Child Development Data is Key: Rockford and Skokie/Morton Grove to Use Early Development Instrument

Erikson Institute’s Early Development Instrument (EDI) Pilot Project will work with the City of Rockford and Villages of Skokie and Morton Grove to implement this data tool, which provides insight on the school readiness of children in relation to their access to early childhood programs, services and resources in their immediate area.

“Research shows that early childhood experiences are critical to a child’s development. Their community—the playground they play in, the library they go to for story time—is a major factor in their growth. The EDI provides insight on how communities can improve the environment to prepare kids for academic success, which can lead to success in life.” said Jaclyn Vasquez, associate director of the EDI Pilot Project at Erikson.

In January 2019, kindergarten teachers will fill out a 103-question survey on each of their students’ development. The data derived from the EDI survey is aggregated to maintain the anonymity of students and is plotted onto community data maps. Visualizing the data this way helps local early childhood providers, teachers, parents, elected officials, and government agencies identify what is working and where there are gaps in early childhood programming. The maps pinpoint where to deploy resources that set children up for success once they enter kindergarten and beyond.

EDI is Key Piece to Understanding Child Development

Erikson Institute will work with Alignment Rockford, Transform Rockford and Rockford Public School District 205 and the Early Childhood Alliance in Skokie to carry out the EDI this 2018-2019 school year.

“The initiative provides data that we do not currently have,” said Heidi Dettman, RPS 205 executive director of academics. “It is, for all intents and purposes, the missing link to help us more deeply engage community partnerships to wrap around supports for our students and families.”

Echoing the need for data, Megan Aseltine, assistant superintendent of academics for School District 69 in Skokie, adds: “We really think the EDI is going to be the missing piece for us. We have lots of services and dedicated people who want to do the work. Now we can actually target it based on the vulnerabilities and the strengths of our community.”

Putting Development Data to Use:

Since its inception in 2016, the EDI Pilot Project team has worked with community partners to implement the tool in Greater East St. Louis, the City of Kankakee, the Village of Bradley, and the Village of Bourbonnais and the Village of Oak Park. And, communities are already reporting progress connected to the EDI data.

East St. Louis School District 189 used EDI data in a grant to the Illinois State Board of Education to highlight local areas with high rates of vulnerability for optimal child development. As a result, they received nearly $6 million—a $1 million increase from the previous grant competition to expand the availability of high-quality preschool to more families.

Beginning in November 2019, the Community Foundation of Kankakee River Valley will receive $2.1 million over six years to address childhood trauma and mental health resources for families in Kankakee County. EDI data illuminated high rates of vulnerability for children’s social and emotional development and pointed to the need to address the trauma caused by environmental stressors, anxiety, or depression in an effort to support children with reaching their full potential.

Data for both Rockford and the Villages of Skokie and Morton Grove will be released in May 2019 to help inform communities on developing an early childhood strategy that will benefit the children and their families.