Data-Driven Family Engagement Tools for Head Start and State Preschools

Learning Genie is an app for ECE educators and family service workers for Distant Learning and Family Engagement including tracking in-kind. During the COVID-19 crisis, Learning Genie offers free tools till the end of 2020 under a grant (or in-kind) to support all ECE agencies for Distance Learning and track school readiness outcomes.


Learning Genie also provides a useful application for portfolio-building. The portfolio tracking and tagging systems could be readily applied to DRDP 2015, Florida VPK, Head Start (HS), Early Head Start (EHS), Montessori, and other state or private-backed assessment tools.

Discover How Analyzing Data Can Help You Overcome In-Kind Collection Challenges

Every Head Start and Early Head Start Agency is susceptible to challenges regarding In-Kind collection. Whether they still collect in-kind manually and deal with the delays and workload of this process, parents are not engaged with the activities, or the staff struggles with approvals, low in-kind collection is a critical issue for every agency.

Reasons for low In-Kind Collection


Your organization must be able to pinpoint the root cause of the problem and correct it in time to avoid the need to apply for a waiver at the end of the year. However, this is not always easy, especially if you have many families and sites, making it harder to track your results in-depth.

This article will show you how using real-time data can help you zero in your organization’s in-kind collection to identify your strengths, pinpoint the problems, and easily report and communicate with your staff the results and the course of action to achieve your goals.


In-Kind Collection Challenges

Although each agency might have particular reasons they struggle with In-Kind collection, some are common across Head Start and Early Head Start Organizations. The main one is the manual In-Kind Collection process. Many agencies still use paper forms to collect donations, assign activities to families, and document all the in-kind activities.

This traditional In-Kind collection usually comes with difficulties related to documentation and delays. Commonly, paper forms get lost, signatures are missing, and inputting the information into spreadsheets opens the door to data and mathematical mistakes. Ultimately, these common challenges inhibit the agencies’ in-kind collection and are time-consuming to correct.

The first step to overcoming In-Kind collection issues is to acquire digital tools that provide an efficient and error-free process. In the article Discover How Digital Collection Can Impact Your Agency, we go deeper into the benefits of using digital tools to collect In-Kind donations and their positive effect on the agencies’ results.


However, transitioning to digital tools is not only about making the in-kind collection process more efficient. An effective system must provide an essential element to meet the Non-Federal Share: Real-time data. The ability to track the In-Kind activity in real-time, with clear information about the agency’s current situation, and the capability to disaggregate the data using functional criteria, gives the organization the power to understand its strengths and areas of opportunity.

The Power of Data

When you start collecting data efficiently through a well-developed system, you gain several benefits that empower your organization to achieve its goals. The first is the capability to track all your in-kind activity immediately in-real time. Once all the donations are submitted and approved, complete data is instantly available in the In-Kind Summary Report.


Learning Genie developed the Summary Report to go beyond showing the general statistics for your in-kind activity. In addition to offering all the information your agency has collected, you will have several options to sort your results. This will allow you to analyze data and attain in-depth conclusions about your current situation.

Let’s look at Learning Genie’s options and how we can help your agency get accurate and immediate data about your In-Kind progress.

Filter the information

Many agencies have several programs, such as Head Start and Early Head Start, and they need to track each program’s results and report on them individually. Therefore, Learning Genie lets you keep track of your organization’s overall results and filter them by the program you want. This filter makes it easier for your agency to identify each program’s performance and generate all the reports needed for them individually. Additionally, you can easily add new programs to the platform and ensure immediate access to all the data for them whenever you need it.

In addition to the program filter, you can also sort the data by site and classrooms. This filter will identify how your sites and classrooms contribute to their programs. You will also find the gaps that might affect your goals and determine action plans to fill them. In the end, you will save time and effort as you can focus your actions on the root cause of the problem you encountered.

Finally, you can select the date range you desire to focus your data analysis on specific periods. This option helps you analyze the effectiveness of the changes you implement in your programs to improve your performance and to keep a closer eye on those sites and classrooms that require your attention. As the in-kind information shows immediately in the Summary Report, you can keep track of your results more frequently and have accurate and comparable data from day to day and week to week.

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Track all in-kind categories individually

Learning Genie’s Summary Report shows your total in-kind value and the value for each type of in-kind you have collected. Therefore, you will be able to see how at-home activities, volunteer services, and donations contribute to your program. Based on these results, you can quickly identify gaps and the need to focus your efforts on improving your collection depending on the in-kind category.

However, besides seeing the value for all types of in-kind, you can also select each of them and see the details regarding all their contributions:

At-home activities

You can see the date of the activity, the child’s name, their site and classroom, the family member or community individual that completed the activity with them, the value of the activity, and its description, among other information. Additionally, as at-home activities are essential to your in-kind collection, the Summary Report allows you to track at-home activities divided by group, theme, domain, value, percentage, and time. You can also look at which family members or community individuals are completing the activities. All these filters are highly valuable as they allow you to understand which activities are more successful and which family members contribute the most to your program.

Volunteer Activities

When you look at the details of the volunteer activities, you can see the exact details for at-home activities, but you also can filter the information, so it only shows community individuals that have contributed to the program. You can also download this information in PDF and Excel format to report your results.


All the individual information available for the different types of in-kind is also available for donations. Reports can be downloaded in the same formats, and you can filter the data by date range, program, site, and classroom as well.

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Transparency And Clarity In Your Reports

A fundamental element of using data to achieve your agency’s goals is having the capability to communicate to your staff the information you collect with transparency and clarity. Reporting the information clearly and accurately allows everyone in your agency to be aligned with the objectives and ensures all your staff knows where their efforts are needed.

Learning Genie is aware of this need and has included the possibility of downloading the Dashboard Detailed Report in PDF or Excel formats. The report contains all the information you can see in the Summary Report Dashboard, and you have the option to generate it using the different filters available.


This reporting feature allows you to pull the information to be used by your fiscal department and other staff members. Additionally, it helps you to create records of all your activity sorted by date range for each program you have, which eventually comes with the option to compare all the reports and data to have precise conclusions about your progress.

In addition to the Dashboard Detailed Report, Learning Genie also provides the possibility to download the Unique Contributors To In-Kind Report. Is an Excel file and contains all the information related to each individual that has contributed to your In-Kind, the type of activity or contribution they did, and its value. This report is handy for every agency when they need to report their in-kind totals to The Office of Head Start and to get a closer look at those family members and community individuals that contribute the most to their program.


Finally, Learning Genie has created the Monthly In-Kind Report to save you time downloading the reports. This report is automatically generated in the platform and sent to the agency and site administrators on the first day of each month at 9:00 am. In this report, you will see the information you usually see in the In-Kind dashboard and will have the option to set your in-kind targets by month and year to precisely track your progress (click in the image to see in detail).


All Learning Genie’s features, reports, and ways to present the information are highly beneficial for every agency. Organizations can use the data to make timely decisions, pinpoint gaps and issues to resolve, and involve all the staff responsible for the program results. The results are easy to track, and the possibility to focus on each element of the in-kind activity with accuracy and in real-time gives clarity and transparency to the data.

The days of delays and time-consuming processes to get accurate information about your in-kind process are over. Now, you can see your results immediately and go deeper to identify your strengths and weaknesses accurately to focus your efforts on improvement and achieve all your program’s goals.