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Laying the Groundwork: The Power of Data

By: Reem Aly, Chief Strategy & Transformation Officer at Groundwork Ohio Follow Reem on Twitter and LinkedIn

At Groundwork Ohio, our vision is to make Ohio the best place to be a young child so that every child has the opportunity to reach their full potential. This vision comes from an underlying understanding that the first few years of life can lay the groundwork for a child’s ability to thrive. When I think about this at its most basic and fundamental level, as both a professional and as a mother, it means we want our youngest children to be healthy and ready to learn. Not only does this set up our children for success later in life, but it puts Ohio on the path to become a healthier, more productive, and economically vibrant state.

I know that Groundwork’s vision is shared by many of our partners, from Ohio's state policymakers and agencies, county commissioners, healthcare providers, early childhood educators to our families with young children. However, far too often, babies, toddlers and preschool age children are not top of mind. This is true when it comes to where we invest and it’s true when it comes to how we report data.

Laying the groundwork for and prioritizing Ohio’s youngest children begins with data. I say this not as a data wonk (a title I’ll gladly own), but because it’s the avenue for tracking and measuring progress towards our shared vision. Data can serve as a starting place for dialogue, a call to action, and a way to shine light on our state’s strengths, challenges, and opportunities to improve. There is power in data and that power can and should be used to elevate the needs of our youngest children and hold us accountable to meeting their needs.

In Ohio, there is no singular dashboard or scorecard that provides us with comprehensive and disaggregated data on young children and their families (prenatal to five). How can we ask our policymakers and leaders to make informed and equitable policy decisions and investments without solid data?

For this reason, we are developing a first-of-its kind, comprehensive Early Childhood Dashboard to be released in 2023. Groundwork’s Early Childhood Dashboard will build on other national dashboards, such as Annie E. Casey Kids Count Data Center and the State of Babies Yearbook, but with a specific lens and focus on Ohio children ages 0-5 and their families, and providing data broken out by race and ethnicity, income level, and other factors. Moreover, as seen in the framework, the Dashboard will fully examine the factors and outcomes required to achieve equity and build a strong foundation for Ohio’s children.

"Data can serve as a starting place for dialogue, a call to action, and a way to shine light on our state’s strengths, challenges, and opportunities to improve." -Reem Aly, Chief Strategy & Transformation Officer at Groundwork Ohio

Over the next year, we will be gathering feedback on the Early Childhood Dashboard Preview to inform development of the 2023 Dashboard. We will be meeting with families, community organizations, educators, providers, and other local, state, and national early childhood experts to brainstorm on what to include in the Dashboard and how to communicate the data. We are undertaking quite a journey at Groundwork — a journey I’m really excited to take part in and one that we hope will evoke meaningful and positive change for our youngest Ohioans.

To explore Groundwork Ohio's Early Childhood Dashboard Preview and provide feedback, click here.


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