Introducing: The Child Care and Interoperability Series

May 28, 2021


High-quality child care data are essential to informed decision-making. Accurate data are needed to answer questions such as: how many children are being served in programs nationwide? What areas are experiencing gaps in the supply of child care? Where should we target more resources and supports? Currently, a lot of child care data are collected by multiple sources in the nonprofit and state government arenas. But there is no consistency in how these entities gather and report data. Instead, the data are siloed and often inaccessible.  

CCAoA is pleased to launch The Child Care and Interoperability Resource Suitea collection of resources that explore a way to overhaul the child care system so that it better serves all stakeholders: children, families, policymakers, advocates, etc. 

“Interoperability refers to the ability of two or more systems or components to exchange information and to use information to make better decisions.” - Administration for Children and Families


The COVID-19 pandemic devastated our child care system, which we now have the opportunity to rebuild. A key component of its future success will be the implementation of interoperable digital technology – data systems that operate with a strong data governance framework using commonly defined standards, “talk” to one another and report their data in real-time. Interoperability will allow us to gather and organize information from many sources and get a comprehensive picture of child care across the U.S.   

The first three resources in The Child Care and Interoperability Series are: 


Interoperability and Child Care: An Overview 

This resource details some of the flaws in our existing child care data system and the consequences of siloed data systems. It contrasts that with interoperable digital technology, in which “information across service sectors and agencies is connected immediately & is mutually accessible.” This overview also explains what can be accomplished through interoperability for each stakeholder group. 


What Is Interoperability and Why We Need It 

This resource defines and explores three key components of a successful interoperable system, and why each is important: 

  • Common governance refers to data sharing arrangements and a structure that governs the use and ensures the privacy of shared info.  
  • Common standards – involves the creation of a consistent language of communication that all stakeholders agree to use together. It includes vocabulary, glossary of terms and definitions of the data shared. 
  • Common transactions – allows information to interface seamlessly across products and digital technology. 


Equity and Interoperability 

This resource asserts that child care needs to be transformed into an equitable system by identifying and addressing injustices that exist, then creating a system that is equitable by design. It covers: 

  • The history of inequity and child care, starting with the pre-Civil War era when Black women cared for slaveowners’ children.  
  • The present day when the pandemic has increased the severity of the long-standing challenges of social and racial injustice and their impact on child care. Women of color make up 40% of the child care workforce and earn, on average, 15% below the federal poverty level. 
  • The ways in which interoperability supports equity by allowing easier access to demographic data which helps to identify all gaps in services. 


The Child Care and Interoperability Series is free to CCAoA members and available for a small fee to nonmembers. Access the series.

We will continue to roll out more resources in the coming months as the child care community continues to take steps toward interoperability that benefits CCR&Rs, providers, families and, most importantly, the children in our care.  


The future of child care must be interoperable

Topics: Systems Building

Written by Laurie Rackas

Laurie Rackas is the Content Developer on CCAoA's Marketing & Communications team. She is a writer, editor and video producer who specializes in writing for and about children. For her work, she's been awarded six Emmys and a PBS Advertising & Promotion Award, among others.