Wisconsin's Early Childhood Integrated Data System (ECIDS) Project (formerly EC LDS)

The overall purpose of Wisconsin's Early Childhood Longitudinal Data System (EC LDS) is the following:

"Wisconsin will be able to measure child outcomes across systems to evaluate young children’s progress and inform policy decisions."

Initial Steps:  Feasibility Study

In 2009 Wisconsin was awarded a grant which included a proposal to conduct a feasibility study around Early Childhood data and make recommendations for a future build of the EC LDS.   The cross-agency collaborative team accomplished all objectives listed in the 2011-2012 Feasibility Study Project Charter within the grant time period.  More information about the grant can be found on the SLDS 2009 ARRA Grant Info page.  The Feasibility Study Project Charter describes the work to be completed in detail.

*ECDC  -  The Early Childhood Data Collaborative, a consortium of national organizations working to help states build, link, and use early childhood data systems, has developed guidelines defining a well-crafted EC LDS.  Partner organizations in the Early Childhood Data Collaborative include the Council of Chief State School Officers, Center for the Study of Child Care Employment at UC Berkeley, Data Quality Campaign, National Center for Children in Poverty at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, National Conference of State Legislatures, National Governors Association for Best Practices, and Pre-K Now at the Pew Center on the States.

Feasibility Study Notable Outcomes

  • Initial Key Policy Questions Identified
    • Are children, birth through age five, on track to succeed when they enter school and beyond?
    • Which children have access to high-quality early care and education programs?
    • Is the quality of programs improving?
    • What are the characteristics of effective programs?
    • How prepared is the early care and education workforce to provide effective education and care for all children?
    • What policies and investments lead to a skilled and stable early care and education workforce?
    • Are children, birth to age 5, on track to succeed when they enter school and beyond?
    • Which children and families are and are not being served by which programs/services?
    • Which children have access to high-quality early childhood programs and services?
    • What characteristics of programs are associated with positive child outcomes for which children?
    • What are the education and economic returns on early childhood investments?


  • Data Roundtable Held

A Data Roundtable was held on February 22, 2012.  The Data Roundtable served as a gathering of this project’s extended group of Wisconsin stakeholders and involved.  It included a presentation by national experts Elliot Regenstein, Susan Illgen, and Missy Cochenour and also provided an opportunity for the attendees to join with other professionals who manage programs designed for better outcomes for young children and influence the direction of the use and governance of this data.​  The Report of the Wisconsin Data Roundtable  outlines the outcomes of the day and includes recommendations for moving the project forward.  A list of underlying questions was developed as well.

In addition, state (Maryland, Colorado, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New York) and local efforts (Milwaukee, Racine, Brown County, Chippewa Falls) to build an EC LDS were identified.  In conducting the efforts of this project, the team should continue to monitor, consult, and collaborate with these ongoing efforts in order to maximize effectiveness and avoid duplication of system building efforts.

  • Data Survey was Conducted

A Data Survey completed by data experts across various state agency programs/source systems was developed and used to gather the information on availability of various data elements available within the Current WI Landscape today.  Guidance from the ECDC, which has identified potential Fundamental Elements of a Coordinated State ECE Data System, has been considered in developing the data survey. Guidance from the WI School Readiness Indicator Initiative Steering Committee has also been incorporated in the development of the data survey, through the use of the indicators recommended in The Status of School Readiness Indicators In Wisconsin.  The data elements which will answer the underlying questions uncovered in the February 22, 2012 Data Roundtable sessions have been be incorporated into the survey, as well as public comments gathered during the August 11, 2011 WECCP Videoconference Survey.

Please see the WI Data Survey Summary Spreadsheet for the results of the survey to see what data is available across the DCF, DHS and DPI Programs/Systems.  

  • Recommendations Made, Initial Work Plan Developed

The topics of Capacity, Unique identifiers, Data Governance, Stakeholder Involvement, Potential System Architecture and Sustainability have been studied by various Project Team Workgroups.  Recommendation papers on these topics have been prepared and approved by the feasibility study project team members, as well as some papers requested by and circulated to the Governor's ECAC for comment.

DPI Briefing - Feasibility Study Project Overview (DPI Department Briefing)

DCF Briefing - Feasibility Study Project Overview (DCF Department Briefing)

DHS Briefing - Feasibility Study Project Overview (DHS Department Briefing)

Communication Plan - Feasibility Study Project Communication Plan

Work Plan - Feasibility Study Project Work Plan

EC LDS Timeline - Visual Summary of Feasibility Study Project Work Plan

Next Steps:  Design, Build and Implementation 

Wisconsin was one of 5 states to receive the Round Two Race To The Top - Early Learning Challenge Federal Grant (RTTT).  With a budget of $9.4M, Wisconsin is well equipped to move forward with the incremental design and build of an EC LDS over the four year period of the grant (2013-2016).

The EC LDS project is unique in that not only will the longitudinal view of the educational data be enhanced, but the EC LDS will also broaden the base of EC data by extending data linkages between the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI), the Department of Children and Families (DCF) and the Department of Health Services (DHS).  In addition the work is supported by the Wisconsin Governor’s Early Childhood Advisory Council (ECAC) and Collaborating Partners.  Read the grant application for more information.

Project Overview

Establishment of an EC LDS as an integrated information exchange over the silo-ed agency datasets is and continues to be considered a critical system need.  This project going forward will enhance existing early childhood data collection efforts and design the architecture to link key early childhood care and education data collections.  The project will create Early Childhood (birth through age 5) data linkages between the Department of Public Instruction (DPI), the Department of Health Services (DHS) and the Department of Children and Families (DCF).  The goal of the eventual data linkage effort is to broaden the base of shared information about pre-school children and to link that EC data to the existing K-12 LDS data.   Consequently, this project will support ways to connect data from YoungStar with education and health outcome data, and additional service participation data for the same children at DPI and DHS. It will also support efforts to strengthen and link related data systems at DCF, including YoungStar, Wisconsin Shares (Wisconsin’s child care subsidy program), and Child Welfare. DHS will build an Early Childhood Division of Public Health Customer Hub for facilitating data linkages.  

RTTT - ELC EC LDS Kick-Off Meeting Presentation - April 9, 2013

RTTT - ELC EC LDS Data Governance Orientation Workshop Agenda - June 27, 2013

RTTT - ELC EC LDS Data Governance Orientation Workshop Presentation - June 27, 2013

RTTT - ELC EC LDS Entity Resolution Tool (ERT) Project Kick-Off Meeting Presentation

RTTT - ELC EC LDS Entity Resolution Tool (ERT) Project Charter

For more information on the RTTT ECIDS grant, please contact the DPI Portfolio Manager at syed.qasim@dpi.wi.gov or the DCF Grant Manager at amanda.reeve@wisconsin.gov.

Resources Reviewed
2010 ECAC Early Childhood System Assessment
IRP Lessons Learned Document:  “Lessons Learned in the Development of the Institute for Research on Poverty’s Multi-Sample Person File (MSPF) Data System
Foster Care (Out of Home) 2012 Study
Foster Care (Out of Home) 2012 Report Card

Many Missing Pieces; The Difficult Task of Linking Early Childhood Data and School-Based Data System  http://www.newamerica.net/pressroom/2010/many_missing_pieces

Building Blocks for Wisconsin’s Future:  The Foundation for an Early Childhood System  http://dcf.wisconsin.gov/ecac/pdf/report.pdf
2010 Wisconsin Early Childhood System Assessment Reporthttp://dcf.wisconsin.gov/ecac/pdf/assessment_report.pdf
Wisconsin’s Early Care and Education Landscape: Planning for a Coherent System  http://www.wccf.org/pdf/ece_planning_system_11-2009.pdf
WI School Readiness Indicator Initiative Steering Committee:  Wisconsin School Readiness Indicator initiative --  The Status of School Readiness Indicators In Wisconsin (September 2003)  http://www.wccf.org/pdf/WSRII.pdf


For questions about this information, contact Melissa Straw (608) 266-1089