In another example of the Alliance Effect, Alliance allies, Early Learner South Dakota, an initiative of the South Dakota AEYC, and the Committee for Economic Development (CED) partnered to design a comprehensive set of statewide interactive early care and education program data maps to address South Dakota’s historical challenge of having very little publicly available child care supply and demand information.
The maps, which include socio- economic demographic data layered with detailed early child program supply data at the neighborhood level, offer South Dakota communities a readily accessible, accurate and timely snapshot of early childhood landscape for the first time.
It’s a development that will not only benefit early learner communities. The rich data will be a vital resource for advocates across the state working on the full spectrum of early care and education issues, including child care affordability, workforce development, and disparities in access and quality.
“We’re in a state that has historically been ‘data poor,’ with minimal state-level child care infrastructure,” says Kayla Klein, Executive Director of Early Learner South Dakota. “This type of information, put together at the community level, offers decision makers, business leaders, and communities an unprecedented opportunity to capture the critical information required to devise community-level solutions for meeting their early care and education needs.”
Ultimately, the goal of the maps is to facilitate data-informed collaboration and planning among policymakers, local business and community leaders, providers and advocates who want to better understand and address the unique characteristics of the early care and education landscape in communities across the state. With any luck, the maps will seed new and replicated strategies across the state, like South Dakota’s Pioneer Bank and Trust company’s $5,000 per child stipends to support the cost of community based care for its employees.
At least six Early Learning Communities have begun using the maps to inform their forthcoming plans to define and implement community-level solutions to their early care and education supply and demand challenges, while several more communities are using the data maps to engage local chambers, economic development and civic leaders in discussions about their child care supply needs and the impact on the local economy.
The South Dakota ECE Data maps collaboration with CED partners represents the power of the Alliance effect to maximize the impact for state based allies.
“When Early Learner South Dakota asked for help, they presented two initial concerns. First, parents struggle to find licensed care in too many communities across the state. And, second, that much of the limited care that is available is unlicensed. Working to translate child care program data into a mapping tool was a great opportunity to show how data visualization can work to paint a fuller picture and support data-driven decision-making for effective policy solutions.” said Cindy Cisneros, Vice President of Education Programs at the Committee for Economic Development (CED) of The Conference Board.
Because of the effective collaboration between Alliance’s partners, South Dakota communities will have the data they need to act strategically and effectively to improve access to quality early care and education programs.
But the good news doesn’t stop there.
In fact, as a result of the release of this data, Early Learning South Dakota was invited to partner with the Economic Development Professionals Association and State Senator Tim Reed (R) to co-chair a state-level child care access and supply task force composed of economic development experts, child care providers and advocates. With any luck, this data will open up a stateside dialogue about the child care system and facilitate conversations about structural reforms to better serve South Dakota’s youngest learners and their families.
For more information on the design and build out of the data maps please contact Cindy Cisneros at CED.