As California invests in early learning and care, the state is also moving forward with a long-overdue plan to build a statewide longitudinal data system (SLDS) — known as the Cradle-to-Career (C2C) Data System — which will eventually connect data over time and across sectors like education, health, human services, and the workforce. This is a significant milestone that will allow California to identify inequities and roadblocks to success while also recognizing where things are going well, especially for children of color, those living in poverty, children with disabilities, and dual-language learners. However, California’s early learning and care system has shortcomings in the way data is collected, managed, and used which present challenges in accessing and integrating data from the “Cradle” side of the C2C Data System.

In this policy brief, we provide an overview of the current early learning and care data landscape in California, three key shortcomings, and recommendations for a coordinated, cross-agency effort to design a comprehensive Early Childhood Integrated Data System (ECIDS). A fully operational ECIDS will also provide the foundation necessary for stronger “Cradle” data that is an essential component of a robust C2C Data System.