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Serv and Return:
State Early Childhood Data Dashboards

Serv and Return is an occasional series that spotlights a recent exchange on the Alliance listserv—a widely used channel for the network to provide rapid-response resources and support to one another. 

In February, allies responded to a listserv request from an advocate in Maine:

“I’m looking for examples of states with comprehensive, publicly available data dashboards for early childhood education such as programming, workforce data, children served, etc.”

Heather Marden,
Maine Association for the
Education of Young Children

Comprehensive early childhood data dashboards can be powerful tools for state and local administrators to use in guiding policy decisions, crafting targeted interventions and measuring impact and reach. Similarly, data dashboards can be highly effective tools for advocates to use in developing a data- and-equity-informed advocacy strategy. 

While some similarities among ECE data dashboards exist, dashboards vary in many ways based on state and local information needs. 

Ohio Early Childhood Dashboard and South Dakota’s Early Learner Data Dashboard are point-in-time snapshots of data collected about broad indicators of child and family well-being, such as school readiness, as well as program specific data like SNAP and Medicaid access.   

Oregon’s Child Wellbeing Dashboard, Texas’ School Readiness Dashboard, and Kentucky Early Childhood Profiles are web-based, semi-interactive dashboards that focus on highlighting data and statistics from a variety of public systems including the Census.These dashboards analyze data across child well-being indicators such as child malnutrition, homelessness, and positive adult-child interaction, as well as social service program participation, like Foster Care enrollment. Relatedly, some states like Minnesota’s Early Childhood Longitudinal Data System offer a one-stop-shop for integrated systems data that is customizable and searchable for ECE stakeholders who want to analyze the data themselves. 

Some dashboard models focus on need and participation data, like the Georgia Cross Agency Child Data System (CACDS) and Community Data Explorer which allow users, through a web-based interactive portal, to customize their search of ECE program enrollment and participation data by demographic and geographic characteristics. 

Other states use a combination ECE dashboard and web-based integrated ECE data system interface to provide real time ECE data and analytics. The Illinois’ Early Childhood Dashboard benchmarks progress on state ECE strategic priorities (access, quality, workforce, coordination, economic security, and school readiness as measured by the IL Kindergarten Individual Development Survey (KIDS)). As a companion tool, the Illinois Early Childhood Asset Map (IECAM) offers a fully interactive, customizable and integrated ECE data system portal that can be formatted by relevant demographic characteristics, including race, geographic area, type of service, and year.

Instead of building out custom dashboards, many states rely on the robust state-by-state datasets already maintained by national organizations, including the Prenatal to Three Policy Impact Center’s State Policy Roadmaps, ZERO TO THREE’s State of Babies State Profiles, the National Institute for Children in Poverty’s State Early Childhood Profiles, and the Hunt Institute’s Early Childhood Landscape Narratives.

For more information about comprehensive ECE data dashboards and how they are used to share data from states’ early childhood integrated data systems (ECIDS), advocates were encouraged to contact Carlise King at the Early Childhood Data Collaborative. For information about tools that can support a state’s ECE Technology Ecosystem, they were invited to contact Louise Stoney at the Opportunities Exchange.


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