The ECE Map's Stakeholder Engagement Process
Because Shift Research Lab’s products are purpose-built to serve Colorado’s social sector, we design our community information tools with direct input from the stakeholders who utilize them. Our flagship community information tool, Community Facts, was developed with input from a group of community stakeholders that continue to be involved in directing the tool’s ongoing enhancements, and we followed a similar stakeholder engagement process when developing the Early Care and Education Map.
The ECE Map’s year-long development process began in December 2015 when we made a call to the ECE community to solicit participation in the tool’s design and development. Ultimately, we assembled a group of core stakeholders that included individuals from across philanthropic, advocate, provider and government organizations who were committed to offering their insight and expertise to help us develop a tool that would serve their colleagues’ needs. A full list of the core stakeholder group participants is available here.
Using The Reinvestment Fund’s Childcare Map of Philadelphia as inspiration, we kicked off the ECE Map’s discovery phase in January 2016, convening the stakeholder group to help us create a vision for the tool. Later, a subset of stakeholders helped us design the visual and graphic experience for the tool. These meetings were facilitated by our technology developer Open Media Foundation (OMF), who was at the helm to hear and understand the subject matter content that the stakeholder group provided.
While OMF focused on building the tool over the summer of 2016, the Shift team developed the accessibility measure to help calculate the shortage of licensed ECE facilities that exists in communities across the region. Once the tool was sufficiently stable, we invited the entire stakeholder group to participate in user testing. During this phase of the project, which occurred in fall 2016, the stakeholders had the opportunity to preview the tool and use it themselves, and we received valuable feedback that led us closer to the tool’s launch.
"The Denver Preschool Program was excited to participate and contribute to the development of the ECE mapping tool," says Denver Preschool Program director of operations David Collins, who serves as a stakeholder. "We applaud Shift Research Lab for bringing together a broad variety of ECE stakeholders to to build at tool that literally every stakeholder can use to discover the broad array of early childhood education options available in our community. The diverse group helped ensure that a significant breadth of meaningful data is contained within the system."
After nearly a year of work, the first phase of the ECE Map went live in December 2016. As we consider how the tool should evolve to continue meeting the needs of the ECE community, the stakeholder group will be involved in directing future enhancements. We anticipate that the stakeholder group itself will evolve along with the tool, and we look forward to adding additional members who bring new perspectives and expertise. If you are are a member of the ECE community who is interested in being involved in the ECE Map, contact Jennifer Newcomer.