Data is the Future

September 16, 2021 | By Child Care Aware of Kansas

By Teri Garstka, Associate Director, KU Center for Public Partnerships for the Spring 2021 Issue of Kansas Child magazine.

It’s an exciting time to be a data enthusiast in Kansas!  

We all want Kansas to be the best state for families to raise a child. To get there, we need the best possible information guiding our collective work.  

Reliable, high-quality data — thoughtfully connected across services, agencies, and systems — can tell us what’s working for children and families in Kansas, sharpen our focus, and expand our perspective of what’s possible. 

Fortunately, Kansas is rich in early childhood data. Now we must turn that wealth of data into action for all Kansas children, families, providers, and communities. The “All in For Kansas Kids Strategic Plan,” published by the Kansas Children’s Cabinet and Trust Fund, maps out the path ahead.  

If you’ve heard of the Early Childhood Integrated Data System (ECIDS), you may have imagined a complicated data system with APIs and data warehouses and IT programmers working day and night. The reality is much simpler. 

The Kansas ECIDS is built upon responsible data governance among agencies and partners through the Kansas Early Childhood Data Trust. This structure outlines the legal requirements and ethical framework guiding data-sharing between members.  

Varied funding sources for targeted data-sharing projects result in a more sustainable and nimble infrastructure footprint. This allows Kansas to prioritize what matters most – meaningful insights that enrich our children’s first five years and beyond. 

“Kansas has an important opportunity now to share information across our agencies to better serve children and families in our state,” says Melissa Rooker, executive director of the Kansas Children’s Cabinet and Trust Fund. “We’re proud to help lead these efforts.” 

In my role at the KU Center for Public Partnerships and Research, I’ll be spending the next few years making integrated early childhood data a reality here in Kansas. I hope you’ll join me on the data journey ahead.