The Junction is an online consumer review platform that will change the way Head Start programs make their purchasing decisions. It is a free resource for all early childhood practitioners.
Users of the Junction will be able to submit reviews of the products and services they use, read reviews from their peers around the country, report technical glitches and feature development requests for vendors to see, and ask troubleshooting questions of peers and vendors.
Head Start grantees utilize the services of a variety of vendors to develop, deliver, and administer their programs and to support business operations. These products and services include off-the-shelf items or technologies, in-person or online training, customized consulting, and more.
The fragmentation of the market and available information is a problem for both vendors and Head Start programs.
Head Start programs would benefit from knowledge about potential vendors and their individual strengths and weaknesses, as identified by their peers. They would benefit from an open and fair market with transparent information. They would also relish the opportunity to provide feedback to other programs about their own experience with various vendors and services. Programs also want the ability to influence vendors to improve existing product quality by providing feedback about products and services, and to influence vendors’ future product and service offerings.
The vendors themselves would benefit from exposure to all Head Start programs and a centralized place to receive and respond to feedback to improve their products and guide future development. The market itself would also benefit from the ability to attract new vendors and increase competition.
The Junction is a part of NHSA's Data Design Initiative. NHSA launched the Data Design Initiative (DDI) in December 2017. The DDI aims to bring down the barriers hindering programs’ abilities to collect, analyze, and share data and other evidence. NHSA hopes to help make it possible for every staff member and program to learn from their own and others’ experience and collaborate to discover increasingly effective and cost-effective practices.
This requires readily accessible, understandable, and easy-to-use data, analytics, and evaluations to harvest and share lessons while protecting individual privacy. In addition, it requires learning how to analyze and visualize data for multiple purposes, including priority-setting; timely warnings to prevent serious problems; detecting trends, clusters, and outliers; and guiding program practice.
NHSA is working with a collaborative group of stakeholders, including practitioners, federal staff, vendors, and outside experts, to make progress on more than a dozen critical projects under the Data Design umbrella.