Policy Brief: Equitable and Accessible Early Learning and Care in California Starts with an Early Childhood Integrated Data System (ECIDS)

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.  


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Karla Fernandez

Communications Manager

Karla Fernandez (she/her/hers) joins Ed Trust–West as a Communications Manager with over 11 years of experience advancing social impact initiatives.

Karla started her career as a teacher at Chicago Public Schools and UIC College Prep. After teaching, Karla joined United Friends of the Children to support LA County’s youth in foster care as a college counselor. Through Leadership for Educational Equity, Karla also served as a Policy Advisor Fellow for the office of a Los Angeles Unified School Board Member. She solidified her interests in policy analysis and quantitative research during her time with the Price Center for Social Innovation, the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, and the USC Presidential Working Group on Sustainability. Before joining The Education Trust–West, Karla was the Associate Director for the Southeast Los Angeles (SELA) Collaborative, a network of nonprofits advocating for communities in SELA.

Karla holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology from the University of Chicago, a Master of Public Policy from the USC Price School of Public Policy, and a Graduate Certificate in Policy Advocacy from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Karla is based out of southern California and is passionate about using data analysis, communications, and digital strategies for policy advocacy and social justice efforts.