Part C and Part B 619 state staff members work to answer important questions about program quality and results for children and their families. In doing so, they examine program features, but they often realize they need additional data from other agencies or programs. In such cases, Part C and Part B 619 staff members can become engaged with many data partners (Figure 1). One of the most common data partnerships is between Part C and Part B 619 programs to support transition notification. Part C and Part B 619 agencies also partner with other agencies or programs, both internal and/or external, to share data. For example, Part C staff might connect with Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) to cross-reference notification of parents of children with potential hearing loss. Part B 619 staff for example, might work with Head Start programs to accurately report the number of children who receive services from both programs. Partnership opportunities can benefit both agencies by increasing knowledge about services provided to children and families so that informed decisions are made to improve services.
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There are a variety of approaches to a data partnership, each having pros and cons (Figure 2). However, the approaches shown in Figure 2 are not mutually exclusive. At one level is a very informal handshake arrangement—two agency leaders agreeing that their staff members will share some data for a particular purpose but without any details. While it may expedite the data sharing process, it is not without risks to the agencies. Other approaches have Part C and Part B 619 programs and their partners transitioning to more formal approaches to data partnerships. Ideally, they should establish the authority through a data sharing agreement and manage the partnership through a data partnership management plan. These more formal approaches support partners’ identification of potential risks. As these partnerships evolve, the goal is to support a culture of data use, inclusive of a data sharing agreement and a data partnership management plan.