15 Collecting Data

All Early Head Start and Head Start agencies collect data or information on a variety of topics as a way of tracking quality and efficacy. The Head Start Program Performance Standards require that each agency establish program goals for improving the school readiness of participating children from birth to five and follow steps to achieve these goals: 45 CFR XIII 1307.3 (b) (1) & (2), as amended. The program goals will determine what tools you use in tracking child development and parent–child interaction, for example.

You are constantly collecting data using these assessment tools and your own observations to help you understand the progress of each child and family and the effectiveness of your work. You collect data on aspects of the home-based model as they are implemented with each family, such as attendance, the content of the visits and socializations, and the demographic and personal characteristics of the families served. You collect data on the child’s growth and development.

The data you collect should be useful. Therefore, you must begin by determining what questions you want answered. You certainly want to know how the child is doing developmentally and in health and growth. Do you want to know how the family is doing on their goals? What is the quality of the parent–child interaction? What about the quality of your own planning and interaction during a home visit? Are families following through on referrals?

The data you collect must be:

  • Relevant – Does the information you collect answer the question you are asking?

  • Timely – Is the information collected continuously and kept up to date?

  • Accurate – Is the information correct for the desired purpose, clear, and in adequate detail?

  • Complete – Do you monitor to assure all the information is there?

Assessment tools must be:

  • Valid – Does the tool really measure what it is supposed to measure?

  • Reliable – Does it provide dependable and consistent information?

(Adapted from What Is Quality Data for Programs Serving Infants and Toddlers?)

You might look at:

  • Implementation Outcomes

  • How many visits were there?

  • Regularly attended? Cancelled? No-shows?

  • How long was each visit?

  • Were the visits focused and constructive?

  • Were the parents engaged?

  • What is the child’s health status?

  • How many well child visits were kept?

  • Did parents have questions about topics you have discussed?

  • Quality of the Home Visit

  • What information and concerns were covered? Were they drawn from joint planning?

  • How did experiences address the child’s school readiness goals in the five essential domains?

  • How did learning experiences incorporate materials in the home?

  • How did conversations address parenting strategies and concerns?

  • What assessment methods were used and what was recorded?

  • What plan was created for the next home visit or socialization?

  • Unique Family Concerns

  • Referrals made?

  • Community resources?

  • Issues raised because of situations such as family disruption, violence, mental health, food instability, housing instability, financial stress, teen parenting, single parenting, etc.?

  • Did these issues interfere with spending time on child development experiences?

  • and Other Data, such as:

  • Child development and school readiness outcomes;

  • Family Service Agreement outcomes; and

  • Home safety outcomes/environmental modifications.