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.

Family Needs Assessment: Improving Data Collection and Analysis

At the beginning of the school year, it is a priority for your agency to start gathering information and developing an action plan that ensures you will provide all the needed services to families. For that matter, it is essential to have a clear overview of your community’s needs. To acquire this information, the Family Needs Assessment is a fundamental tool that will allow you to understand demographic trends in your community, the characteristics of the families you serve, and their strengths and needs.

Traditionally, completing the Family Needs Assessment is a manual process filled with paperwork to cover hundreds to thousands of families, significant investments of time and workforce to go through all the forms and input the information into databases, and exhausting periods of data analysis. It is a time-consuming task that can take several weeks to get concrete results.

Therefore, you could find yourself planning based on intuition several weeks into the school year at the risk of not addressing your community’s specific needs. Timeliness in the Assessment creation and distribution, immediate access to its results, and better statistics have been the focus of improvement.

Technology and innovation have brought new and improved data collection methods to address these common obstacles. In this article, we present the solutions available and how Learning Genie has used its experience to make the Family Needs Assessment a powerful and easy-to-use tool for all agencies.

Our Current Situation

Completing the Family Needs Assessment requires at least four stages: creating the assessment, distributing the questionnaires, collecting the information, and data analysis. Each step has obstacles and challenges that make this process time-consuming and expensive.

Each of these obstacles has been historically present, and the need for a solution has increased over time. Therefore, agencies have seen in technology a path towards an efficient method to complete the Family Needs Assessment. Let’s take a look at a common solution.

Technology: The First Step Towards Efficiency.

To solve the time and workload issue when completing the Family Needs Assessment manually, agencies have opted to use digital tools, such as Google Forms, Microsoft Forms and Survey Monkey. With this, they have been able to emulate the paper forms, digitally design questionnaires, and compile the information in one exclusive server.

Second, most tools that allow creating surveys online show the results in a dashboard without the capability to filter them. Therefore, it is impossible to segment the responses based on site, classroom, program, or other criteria that facilitate finding demographic trends and needs, making it harder to determine the best way to address them during the year.

Using these tools is only a partial solution, as they come with additional difficulties regarding completion rate and data analysis.

Although agencies have reduced the cost and the time it takes to complete the Family Needs Assessment as they removed paperwork, the solution has come at a higher price. The statistics their current tools provide cannot be segmented, filtered, or compared, making it harder to identify demographic trends and needs in-depth. Low coverage and completion rates directly affect the assessment outcomes and the conclusions the organizations might draw from them.

Learning Genie’s Family Needs Assessment

Technology is an excellent first step towards improvement. However, it must be combined with innovative features to solve the remaining issues. Learning Genie saw this challenge and developed a Family Needs Assessment and Survey Module that ensures timeliness, coverage and completion rate, and in-depth data analysis.

Let’s see how it works!

Timeliness: do in days what used to take weeks!

A central aspect of the Family Needs Assessment is that it should not take weeks to create, distribute, and complete. It must be an easy and timely process that promptly gives accurate results so your agency can develop an action plan for the year in time and start implementing it from the beginning.

To achieve these results, Learning Genie created a Family Needs Assessment template. Based on the knowledge and expertise acquired over the years, Learning Genie assessed 15 essential questions that would gather information about the families agencies serve.

You can modify this template to have a personalized questionnaire that accommodates your needs. You can delete or add questions, choose which are required, include new answers to the pre-made questions, and ensure all topics are covered. Nevertheless, if you already have a questionnaire that fulfills your needs, it can also be uploaded to Learning Genie and used the same way you could use the template.

Ensure High Coverage And Completion Rates

To accomplish the purpose of the survey, you need to ensure that you can reach all families in your community and that they fill it out. Otherwise, you will not have a significant enough sample to get accurate results regarding changes in the demographic trends, gaps in the services you provide, and new needs to address.

To cover this fundamental aspect of the follow-up survey, Learning Genie allows you to send the survey directly to all your onboarded parents as soon as you create the questionnaire. You can select all the sites and classrooms you want and immediately guarantee that all families will receive them, ensuring a 100% coverage rate.

Once you have sent the survey, to ensure that you also get a high completion rate, all parents will see a pop-up notification in their app, asking them to complete the questionnaire. Parents can click directly on the notification, and the app will redirect them to answer the questions.

However, parents might not have the time to complete the questionnaire when they see the notification. To ensure they can return to it, it will be visible in their app’s feed, and you will also have the option to send reminders to ask them to fill out the survey before the deadline.

Data Analysis: How It Looks And What You Can Do

At this point, you have been able to create your survey, send it to all parents and ensure you get as many answers as possible. It has been a timely process and has not required a considerable investment. Now, it’s time to collect the data and analyze it.

To overcome the time-consuming task of going through each response and inputting the data, Learning Genie immediately inputs all families’ responses in a dynamic dashboard that shows all the statistics you need to get accurate conclusions from your analysis.

Additionally, Learning Genie’s dashboard allows you to compare different survey results to take a deeper look into changes within your community over time

You can also use different filters to focus your analysis on different demographic groups based on gender, age group, site, classrooms, and others.

Explore its potential!

Let’s look at how you can use Learning Genie’s Family Assessment Module and Dashboard.

Suppose your agency discovered these five primary needs in your community through the Family Needs Assessment: Learning English as a Second Language, Medical Assistance, Housing, Job Readiness, and expanding parents’ education:

These results are still too general for you to draw accurate conclusions about demographic trends and needs within your community. However, with Learning Genie’s features, you can segment the information and have a deeper understanding of the causes of these needs. Following is how each site responded to the same question:

Although all sites have the exact five primary needs, now you can see which are more important for each site. You can start determining if you will address those needs with an agency-wide approach or if you will focus your efforts on one location for a specific need.

Also, segmentation is necessary when analyzing one particular need. For example, families from all sites are highly interested in Medical Assistance and programs. However, the medical services required might change depending on the age group. Therefore, you can use that filter to ensure you differentiate the specific needs of different children and families. Following are the various health interest of each group:

The previous examples are just a tiny part of all you can do with the data collected when you have the right tool to present and manage it. Learning Genie’s criteria for segmenting and filtering the information are advantageous for comparing data and drawing in-depth conclusions.

It will be easier and faster for you to understand needs and demographic trends and determine the approach you will have to address each of them.


Learning Genie’s Survey Module is at your disposal to empower your agency to become a data-driven organization that can make accurate decisions that help you reach your goals.