Using Data: Tools and Resources for Collaborations

December 19, 2018

Father and Son Looking at Photos

On August 29, 2017, Partner Plan Act hosted a webinar called Data-Driven Community Planning. This was a follow-up to a conference presentation by Dawn Thomas from Illinois Early Childhood Asset Map (IECAM), and Agnes Markos and Renee Tetrick from Illinois Action for Children (IAFC).

The purpose of the webinar was to share information and tools for collaborations to use data in their community planning. The presenters asked participants, How do you want to use data to understand community needs? Click here to view the webinar.

Collaborations and Data

Building the knowledge and skills to access the data is important for local collaborations. Discussing and understanding the data together helps communities plan more effectively and make decisions. Data use in community planning is most successful when collaborations ask good data questions and make meaning of the data together.

Trusted resources, such as the Illinois Early Childhood Asset Map, or IECAM, is one resource collaborations may use to gather important data.

IECAM is a state-funded resource designed to:

  • Assist policy makers and legislators in allocating resources for early care and education programs;
  • Make public resource allocation transparent by showing the changes in funding of services from year to year;
  • Provide a one-stop source for early learning and demographic data.

Tips for Success Together

  • Step 1: Identify the problem, issue or vision together
  • Step 2: Identify data needed to inform problem, issue or vision
  • Step 3: Access the data in IECAM or other resource
  • Step 4: Making meaning of the data together
  • Step 5: Prepare data for use in strategy design together

Data Resources for Collaborations

IAFC’s Agnes Markos developed a data toolkit and resource from data collection work led in partnership with the Innovation Zone communities. This tool makes it easy for communities to search and find community level data. The tool also populates data into charts and graphs ready for use planning and decision-making. In addition, the tool allows collaborations in local level data collection on enrollment of priority populations in early learning programs.

IECAM also provides early childhood data throughout the state in the form of tables and maps. Upon request, IECAM can help create customized data and maps. Visit IECAM here.

Contact IECAM for help with the following:

  • Data needs and/or questions
  • Customized maps
  • Training opportunities
  • Demonstration of the web site
  • Data resources

Some key takeaways to remember:

  • The data are just a starting point and need to be supplemented by local knowledge.
  • Communities know the people, the problems, and the practical solutions needed.
  • Local conversations between programs, agencies, and community officials are most important.

Additional resources