Understanding American Indian and Alaska Native Early Childhood Needs: The Potential of Existing Data

June 22, 2017
Topics:
Child Care, Early Head Start, Youth Services, Head Start, Home Visiting
Projects:
American Indian and Alaska Native Early Childhood Needs Assessment (AI/AN EC Needs Assessment) Design Project, 2014 – 2017 | Learn more about this project
Types:
Reports
Understanding American Indian and Alaska Native Early Childhood Needs: The Potential of Existing Data
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  • File Size 2mb
  • Pages 158
  • Published 2017

Introduction

This report describes preliminary work in support of an early childhood needs assessment for American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) children prenatal to age five. The report uses existing data to describe the population of AI/AN children and families and their participation in early childhood services.

This work is part of a larger AI/AN Early Childhood Needs Assessment design project (AI/AN EC Needs Assessment). Mathematica Policy Research convened a Community of Learning (CoL) to inform three design topics on describing the AI/AN population, studying early childhood services organization and delivery, and assessing features to support community capacity for conducting needs assessments, that form the basis for a needs assessment (Malone et al. 2016).

The current report presents the process and findings from implementing Design One―describing the population of AI/AN children and families and their participation in early childhood services based on existing data sources―with a set of national survey and ACF administrative data sources. We focus on six data sources in the report—two national survey data sources from the U.S. Census Bureau and four administrative data sources on grantees funded by ACF. These data sources were reviewed to see if any could provide information on the key indicators that were identified by the CoL within each research question. The report ends with secondary analysis of two data sets, the American Community Survey and the Head Start Program Information Report on several of the key indicators.

Research Questions

  1. 1 What existing data sources could help us understand AI/AN early childhood needs?
  2. 2 What information from these sources has been published to date?
  3. 3 What can we learn about AI/AN early childhood needs when conducting new analyses by using existing sources?

Purpose

AI/AN populations experience disparities in health and well-being relative to other population groups, highlighting a need for services.  It is important for the level of services to meet needs in communities, yet scant data are available on the scope of met and unmet need to early childhood services in AI/AN communities.

Design One and the AI/AN Early Childhood Needs Assessment more broadly are building blocks for conducting an accurate national assessment of the met and unmet need for services for children prenatal to five and their families.  The design report, reflecting discussions with the CoL, identified 87 key indicators across 9 research questions for Design One to address, and identified 21 data sources with potential to address them.  In this report, we focus on six of these data sources—two national survey data sources from the U.S. Census Bureau and four administrative data sources on grantees funded by ACF.  These data sources were reviewed to see if any could provide information on the key indicators within each research question, thereby meeting Design One’s aim to paint a portrait of need at the national level, using existing data.

Key Findings and Highlights

Findings from the report include:

  • The selected data sources have the potential to address AI/AN EC Needs key indicators of policy and programmatic interest―with data items available on 62 of 87 key indicators across all 9 research questions.
  • Little information, however, has been published to date―17 of the 62 key indicators potentially available were found in published information (covering 7 research questions).
  • New analysis focusing on the key indicators can expand the extent of information known―analysis of the American Community Survey and Head Start Program Information Report addressed 43 key indicators from 8 of the 9 research questions.
  • Use of existing data can present challenges in goodness of fit in how well existing data (collected for a different purpose and across different times) align to the key indicators and intent of the research question. For example, in the published information review, findings might be presented for all children instead of just prenatal to age five.

Methods

Implementation of Design One followed three steps:

  • A review of six data sources (Decennial Census, American Community Survey, Head Start Program Information Report, Child Care and Development Fund Grantee ACF-801 form, Child Care and Development Fund Grantee ACF-700 form, and Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Form 1) to identify data elements addressing the key indicators
  • A review of published information from the four of those data sources for which published information was available
  • Secondary analysis of two of the data sources (American Community Survey, Head Start Program Information Report)

Recommendations

This project represents a first step in understanding the existing information about early childhood needs for AI/AN children and families. It also identifies potential next steps in furthering this understanding, including:

  • The potential for additional secondary analysis of the six data sources reviewed
  • Review of the remaining 15 data sources identified in the design report
  • New data collection, in particular to provide information about key indicators with limited coverage in existing data sources

Citation

L. Malone, E. Knas, S. Bernstein, and L. Read Feinberg (2017).  Understanding American Indian and Alaska Native Early Childhood Needs: The Potential of Existing Data.  OPRE Report # 2017-44, Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Glossary

AI/AN
American Indian/Alaska Native
CoL
Community of Learning
Last Reviewed: June 15, 2017