A guide for state policymakers to integrate home visiting data with early childhood data
This webpage can help state policymakers who want to integrate home visiting and early childhood data to better serve young children. Integrating data across early childhood programs gives program staff and administrators, policymakers, and researchers a more comprehensive picture of which children are being served, and where (what settings) they are served. While some states have taken significant steps to integrate data across many early childhood programs, home visiting data have seldom been included in these efforts.
This page offers a high-level overview for administrators on how to begin the data integration process. Specifically, administrators can begin integrating home visiting data with other early childhood data by strategically preparing for the data integration process, ensuring the security and privacy of sensitive data, and collaborating with stakeholders across sectors.
Preparing to integrate data
To begin integrating home visiting data with other early childhood data, we recommend you:
Decide which policy question to answer.
To guide the integration process, determine which policy question you want to answer first. Depending on the policy question, you can examine data across home visiting models, home visiting data with other early childhood services, or longitudinal data.
Examples of questions states can answer by integrating early childhood data:
- Across home visiting models: What is the income status of families receiving home visiting programs statewide?
- With other early childhood data: How many children with a developmental delay received both early intervention and home visiting services?
- With longitudinal data: Is there a connection between home visiting participation and kindergarten readiness?
Our brief, Developing Policy Questions to Guide Integration of Home Visiting and Other Early Childhood Data, offers more examples of policy questions and how states can integrate home visiting data to answer them.
Identify where home visiting data are stored.
Identify which organizations (e.g., public agencies, nonprofits, private organizations) store these data and at what level (state or local):
- Compile a list of home visiting programs.
- Identify which data are available and whether they are already linked with other early childhood data.
- Create a visual display of the available data and data linkages.
Identifying Home Visiting Data to Integrate with Other Early Childhood Data provides a sample worksheet for state administrators to gather information about home visiting data.
Identify the types of data systems in which home visiting data are stored.
Home visiting data are often stored in a variety of data systems (e.g., homegrown data systems, electronic spreadsheets, paper forms), which affects how you can integrate and use the data.
Navigating Data Systems When Integrating Home Visiting Data outlines recommendations for state administrators about how to integrate home visiting data that are stored in different data systems.
Determine which data to integrate first.
Another way states can begin the integration process is to integrate one aspect of home visiting data at a time, rather than tackling the process all at once. This will allow states to integrate the data slowly and develop best practices.
For example, you can start by integrating data from single locations, funding sources, models, or programs. You can also start by integrating data that will enable you to answer a single research or policy question.
One Step at a Time: The Benefits of an Incremental Approach to the Integration of Home Visiting and Other Early Childhood Data highlights examples from several states at the initial stages of their data integration process. For example, Rhode Island started by integrating home visiting data with child welfare data, which will help state officials understand whether children enrolled in home visiting programs are less likely to be involved in the child welfare system.
Protecting sensitive data
State administrators must ensure the right protections are in place when data are being integrated. To protect sensitive or identifiable information, you should take the following steps.
Ensure the security and privacy of shared data.
You should understand the different types of authorities (such as federal and state laws, state data governance authorities, etc.) that oversee home visiting data so you can determine which data privacy regulations or requirements you need to follow.
Our brief, Privacy and Security Considerations When Integrating Home Visiting Data, lists questions data integration leaders can pose to federal, state, and local authorities to understand their data security and privacy requirements.
Obtain the necessary permissions and consent.
You may need to obtain consent from individuals or organizations that provide and/or own the data before integrating and sharing these data with others. As a starting point, you should:
- Determine whether consent is required with the data you wish to integrate.
- Determine who must be consented, and how, and who will obtain consent.
- Review existing documentation (e.g., current consent forms or data-sharing agreements) and make revisions as necessary.
- Communicate clearly and consistently to all stakeholders about the consent process.
Steps for Obtaining Consent from Stakeholders to Share Home Visiting Data includes a template with sample language that states can use as a reference to develop consent forms for families to share their data with other organizations.
Collaborating with stakeholders
Successful data integration requires that a diverse group of stakeholders work together. You should collaborate with other stakeholders to:
Identify funding sources.
Data integration can be expensive, so it may be necessary to work with others to ensure sufficient funding for the data integration process. When determining how to finance data integration, you should:
- Ensure the allocation of funds for data system planning.
- Consider ways to leverage large data infrastructures.
- Ensure sufficient budget for staffing to support data integration work.
- Identify ongoing funding for analysis and use of collected data.
Strategies for Financing the Integration of Home Visiting and Early Childhood Data Systems provides tips on identifying funding sources for integrating home visiting data and includes strategies that states have used to finance the integration process. For example, Georgia used funding from both the Child Care and Development Fund and the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge to develop and expand its early childhood integrated data system.
Coordinate efforts to engage stakeholders across sectors.
Building support for home visiting data integration requires the involvement of a wide range of stakeholders, including families, home visiting model developers, researchers, and legislators. To effectively coordinate data integration efforts with all groups, you need to:
- Identify relevant stakeholders.
- Determine the types of information to share with and solicit from stakeholders.
- Choose when to engage stakeholders in the process.
Engaging Stakeholders in Home Visiting Data Integration Efforts offers details on collaborating with stakeholders to build support for and inform the data integration process.
Identify individuals to govern the use of integrated data.
States need a governance body that includes individuals with the appropriate expertise and knowledge of home visiting data. To determine how best to govern home visiting data integration efforts, you can:
- Determine whether the state has an existing data governance structure.
- Consult with existing home visiting groups about how to represent home visiting in these structures.
- Determine the level of decision-making authority the home visiting representative has within existing or new governance structures.
Including Home Visiting Programs in Early Childhood Data Governance Bodies outlines steps for integrating home visiting stakeholders into new or existing governance structures.