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How do performance data inform design and management of Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) Programs in the U.S. States? Open Access

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This dissertation uses primary data collected through surveys, interviews, and document analyses to better understand the performance measurement environment of the Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) federal block grant as fostered by the federal administrative agency, and implemented by the states. The dissertation examines how implementation decisions are made at the state level in a networked governance environment. The study focuses on the structure of the state government, the influence of nongovernmental organizations in shared (networked) governance, the state's strategies to manage networked governance (meta-governance), and how and what performance data enter into the decision-making process. I find that most state administrators attempt to balance priorities across federal CCDF goals, state goals, and collaborative groups, while at the same time grappling with span of control issues affecting data design and management, and collaboration. Collaborative groups fall along continua from formal to informal and low to high engagement in the decision-making process. Types of data collected, analyses performed, and data use are variable across the states, but all states purport to compare current data to past data to examine trends over time. The case studies in Arkansas, Maryland, and North Carolina confirm survey results but reveal additional nuances and the importance of other factors such as other national influences, the historical underpinnings of state child care systems, official state promulgation systems, and the driving force that particular individuals play regardless of their institutional home. I propose conceptual frameworks for understanding the decision environment and decision processes. I propose a definition for governance networks, surface the concept of managing latent groups or managing the environment to foster spontaneous group formation as an important function of meta-governance, and provide implications for methodology, theory, and practice.

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