Georgia’s Cross Agency Child Data System (CACDS) aligns critical data from programs and services for children zero to five and their families. The purpose of the system is to identify service gaps, create opportunities for analysis and research, and provide an integrated and aligned approach to demonstrate how the state is meeting the needs of its youngest learners.

Our Mission

Create a high quality, comprehensive, integrated early childhood data system for Georgia to inform policies and practices that produce better outcomes for children and families.

Our History


The development of Georgia’s integrated child data system began in 2010 when the State Advisory Council provided a grant for the project’s initial funding. At the time the term Early Childhood Integrated Data System (ECIDS) hadn’t been adopted nationwide, so the state called its system Georgia’s Cross Agency Child Data System (CACDS).

CACDS was designed to serve as a single, accessible repository of early childhood data from a number of state agencies serving children and families, including Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL), Department of Education, Department of Public Health, Department of Human Services, Division of Family and Children Services, and Georgia Head Start Association. The system would allow statistics from multiple programs to be matched and combined with other data sources to create compilations and reports to inform leaders, policymakers, and other stakeholders involved in making decisions, improving programs, and creating policies for children and families.

A consulting group facilitated the early discussions among the agencies involved in the CACDS development process, with the understanding that DECAL would build and oversee the data system. The consultants also coordinated roundtable meetings and a feasibility analysis. The roundtable participants created a framework for determining what data should be housed in CACDS, what questions the data should help answer, and what other entities and experts should be involved in the decision-making. They agreed that the focus should be on data covering:

  • State services targeting children
  • Enrollment in state-sponsored child programs
  • Demographics and other characteristics of participants in state-sponsored child programs
  • Child health
  • Historical trends

The roundtable members interviewed program and information technology representatives from each agency to determine which agencies housed the relevant data. Information gathered during the interviews guided development of the CACDS strategic roadmap. The group created a matrix and placed the potential data sources into four quadrants, plotted according to their availability and value to the project’s success. The quadrant labels—strong targets, partnering opportunities, growth opportunities, and challenged targets—represent the priority levels laid out in the strategic roadmap.


In 2013, DECAL received a five-year, $51.7 million Race To The Top – Early Learning Challenge (RTT– ELC) Grant from the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services to encourage innovative structural development of early care initiatives at the state level. DECAL used the RTT – ELC funds to advance its work on the integrated child data system at a time when one of DECAL’s priorities was updating the data-sharing agreements with participating agencies. The grant provided funding for CACDS infrastructure development to allow data linkage across state agencies. Georgia was self-guided in this work, with technical assistance from national partners. DECAL also formed an Executive Committee composed of representatives from the participating agencies and began drafting the CACDS Policy Manual, which outlined the system’s goals, contents, governance and administrative structure, and access and use rules.

Our Policies

The Cross-Agency Child Data System Policy Manual is intended to provide stakeholders and all CACDS users with written guidance on the data request process, the CACDS governance committee, and data access levels for participating agencies. It is meant to be a living document with revisions made as needed and when new data sources are added. This document is maintained by Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) staff, with changes approved by the CACDS Executive Committee. Please access the CACDS Policy Manual here.

2016 – 2019 and beyond

Following the infrastructure enhancements, DECAL created a public website at http://www.gacacds.com/ that includes a collection of standard and customizable templates into which early childhood partners can download aggregate-level data reports. In addition, Georgia won a grant from ECDataWorks at the University of Pennsylvania, funded by the Kellogg Foundation, to design a data visualization tool to improve the delivery and use of the state’s early childhood data. These tools are now hosted on the Get Georgia Reading Campaign website at http://getgeorgiareading.org/data/find-data/.

DECAL is currently working to finalize the CACDS policy manual and intends to release it to partner agencies and stakeholders in late 2019.