Data plays a crucial role in decision-making processes. It helps businesses, organizations, and policymakers make informed choices that benefit people. However, communities that are underrepresented in data sets are often left out of decision-making processes that directly impact their lives. ECIDS—Early Childhood Integrated Data Systems—can bring attention to these communities and provide data that would usually be unavailable. Let’s take a closer look at how ECIDS can help communities that might otherwise be left out of some data sets and therefore under-counted in decision-making processes.
ECIDS is a collection of early childhood data that’s linked across multiple agencies, including healthcare, education, and social services. This information is essential in making informed policy decisions, programs, and services. Without ECIDS, it’s challenging to fill data gaps that exist in underserved communities, given that many administrative data systems do not reliably capture this information for children receiving early childhood services, let alone for the broader child population.
Nevertheless, all decision-makers will want to consider the impact of policy and program administration on specific communities, so this information must be integrated with analysis regardless of challenges in data availability. 3Si undertook one such analysis that leveraged CUSP (the Child Universal Success Platform—3Si’s ECDS solution), to support preschool facility expansion investments in King County, Washington. In partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Ballmer Group, 3Si worked collaboratively with dozens of early childhood practitioners and advocates . Together we modeled the child population and looked pointedly at disparities in child care access specifically among children of color (shown in the figure below).
The findings in King County were staggering. Black, African American, Hispanic, Latino, American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Island populations were two to three times as likely to live in extreme access deserts in King County as the white and Asian child populations. This information was used to inform advocacy work and practical implementation of Early Child Care Facilities Investment Strategy operated under a fund called the Puget Sound Taxpayer Accountability Account (PSTAA).
In summary, ECIDS solutions like CUSP can account for important dimensions of data even when these data are not immediately available. Doing so will help overcome data gaps that exists between underrepresented communities and decision-makers. With these systems, we can focus on the specific issues faced by different communities and inform the development of programs and services to address those issues. We have seen the benefits of what ECIDS can do in King County, Washington, and we hope that more communities will start investing in ECIDS to serve the unique needs of their populations.