The counts lay the foundation for future research and are key for helping inform state policy and resource allocation.
Led by a team from the Northern Illinois University (NIU) Center for Governmental Studies and Education Systems Center at NIU and funded by a federal Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five grant, the Unduplicated Counts Project links data across state agency systems to establish unduplicated counts of children ages birth through five receiving selected publicly funded early childhood services administered by the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). This iteration of the Project is the first to expand beyond child care and preschool to incorporate data describing receipt of home visiting and special education services, and the overall work represents a key marker of progress for longitudinal data systems building and integration efforts in Illinois.
Project findings include counts and proportions of children served during the years 2016, 2017, and 2018 (July 1 to June 30). Findings focus on specific populations served by various programs, including the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), Prevention Initiative (PI), and Preschool for All (PFA). Example findings are below; check out the full report for all Project findings.
Proportion of children ages birth to three served by CCAP, PI, or both, 2016-2018
Proportion of children ages three to five served by CCAP, PFA, or both, 2016-2018
1. Treat Project findings as a marker of progress
The early childhood community should consider Project findings as evidence of the progress of the ILDS and its participating agencies. Now incorporating records from over a half-dozen different early childhood programs, administered by two different agencies, the Project represents a key ILDS achievement. Its findings inform policymaking and reflect systemic data improvements within and across DHS and ISBE.
2. Act on the P-20 Council’s Education & Workforce Data Task Force recommendations
State agencies and other stakeholders should consider the P-20 Council’s Education and Workforce Data Task Force a call to continue strengthening inter- and intra-agency data systems. In one of its spring 2019 final report recommendations, the Task Force recommends improving State data capacity and quality. Enhancing capacity and quality remains challenging in early childhood, but imminent federal grant investments should expedite ecosystem-wide efforts over the next several years.
3. Incorporate Early Head Start and Head Start data
Future iterations of the Project should incorporate data from Head Start and Early Head Start. These programs serve a substantial number of children under the age of five in Illinois, including many children who are served by multiple publicly funded services. Establishing Head Start-inclusive unduplicated counts would mark a major achievement for inter-agency data sharing in Illinois, and it would position the state as a leader in the early childhood data systems space. Currently pursuing data vendor-specific pilot integrations, IHSA and CPRD appear well positioned to share Early Head Start and Head Start data soon.
4. Enhance Project with data better describing DHS and ISBE programs
The Project should add and disaggregate data that better describe the selected DHS and ISBE early childhood programs. Pending data availability and quality, suggested enhancements include:
- Disaggregating counts by type of provider setting;
- Ensuring systematic incorporation of records from both contracted and non-contracted CCAP providers;
- Expanding analysis of home visiting programs;
- Distinguishing between PI center-based and home visiting services; and
- Enhancing integration and analysis of IDEA Part B, Section 619 data.
Acknowledgments and Disclaimers
This publication was made possible by Grant Number 90TP0001-01-00 from the Office of Child Care, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Office of Child Care, the Administration for Children and Families, or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.