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 digital in-kind collection can impact your agency

Meeting the non-federal match is fundamental for every Head Start agency, and in-kind donations are one way this mandate can be met. Programs and grants deeply rely on the way in-kind donations are collected and documented. This can be a convoluted, step-by-step process which can lead to missed details, inaccuracies, incorrect calculations, and/or problems around their validation.

Opening the door to digital collection of all in-kind donations could have a remarkable impact on your agency. Using a digital platform to collect in-kind data will eliminate the need to hold and file paperwork, reduces workload for your staff, decreases human error, and gives you the possibility to create at-home activities for families that can count as in-kind.

Eliminate paperwork

From now on, paper forms are no longer needed to collect your in-kind. Digital tools, such as Learning Genie, can provide a pre-loaded library filled with allowable in-kind activities, and give you the option to create a customized library from which your teachers can assign at-home activities to parents.

As activities are completed parents easily enter the information into the digital platform and sign with their finger right on the phone screen and hit submit so it can be reviewed and approved by your staff.

The entire process is done through an app or website and, as reports are submitted and approved, its software has the capability of auto-generating real time data an in-kind dashboard so you can track all in-kind activities for continuous quality improvement. You will not only be saving the time it takes to input the information from paper forms into a but will also have a real time display data for review and monitoring, and ready to be used by your fiscal department.

On the other hand, having all your in-kind records stored digitally will help you ensure compliance with the Head Start Performance Standards. According to Part 1303.24

“(a) A program must maintain child records in a manner that ensures only parents, and officials within the program or acting on behalf of the program have access, and such records must be destroyed within a reasonable timeframe after such records are no longer needed or required to be maintained.” (

By using a digital platform, you will ensure that only parents and authorized personnel can access in-kind records through their personal accounts. At the same time, you will avoid any missing paperwork containing sensitive information and will prevent leaks. All the information will be always at your disposal for you to keep track, and you will ensure that all Privacy and Confidentiality rights are met and protected.

Ensure in-kind accuracy

Adding in-kind activities to digital platforms has to be a very simple and straightforward process that can be completed through its apps or websites, and as you also have the possibility to select pre-loaded activities, you will completely reduce the risk of having unallowable in-kind. From the beginning, moving to a digital process of assigning, completing, and reporting in-kind has the potential of making it much more efficient and error free.

Additionally, as most digital platforms automatically calculate all in-kind submissions, you will not need to do any manual calculations, spreadsheet tabulations and will be able to eliminate mathematical errors that could affect your in-kind totals.

However, a well developed software has to go beyond the basic process of completing and submitting in-kind activities, and has to provide you real-time data broken down into the different types of in-kind you are collecting. This reporting feature is essential in ensuring continuous quality improvement where you can use your real time data to address gaps immediately and making sure that your in-kind goals are met annually!

All you need is an E-Signature

Every in-kind activity has to be signed to be submitted and approved, and you should not have any delays or missing in-kind because of the lack of a simple signature. That’s the reason why the inclusion of E-Signatures is a must on every digital in-kind submission platform. Before any activity report can be submitted, the in-kind software prompts a box in which parents and volunteers have to input their signature using their finger, and does not give them the option to submit their report unless they have previously signed it.

At the same time, as your staff receives all the in-kind submissions to review them, and give feedback to parents and volunteers if needed, once the activity is ready to be approved, they are also prompted a reminder to digitally sign the approval before it can be completed. Just as parents and volunteers do, your staff only needs to input their signature into the report using their mouse so the approval can go through and all the information can be automatically added to your in-kind dashboard.

This is how you increase your in-kind

Adopting digital tools and platforms is a step towards efficiency, a better organization and planning, less workload, faster and accurate results, and a higher life quality.

Digital in-kind collection presents remarkable opportunities to increase your in-kind. You will have a wide range of allowable, home-based activities that can be easily assigned, completed and submitted. Parents and volunteers will find the in-kind process less time consuming, which will allow them to focus their energy on their children and be more engaged with the activities. Your staff’s workload will be reduced, and their daily tasks will be completed efficiently, avoiding any delays or documentation inaccuracies.

As well, these tools will automatically generate and organize all the data, so you will be able to keep track of your progress consistently and in real time through an in-kind dashboard and summary reports, take immediate action to address any gaps, and ensure your goals are met annually.