The Connecticut Office of Early Childhood (OEC) funds and oversees programs that help children in the state thrive. The agency relies on data reported by childcare providers to evaluate, plan, and improve their services. However, the current data collection system poses several challenges to users, including:
- Complex reporting requirements
- Difficulties with updating or correcting data, which leads to accuracy issues
- Duplicate records
"The amount of paperwork I have to submit is overwhelming, sometimes. Honestly, [a better reporting structure] would be a blessing. We're supposed to be running centers and helping families," said Anna Ruggiero, Executive Director of Children's Adventure Center in Sandyhook, CT.
Bloom and partner Skylight are working with OEC to create a user-centered, secure data collection tool that simplifies the reporting requirements. Our goal is to make it easier for early childcare and education providers to enter and track data in the system -- and ultimately help OEC access better data to improve their services.
Through the fall of 2019, we conducted user research with providers and OEC staff members to understand the key challenges they encountered with the data collection system. We developed a prototype of a replacement system that we piloted in early 2020 with 6 early childhood education providers. Once the pandemic hit and OEC's data needs changed, the team paused the rollout and iterated on the tool.
The new tool, Early Childhood Education (ECE) Reporter, went live in January of 2021. The team is currently onboarding 400 state-funded providers onto the tool, and ensuring that they have a successful first-time experience. The team is also working with our OEC partners to design and develop accessible views of ECE Reporter to help the agency improve childcare and early education in Connecticut.