Many states do not have linked data systems to fully understand needs of young children

October 5, 2018

A new report from the Early Childhood Data Collaborative finds that a majority of states do not link data in a way that gives them a complete understanding of the effectiveness of government-funded programs and interventions aimed at young children. This means that many state policymakers lack the comprehensive child-, family-, program-, and workforce-level data needed to assess and improve policies and programs that support children from birth to age eight.

The report synthesizes a 50-state survey about how individual states coordinate early care and education data systems, providing a snapshot of current state data practices. The report finds that, as of 2018:

  • Only 22 states link data about children’s growth and development across early care and education (ECE) programs (WI, WA, MN, IL, MI, MA, OH, PA, NJ, CT, RI, UT, CO, NE, MD, NM, KS, NC, OK, LA, MS, GA)
  • Only 8 states link data about children’s growth and development with data about their health (WI, VT, MN, UT, PA, RI, OK, MS)
  • Only 22 states link data from ECE programs with K-12 data systems (WI, WA, MN, IL, MI, MA, PA, CT, RI, UT, CO, NE, VA, MD, AZ, KS, AR, SC, OK, MS, AL, GA)
  • Only 11 states link data from ECE programs with data from social services that serve children (including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, child welfare programs, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and housing assistance programs) (WI, VT, MN, PA, KY, MD, AR, NC, OK, MS, AL)

“To make sure all children get the support they need, policymakers need comprehensive data on which services reach which children,” said Carlise King, the executive director of the Early Childhood Data Collaborative. “By integrating early childhood data across programs and agencies, policymakers can answer questions that can’t be answered by a single program’s data. For example, with a fully integrated data system, they can understand which children access early care and education programs, which children’s health needs aren’t being met, which children need more resources, and which children live in areas where there are no resources.”

In addition to showing the current state of early care and education data systems, the report examines how states’ capacity for early childhood data integration changed from 2013 to 2018. For example, the number of states that link child-level data from subsidized child care programs funded by the Child Care and Development Block Grant increased from 12 in 2013 to 17 in 2018. However, the number of states with a defined data governance body to support the coordination and use of early care and education data decreased from 32 in 2013 to 22 in 2018.

The comprehensive picture provided by a coordinated early childhood data system enables policymakers to more effectively allocate resources and support programs serving young children. It also helps them track progress over time, so they can know whether they are headed in the right direction and when they need to make adjustments. Policymakers can support data coordination by strengthening their state’s capacity to link data across state and federal ECE programs and by expanding efforts to collect and link data about the early childhood workforce.

View or download your state’s full profile at

About the Early Childhood Data Collaborative

The Early Childhood Data Collaborative (ECDC) supports state policymakers’ development and use of coordinated state early care and education data systems. It believes that by more effectively using, sharing, and connecting data, states can improve the quality of ECE programs, improve the training and quality of the early childhood workforce, increase access to high-quality ECE programs for all families, and improve child outcomes. To learn more about ECDC, its partners, and work, please visit: