Minnesota Integrates State Data to Improve Early Childhood Programming

Posted February 16, 2018
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Minnesota Integrates State Data to Improve Early Childhood Programming

Ear­ly learn­ing ser­vices can pos­i­tive­ly impact how under­served chil­dren fare in school and life. Rec­og­niz­ing this, offi­cials in Min­neso­ta have sharp­ened their capac­i­ty to iden­ti­fy ser­vice gaps and needs by launch­ing the Ear­ly Child­hood Lon­gi­tu­di­nal Data Sys­tem (ECLDS). This inno­v­a­tive infor­ma­tion shar­ing sys­tem inte­grates state data on edu­ca­tion, health and social services.

The Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion is a strong pro­po­nent of inte­grat­ed data sys­tems such as ECLDS, which can help pol­i­cy­mak­ers and prac­ti­tion­ers make bet­ter deci­sions that more effec­tive­ly serve chil­dren and families.

In Min­neso­ta, con­di­tions for launch­ing ECLDS were ide­al, accord­ing to Cindy Guy, vice pres­i­dent for Research, Eval­u­a­tion, Evi­dence and Data for the Foun­da­tion. Min­neso­ta had an acces­si­ble web­site and a well-devel­oped and inte­grat­ed ear­ly child­hood data sys­tem with agree­ments between agen­cies already in place,” Guy recalls.

While Min­neso­ta has invest­ed mil­lions of dol­lars in a vari­ety of ear­ly learn­ing and child care pro­grams, these efforts were dif­fi­cult to track pre-ECLDS. Dif­fer­ent state agen­cies admin­is­ter dif­fer­ent pro­grams, and these agen­cies do not share data or track out­comes in a uni­form way.

Using a pub­licly avail­able web­site cre­at­ed by ECLDS, the Chil­dren’s Defense Fund-Min­neso­ta pro­duced a report, Eval­u­at­ing Ear­ly Child­hood Pro­gram Access, that details pro­gram par­tic­i­pa­tion among chil­dren of var­i­ous racial and eth­nic groups.

In the state’s farm­ing com­mu­ni­ty of Will­mar, school offi­cials used ECLDS data to iden­ti­fy gaps in preschool access for Lati­no and Soma­li chil­dren. The Will­mar School Dis­trict and Unit­ed Way then expand­ed a home-vis­it pro­gram that pairs edu­ca­tors with Lati­no and Soma­li chil­dren who can­not get to preschool. Dur­ing these vis­its, edu­ca­tors teach the chil­dren and help con­nect their fam­i­lies to need­ed ser­vices. This work is the sub­ject of a Casey-fund­ed video cre­at­ed by the Ear­ly Child­hood Data Col­lab­o­ra­tive in part­ner­ship with the Chil­dren’s Defense Fund-Minnesota.

Beyond Min­neso­ta, Casey’s grant to the Ear­ly Child­hood Data Col­lab­o­ra­tive — a divi­sion of Child Trends that focus­es on help­ing states use inte­grat­ed ear­ly child­hood data as a tool to inform child and fam­i­ly pol­i­cy — sup­ports projects in Mis­sis­sip­pi and Rhode Island.

This work helps to demon­strate the ben­e­fits of link­ing dif­fer­ent sources of data to pre­vent chil­dren from falling through the cracks, not get­ting the right ser­vices or not get­ting any ser­vices,” notes Carlise King, exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Ear­ly Child­hood Data Collaborative.

Watch a video about the ben­e­fits of inte­grat­ed data systems

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