What is an ECIDS?

Young kids take part in various programs to help ensure healthy development, to get them ready for the classroom, and to help families needing child care. Because these programs often have their own data systems, policymakers, program administrators, and researchers often don’t have a complete picture of these various programs, making it hard to address broader questions that require a more holistic view. 

An Early Childhood Integrated Data System (ECIDS) collects information across early childhood offerings in a state to report metrics securely. Such systems include information on the children themselves, their families, classrooms, programs, and the professionals within them. Together, these data provide insights that are not possible to derive from a single program’s records alone. For example:

  • How many kids receive services from one program? 
  • How much access two or more? What are the combinations? 
  • What percentage of children and families can access full-day, year-round, high-quality child care? Does access vary by child or family characteristics? 
  • How many children are eligible for funded (i.e., subsidized) early childhood programs but are not receiving them?
  • If a child or family qualifies for aid, what other help might they be eligible for?

ECIDS helps program policymakers and administrators make better choices to improve child outcomes and bolster adequate support for families. Building and utilizing such a system requires collaboration across agencies supported by modern technology and software to better support kids and families. Beyond contributing information, these partners use integrated data and reports to improve performance, revise policies, assess outcomes, and strengthen coordination. 

Researchers are another key user group. They leverage the data to help states design and evaluate programs plus analyze policy impacts. These systems link children’s information over time, helping to answer questions like, “How does participation in early childhood services relate to longer-term developmental and academic outcomes?”

In these ways, integrated early childhood data systems support children’s learning and growth. By tracking experiences over time, states can make informed decisions to help all kids thrive.

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