Integrated Early Childhood Data

Early Childhood Data Governance

Data governance is both an organizational process and structure that supports management of collective data, including availability, usability, quality, and security of data through creation and enforcement of roles, responsibilities, policies, and procedures. South Carolina’s Early Childhood Advisory Council houses a Data Governance Coordinator, who is responsible for strategic planning, stakeholder engagement, and data governance efforts to achieve alignment and integration across early childhood programs in South Carolina.

A typical data governance structure for an Early Childhood Integrated Data System (ECIDS) looks like the figure here. However, we have learned that no two states are alike. One of the first things the Data Governance Coordinator will facilitate is the establishment of a governance structure that works for South Carolina’s Early Childhood System and leverages existing state entities.

On April 15th, 2021, the Early Childhood Advisory Council approved a motion to “serve as the governing body for Early Childhood System Data Governance, including staffing these efforts, as outlined in the framework.”


Potential data governance structure

Early Childhood Data Governance Resources

ECIDS Toolkit

National Center for Education Statistics at the Institute of Education Sciences

Forming Key Questions for Early Childhood Integrated Data

To build a useful integrated data system, it is best to first establish a set of key questions that will drive everything. The starting point for the key questions came out of the 2019 Birth through Five Statewide Needs Assessment, funded by Preschool Development Grant. Three data collection strategies, which engaged more than 5,000 people, were used to determine statewide priorities/needs in three areas (early learning and development; health and well-being; family and community):

  • 15 regional meetings were held across the state with 440 participants
  • 3,114 online survey responses focused on priorities of parents/caregivers
  • 1,495+ people engaged in approximately 130 focus groups across all counties focused on engaging families/ caregivers and young children

Potential Key Questions

  • What are the characteristics and where are the vulnerable and underserved children and families?
    • Including a specific focus on rural areas in SC, minority communities, undocumented families
  • Who and where are the children being served and those awaiting services? (unduplicated counts and waitlists)
  • Are South Carolina’s children, starting at birth, on track to succeed?
    • Are they ready for kindergarten/demonstrate readiness in multiple domains?
  • Where are the children located who are receiving necessary support services to ensure school readiness and success?
    • Are services available, and are families using them?
    • Are there other opportunities, programs, and services they are eligible to participate in?
  • What is the availability of high-quality early childhood education services and where are they located?
    • Are there differences in availability for different age groups? (specifically, infant care)
    • Are there differences in availability and support for children with special needs and behavior challenges?
  • What are the rates of successful transitions across programs, along the continuum of birth through-five services?

Process for finalizing key questions

Considerations from the system’s end users will inform various phases of the development of the integrated data system to ensure that end users’ needs are being met in the design and implementation of the system. The potential key questions have been presented to various groups of stakeholders across the state to garner feedback, including program administrators, educators, families and caregivers, policymakers, and researchers to modify the list based on their specific needs. The potential key questions will also be brought to the Interagency Collaboration Committee for discussion in May 2021.

If you have any feedback or suggestions on the potential key questions, please send it to Justina Siuba, the Data Governance Coordinator.

These potential key questions will continue to be refined in the coming weeks, with hopes of being adopted along with the mission and vision for the Early Childhood System by the governing body.

South Carolina Early Learning Extension of the K-12 Statewide Longitudinal Data System

One of the first products of the Early Childhood Data Governance will be the South Carolina Early Learning Extension (SCELE) of the K-12 Statewide Longitudinal Data System. Its mission is to improve outcomes for young children and their families through an aligned system for data-informed decisions and policies. The SCELE will provide insight into utilization of early childhood care and education programs and articulate the return on public investment in early childhood to better understand their impact and to build the case for more long-term investment.

The SC Early Learning Extension will be able to answer key questions about children while they were enrolled in early childhood care and education programs. This will connect with the existing state K-12 Statewide Longitudinal Data System (SLDS) to link early childhood care and education programs to K-12 outcomes. 



    • Establish and operationalize sustainable, flexible Data Governance
    • Finalize key questions
    • Conduct a data discovery, including a review of data dictionaries to identify data elements to integrate
    • Establish data sharing agreements to answer key questions
    • Explore and begin to build technical infrastructure


    • Refine Data Governance & technical infrastructure
    • Develop one use case that demonstrates how to answer one of the key questions using integrated data

Early 2024

    • Create publicly available reports/dashboards and research request process/portal


South Carolina received a $3.3 million federal grant in March of 2020 to build the Early Learning Extension. The Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) Grant Program awarded the funds competitively based on South Carolina’s plan to extend its existing K-12 data system to early childhood programs, and to make the information more accessible to the public. The four-year grant is part of a national effort to help states and educators better understand what works for students and facilitate research to increase student achievement and narrow achievement gaps.

The described project and publications are made possible by the Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems Grant Program, Grant Number R372A200048, from the U.S. Department of Education.

Other Early Childhood Data-related Projects

RFA State Data Warehouse

  • Bringing in new early childhood program inputs (e.g., federal and local funded home visiting)
  • Leveraging inputs and outcomes already in
  • Supported by the Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five Initiative (PDG B-5), Grant Number 90TP0080-01-00, from the Office of Child Care, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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