Policy Resource

Data Systems in Early Childhood Systems

Nov 4, 2016

Definition: Connecting data from multiple sources to track progress on indicators and benchmarks related to outcomes for young children and their families. Data can be used to inform planning, policy, and practice decisions.


  • Create data-sharing agreements that meet Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act rules
  • Include home visiting in early childhood data systems
  • Link existing early childhood data systems or develop shared data systems
  • Develop unique identifiers for children and/or families


Through the Early Learning Challenge grant, Illinois is aligning home visiting data elements from various agencies’ data systems.

  • Illinois has a federated data system plan, in which agencies maintain their own databases and all are linked through a Central Demographic Dataset Administrator (under a contract with Northern Illinois University).
  • A pilot project is underway to align home visiting data elements from various agencies’ systems with Common Education Data Standards. Recommendations will be developed from this pilot.


Washington conducted a business case analysis to explore creation of a statewide Universal Developmental Screening Data System that all professionals engaging in screening, including home visitors, could use.

  • The Executive Team who reviewed the business case approved further exploration and information-gathering for the system.
  • Washington is currently collecting information to make a recommendation about the system architecture (new data system, linkages between existing systems, or expanding an existing system).


Pennsylvania is developing a bridge between their home visiting data collection system and early childhood data system.


Vermont is expanding the existing state immunization registry to include developmental screening and referral data and plans to open the registry to medical providers, child care providers, and home visitors.

  • Vermont passed legislation in spring 2016 to allow the immunization registry to be expanded by adding a developmental screening tab.
  • The developmental screening and referral registry will roll out to medical homes first. They eventually want to expand it to child care providers and home visitors, who currently can view but not input data.

Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribes

Choctaw Nation and Salish Kootenai are both exploring the development of shared data systems as a result of TELI (Tribal Early Learning Initiative) partnerships.


Wisconsin is exploring the eventual inclusion of home visiting data in their Early Childhood Integrated Data System.

  • The Early Childhood Integrated Data System is starting with 10 early childhood programs in three agencies.
  • Wisconsin is building the knowledge base, which is a matching tool to link personally identifiable information on the same individual.
  • This is a hybrid federated model, so program data stay in the appropriate agencies and are shared but not pooled in a centralized data warehouse.

White Earth Nation

White Earth Nation has invested in the Rite Track data system to use shared data and decrease duplication of services and staff time.

  • Building on the TELI work, White Earth Nation is implementing WE-CARE (White Earth Coordination, Assessment, Resources, Education), a holistic case management model that is client-focused, client-driven, and requires the client’s input and involvement.
  • The model requires collaboration and communication across all tribal programs working with a child/family and is intended to decrease duplication of services and staff time by using shared data in the tribe’s Rite Track data system.
  • This initiative started with the three tribal early childhood programs (MIECHV, child care, and Head Start/Early Head Start) and is now a tribal-wide initiative.


Iowa is building a home visiting database linked to the Department of Education’s longitudinal data system.

  • The REDCap database houses data for all state and federally funded home visiting programs.
  • Iowa is developing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Education to link to their longitudinal data system.
  • Children participating in home visiting programs will be assigned a unique identifier by the Department of Education.


Utah is implementing an integrated Early Childhood Data System with key data from multiple databases, including home visiting.

  • Utah’s integrated data system allows for data sharing across 35 early childhood programs.
  • A unique identifier will be assigned when a child enters any government-funded early childhood program.