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Childcare.gov Project

Overview

The Administration for Children and Families is developing a national child care website (childcare.gov) that is required under the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act of 2014. The vision for childcare.gov is to disseminate family-friendly, publicly available child care consumer education information for parents, providers, and the general public to help families to access safe, high-quality child care services in their communities. The website will be devoted to parents and provide access to a location-based search for child care providers to meet parents’ needs and support States’ and Territories’ efforts to connect families to quality child care. Childcare.gov will rely on publicly available data provided by State and Territory child care agencies, CCDBG grantees, and partner agencies.

This resource page highlights existing technical resources and documentation related to data and information technology topics that State and Territories can use to support the use and integration of child care program data that may be shared with childcare.gov.

Intended Audience

This resource page is intended for Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) Administrators and the systems planners they will want to engage, such as business analysts and information technology analysts who understand the child care data systems and child care search tools used in their States and Territories and staff who understand the program and policy considerations associated with child care consumer education efforts. This group may also include staff or consultants from partner agencies that administer or support State and Territory child care search tools.

Roadmap for Connecting to Childcare.gov

States and Territories can use the following roadmap to plan and implement connections with childcare.gov. The roadmap is broken into eight steps and identifies key considerations, staff to involve, and resources for each step. Each step may be repeated as necessary to plan and implement the initial connection with childcare.gov and also to maintain and expand it over time.

Step 1. Establishing Your State or Territory’s Vision: Develop a clear purpose and vision around consumer education, including a consumer-friendly and easily accessible State website.

Establish a vision for child care consumer education in your State or Territory that includes both short- and long-term goals for meeting CCDF requirements. The vision and related goals will help guide the work of developing your website and search tool and can be modified over time. The process for developing the vision will ideally include partners from each public agency that has responsibilities for providing child care services, as well as key external stakeholders, such as child care resource and referral agencies. If a vision has already been developed, leverage the existing work and make sure that those developing your State or Territory's website and search tool align their work with this vision.

Resources

Step 2. Review Background Materials: Review Getting Ready to Connect and Childcare.gov Draft Data Dictionary.

Review background materials to learn more about the purpose, design features, data requirements, and options available for connecting with childcare.gov. The intended audiences for these materials range from program and policy leadership to technical staff. Program and policy leadership can use Getting Ready to Connect, the Data Dictionary, and the Frequently Asked Questions to develop a high-level understanding of childcare.gov. Technical staff (who may include business analysts, information technology staff, and consultants) can use the Technical Bulletin and the other resources listed to understand the technical specifications associated with sharing data with childcare.gov. Review these documents with internal and external partners to develop a shared understanding of the options available for connecting with childcare.gov.

Resources

Step 3. Conduct Data Inventory: Engage key data partners to take inventory of publicly available data and identify data gaps.

Engage key data partners to take inventory of the data elements that your State or Territory makes or plans to make publicly available to support families in their search for child care. This inventory will help you identify the data elements available to share with childcare.gov, how the elements align with the suggested data standards, and data gaps that you may consider addressing over time. Use the Technical Bulletin and Getting Ready to Connect to conduct this work in partnership with internal and external partners, including those who may hold data in licensing, child care resource and referral, quality rating and improvement, and child care subsidy systems.

Resources

Step 4. Conduct Sample Data Pull: Conduct a sample data pull of publicly available data elements across data partners using a comma separated value (CSV) template.

Conduct a sample data pull of the publicly available data elements that your State or Territory could potentially share with childcare.gov. This sample data pull will allow technical staff across key partner agencies to develop a better understanding of the data requirements related to childcare.gov, to assess the feasibility of transforming data to match the childcare.gov data standards, and to identify potential issues and questions to address with the childcare.gov team. Use the Technical Bulletin and the CSV file template below to conduct this work in partnership with internal and external partners, including those who may hold data in licensing, child care resource and referral, quality rating and improvement, and child care subsidy systems.

Resources

Step 5. Address Data Governance and Privacy: Identify and address issues related to data governance, privacy, quality, and security

Identify and address data governance issues related to sharing data with childcare.gov. For States and Territories with existing search tools, it is likely that governance structures and policies are already in place to govern how data are shared between systems (for example, data quality and integrity policies, data security policies, and data access policies). Reviewing potential issues, policies, and structures will allow technical staff across key partner agencies to determine what changes may need to be made to existing structures and policies to support the aggregation of data and sharing of data with childcare.gov. Use the guidance and resources listed below to review data governance issues in partnership with internal and external partners who will be providing data for submission to childcare.gov.

Resources

Step 6. Plan for Automation: Outline and prepare for automating the process of sharing of child care provider data with childcare.gov.

Develop and implement a plan for automating the process of sharing child care provider data with childcare.gov. In order for the data displayed on childcare.gov to remain in sync with what State and Territory child care search tools display, the data will need to be shared with childcare.gov with the same frequency with which those search tools are updated. Two data sharing options are available: a CSV file transfer via a secure file transfer protocol that could be updated nightly (or less frequently), and an application program interface (API) that could be updated nightly (or more frequently). Technical staff in your agency, in partnership with staff in partner agencies, can use the forthcoming Connecting to Childcare.gov 101 and 201 to determine the data sharing approach that is most feasible for your State or Territory. The Office of Child Care will provide these informational resources later in 2017.

Step 7. Request for Approval: Request approval for submission of data to childcare.gov.

Request approval from the Office of Child Care to begin sharing child care program data with childcare.gov. Once your State or Territory has identified the data elements that will be shared with childcare.gov and has selected an approach for sharing data (CSV file or API), you can begin the Office of Child Care approval process. This process will include a testing routine that will allow technical staff in your agency or partner agencies to ensure that the data transfer successfully and are displayed accurately on childcare.gov. The Office of Child Care will provide additional details on the approval process later in 2017.

Step 8. Plan for Maintenance and Support: Outline and prepare plans for ongoing maintenance and support of the childcare.gov data connection.

Develop and implement a plan for ongoing maintenance and support of the childcare.gov data connection. Maintaining a connection with childcare.gov will require ongoing attention to ensure that processes for sharing the data are efficient, accurate, and secure. Informed by the resources below, program and policy leadership and technical staff should ensure that all the requirements for the data files and transfer mechanism are documented and maintained and that staffing and funding needs are built into ongoing budgets.

Resources

Archived Resources and Materials

Older resources and materials related to a series of listening sessions, family focus groups and other communication and outreach forums to help inform the design are available at https://childcareta.acf.hhs.gov/archived-resources-and-materials.

For More Information

Additional information may be found on the Office of Child Care resource page for childcare.gov at https://www.acf.hhs.gov/occ/Childcaregov-Project.

Please reach out to the childcare.gov project team at askchildcaregov@icf.com.

 

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