Integrated data can help states better respond to and recover from crises like COVID-19
The COVID-19 crisis has caused millions of children and youth to experience severe disruptions in child care, learning accommodations, health services, behavioral counseling, and economic supports. Now more than ever, data are essential to helping policymakers and administrators understand the needs in their states, including helping families access services. Specifically, integrated data—which links data from two or more sources—is a key tool in answering critical policy, program, and research questions about children and families and the services they receive. For example, connecting data between licensed child care facilities and children receiving subsidized child care is essential for identifying supply and demand of child care during state shutdowns and as states reopen. Although states may face diminished budgets in the years to come, this is the time for all states to begin building integrated data systems.
State policymakers and program administrators need access to reliable and continuous data about early childhood services to understand what services have been disrupted, where services are most urgently needed, and how to deploy resources during and after the crisis to best support children and families. States with an early childhood integrated data system (ECIDS) have access to more comprehensive data, which can provide them with: