Early Childhood Data Development In the Works

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North Carolina is fortunate to have several collaborative leaders who are working to improve the collection, sharing and use of early childhood data in the state. The NC Early Childhood Data Advisory Council (ECDAC) includes many of these experts who span various sectors and systems supporting young children and families.

The ECDAC met recently to continue their task of providing strategic direction to improve the quality and scope of early childhood data in North Carolina, and to support the analysis and use of early childhood data by policymakers and other decision-makers. Read highlights from their quarterly meeting below:

Updates to the NC Early Childhood Integrated Data System 

The NC Early Childhood Integrated Data System (ECIDS), managed by NC Department of Health and Human Services’ (NCDHHS) Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE), is the single source for integrated early childhood data for selected education, health and social services (e.g., NC Pre-K, Subsidized Child Care, Child Protective Services). ECIDS is currently being updated to improve the use of its data to inform policy and program decisions impacting young children and families. For example, ECIDS will include new way for researchers to request child-specific data. Dr. Tanya Morgan, ECIDS Project Manager, reviewed ECIDS’ infrastructure and a timeline for revisions. The ECDAC and NC ECIDS Governance Council, also joining the meeting, discussed proposed changes to how frequently data will be refreshed. 

New Data Tools from DCDEE

Justine Rogoff, DCDEE’s new Early Childhood Data and Policy Analyst, shared DCDEE’s plans to release a public administrative data dashboard by the end of the year to help improve data transparency and access to frequently requested information. The dashboard will provide new data visuals and downloadable aggregated datasets (de-identified) to public users. DCDEE is also creating a COVID-19 Data Story that will document the Division’s data response to the pandemic in a downloadable report. 

Developing Processes for the NC Early Learning Inventory 

Dan Tetreault from the NC Department of Public Instruction’s (NCDPI) Office of Early Learning discussed how they will be working with the Center for Education Measurement and Evaluation at UNC-Charlotte and a group of diverse stakeholders—including early educators—in a standard setting process for the NC Early Learning Inventory (ELI); the state’s new kindergarten entry assessment based on fourteen Teaching Strategies GOLD dimensions. Part of this work, taking place over the next year, will be to develop a process for determining a kindergarten “readiness indicator” for state reporting for the 2021-22 school year. 

Progress with Child Care Data Development

NCECF provided an update on workgroup planning to develop data for two child care measures included in the ECDAC’s Data Development Strategy

    1. Children under age 6 receiving child care subsidies, disaggregated by race/ethnicity and income, and 
    2. Families paying 10 percent or less of their income on child care, disaggregated by race/ethnicity, income, and age of child. 

The child care subsidy measure is currently under development at DCDEE and should be available disaggregated by race/ethnicity, income, and potentially by county level in the near future. The family income measure requires further exploration as data are not currently available for NC families paying privately for child care. Other opportunities to obtain this data, such as incorporating questions in other statewide parent survey work, are being investigated. 

Other Updates

NCDHHS shared updates to the COVID-19 NC Data Dashboard, including some new data that will be added for pediatric populations, such as hospitalizations. Information was also shared about how Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds can be used for early childhood activities, as described in this new resource: How Pandemic Relief for K-12 Education Can Support Early Childhood

The ECDAC is a collaborative effort between the NC Early Childhood Foundation and NCDHHS. It includes members from DHHS divisions, NCDPI, the NC Department of Information Technology, and data researchers and practitioners from outside state government. Learn more about the ECDAC and its members here