Protocols to maintain data quality (collections, input, matching, and updating) Top-notch security Adequate support resources Research access protocols Minimized provider burden How will the system operate? For the system to succeed, the nuts and bolts have to work
20 Political challenges. Do stakeholders understand why a coordinated system is important? Do key management agencies have a forum to discuss high-level policy issues? Does the governance structure work? Federal law can provide some cover for this work – the fact that federal law requires recommendations for a coordinated state ECE data system at least forces some key questions onto the table. Think about how to leverage the possibility of future federal resources. Legal challenges. Is the system respectful of child privacy? Do the public and policymakers understand how the system's operation is respectful of child privacy? Privacy issues are critical, but should not be an impediment to raising the state's key questions. Cultural challenges. Do the end-users – particularly those with the closest connections to the most vulnerable children – naturally seek to use data? If they are willing to use data, are they able to do so effectively? And at the state agency level, do the day-to-day managers of data work well together? Technical challenges. Is the system capable of meeting the multiple and varied demands placed upon it? What are some key challenges? The technical challenges are real, but the human challenges are far more significant.
22 Mississippi is beginning to create a statewide system of early care and education. Funding for a coordinated data system was part of Mississippi's State Advisory Council grant application. The state's application for participation in this Institute identified some key questions the team would like to see answered. At this time there are no linkages among different agencies to share data. The team believes improved data will help lead to better child outcomes in the state. Mississippi would like to develop a linked database with a one-stop portal providing access to information from that database, with appropriate infrastructure and training to support the system's use. Where are Institute states in the process? Each of the three states is in a very different place
23 Oklahoma has a Data Systems and Coordination Workgroup, which is poised to support the Oklahoma Partnership for School Readiness (the state's designated advisory council). Oklahoma has leaders willing to engage in the process of developing a coordinated data system, but does not have the linkages it needs in place. Oklahoma is seeking to develop a reliable and accurate count of children and families, and then compare outcomes across systems. Concerns about confidentiality, funding, and governance have been identified as potential barriers to the work. The Workgroup has already developed some of the key questions it wants answered, and then explored other states' integrated systems. Oklahoma has begun inventorying existing data systems and studying the possibility of linking among them. Each involved agency has strong infrastructure for its own purposes. Where are Institute states in the process? (cont'd) Each of the three states is in a very different place
24 South Carolina has substantial infrastructure for linking data across agencies through the state's Office of Research and Statistics. In South Carolina multiple agencies provide data to the Budget and Control Board's Office of Research and Statistics, which allows for key data points to be shared. However, not all of the relevant data sets can "speak to each other," and the state does not have in place all of the protocols necessary to make data available. South Carolina seeks to explore the potential costs of a coordinated system, the current obstacles to full implementation (including the lack of data from federal programs), the standardized processes necessary to guide data sharing across agencies and organizations, and planning for the integration of non-public institutions. South Carolina is focused on using the existing data warehouse as a platform, but improving linkages and developing new processes to guide data use. Where are Institute states in the process? (cont'd) Each of the three states is in a very different place
25 Each of the three states has made some progress on answering the five initial steps listed earlier: 1. Identify key end users 2. Identify key questions 3. Identify the data elements that answer those questions 4. Identify where (if anywhere) those elements are tracked 5.Identify how to add and link data to answer the key questions needed All of the state applications gave indications that some of these questions are being worked on, but none of them made it sound as if the state has fully answered all of them. Answering these questions will help inform the state's development of governance and operational protocols. The Institute process is meant to help states provide firm answers to each of these questions, and use the development of answers to drive the process of designing structures and processes to support a coordinated data system. Where are Institute states in the process? (cont'd) Summary
26 Questions? Followup? If you have any further questions about this presentation contact: Elliot Regenstein firstname.lastname@example.org (312) 212-4380 Much of the material in this presentation was originally developed for use by the Georgia State Advisory Council on Early Childhood Education and Care, and is used courtesy of that Council and Georgia's Department of Early Care and Learning.