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Childcare.gov Project

Overview

The CCDBG Reauthorization Act of 2014 includes a requirement to design and develop a national website to disseminate publicly available child care consumer education information for parents.  The information on the website will help parents access safe and quality child care services in their community and provide links to their state or territory child care website. ChildCare.gov will rely on publicly available information provided by State and Territory child care agencies’ consumer education websites.

This resource page highlights existing technical resources and documentation related to child care system information technology, data systems, and data governance that State and Territories can use to support integration of  data sets and systems that may be used to meet the requirements for their consumer education websites as described in the CCDBG Final Rule and the Federal Register.

Intended Audience

This resource page is intended for Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) Administrators, the systems planners and integrated project teams they will engage to design and build their child care consumer education websites and provider search functions, These integrated planning and project teams work best when they include 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  who understand the program and policy considerations associated with child care consumer education. 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 their websites. ChildCare.gov will link to State websites to provide information that originates close to the local community.  The roadmap is broken into five steps and identifies key considerations, staff to involve, and resources for each step. Each step may be repeated as necessary to plan and implement, maintain, and expand State and Territory consumer education websites and individual provider searches.

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.

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Step 2. 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 consumer education websites and search functions, how the elements align with the suggested data standards, and data gaps that you may consider addressing over time.

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Step 3. 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. 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 consumer education websites. 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 your consumer education website and provider search function.

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Step 4. Plan for Automation: Outline and prepare for automating the process of sharing of child care provider data with child care search functions.

Develop and implement a plan for automating the process of sharing child care provider data with consumer education websites and search functions. In order for the data displayed to remain in sync with what State and Territory child care databases, the data will need to be shared at least daily. A CSV file transfer via a secure file transfer protocol that could be updated nightly (or less frequently), and an application program interface (API) could be used to update upon each search request automatically.

Step 5. Plan for Maintenance and Support: Outline and prepare plans for ongoing maintenance and support of the website and search tool.

Develop and implement a plan for ongoing maintenance and support of your data connection 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.

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For More Information

Please see the Office of Child Care National Website and Hotline Project page. For questions or comments, please contact Paula Bendl Smith at paula.smith@acf.hhs.gov.

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