September 27, 2019

Kindergarten Transition Strategies Highlighted in New Briefs


New America reported that in the 2019-20 school year, “approximately four million children will start kindergarten.” This period of early learning is critical, as research shows that access to high-quality early education increases children’s likelihood of going to college, saving for retirement, and living in wealthier neighborhoods.

Recognizing the need for better support, New America released two briefs highlighting opportunities for states, local education agencies (LEAs), and elementary schools to strengthen pre-k to kindergarten transitions and fund transition activities.

Moving into Kindergarten

Their first brief, Moving into Kindergarten: How Schools and Districts are Connecting the Steps for Children and Families, highlights actions that schools and districts can take to help ensure a smooth and stress-free transition into kindergarten for children and their caregivers. The highlighted approaches are currently taking place in districts across the country, with a range of models included to ensure an appropriate method based on a district’s current state of development.

Highlighted methods include:

    • increased data sharing between child care, pre-k programs, and kindergarten
    • professional development and planning across grades (more specifically, formal activities that bring adults together across childcare, pre-k, and kindergarten)
    • a focus on family engagement that emphasizes the importance of involvement in education, extends beyond a one-time activity and takes place prior to the start of kindergarten
    • activities for incoming kindergarten students that go beyond one-time events (such as a classroom visit) and prioritize students without access to pre-k

To read the full brief, visit the New America website.

Using Local, State, and Federal Dollars to Improve Pre-K to Kindergarten Transitions

New America’s second brief, Using Local, State, and Federal Dollars to Improve Pre-K to K Transitions, highlights the importance of a seamless transition between early learning programs and grade levels as well as effective policies and practices. With this, New American mentions that “there are a number of federal and state programs and other funding opportunities that can help support state and local efforts to improve pre-k to kindergarten transitions and alignment.”

Serving as a resource for state and local leaders, the brief examines:

    • Child Care & Development Block Grant (CCDBG)
    • Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)
    • Head Start Act
    • Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV)
    • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
    • Preschool Development Grant, Birth through Five (PDG B-5)
    • Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC)
    • Other Sources

Following this, the brief provides action recommendations for states, local education agencies, and elementary schools. Visit the New America website to learn more.

Local Initiatives

Are you interested in learning about the local pre-k and kindergarten landscape? Check out these initiatives:

    • Hi5 ensures that young children are school ready and promotes the importance of on-time kindergarten registration. Over the past seven years, this program has helped Allegheny County schools reach an impressive on-time kindergarten registration rate of 96 percent. To learn more, visit the Hi5 webpage.

Learn More

For more information, contact New America at 202.986.2700 or

*Information provided by New America


September 26, 2019

How to Balance Children’s Digital Media Consumption

In their 2017 “Common Sense Census” report, Common Sense Media found that “children age eight and under spend an average of about two-and-a-quarter hours a day with screen media.” While digital media can be fun and informative, caregivers must be intentional in regulating their own and their child’s media consumption.

The Common Sense Census

To better understand the types of technology available to young children and how children utilize those technologies, Common Sense Media surveyed a representative sample of over 1,400 parents from regions across the United States. The survey included low- and high-income families, parents who received varying levels of education, and families from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Through the survey, Common Sense Media found that 98 percent of children age eight and younger have access to some type of mobile device in their home, with 98 percent having access to a television, 95 percent having access to a smartphone, and 78 percent having access to a tablet. In fact, 42 percent of the families surveyed reported that their child now has their own tablet device, a drastic increase from the reported seven percent four years ago.

Through these developments, children now spend more time consuming digital media per day than they do reading or being read to, with the survey average daily reading time reported as 30 minutes. Read the full report.

Risks of Excess Exposure

All media types, from movies and television shows to social platforms and gaming apps, expose consumers of all ages to a variety of content and messaging. While digital devices can be fun and incorporated as learning tools, they also pose threats to the early experiences of young children by:

    • increasing the likelihood that a child accidentally views violent or inappropriate content,
    • reducing the daily total time spent outside and being active,
    • and limiting children’s early opportunities to develop relationships and social, emotional, and communication skills.

With these risks, parents and caregivers must be intentional in monitoring the media content their children consume and the daily total time spent inside on digital devices. However, families must go one step further. Caregivers must also model healthy media balance behaviors themselves, integrating the same practices into their daily lives that they’re teaching their children. It’s critical that families establish a healthy balance between their offline and online activities.

Resources and Tools

To increase awareness and provide strategies on tackling this issue, Common Sense Media launched a series of resources for families and professionals, including:

*By texting the word KIDS to 21555, families can receive weekly text message tips on how to practice healthy media habits with their family and young children. Tips provided through this service are suitable for caregivers of children ages three to eight years old. Texts are available in English and Spanish. Standard messaging rates apply.

Learn More

To learn more about digital balance, visit the Common Sense Media website.


September 18, 2019

NAEYC Releases New Equity Position Statement

As stated by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), “all children have the right to equitable learning opportunities that help them achieve their full potential as engaged learners and valued members of society.” That’s why, in support of equitable access and opportunities, NAEYC released their new position statement: “Advancing Equity in Early Education.”


Early childhood educators and professionals are in a unique position to advance equity in education. Early childhood education settings—including centers, family child care homes, and schools—are often among children’s first communities beyond their families. With the support of the early education system as a whole, they can create early learning environments that equitably distribute learning opportunities by helping all children experience responsive interactions that:

    • nurture their full range of social, emotional, cognitive, physical, and linguistic abilities;
    • reflect and model fundamental principles of fairness and justice;
    • and help them accomplish the goals of anti-bias education.

To learn more, read NAEYC’s full position statement.


Listed below are a few of NAEYC’s recommendations. For the full list, visit NAEYC’s website.

    • Build awareness and understanding of your culture, personal beliefs, values, and biases.
    • Recognize the power and benefits of diversity and inclusivity.
    • Take responsibility for biased actions, even if unintended, and actively work to repair them.
    • Acknowledge and seek to understand structural inequities and their impact over time.
Administrators of Schools, Centers, Child Care, and Education Settings
    • Take proactive steps with measurable goals to recruit and retain educators and leaders who reflect the diversity of children and families served and who meet professional expectations.
    • Employ staff who speak the languages of the children and families served.
    • Recognize the value of serving a diverse group of children and strive to increase the range of diversity among those served.
    • Create meaningful, ongoing opportunities for multiple voices with diverse perspectives to engage in leadership and decision making.

More Information

For questions, contact NAEYC at 202.232.8777 or

*Information provided by the NAEYC


September 6, 2019

Be Strong Parent Café Training Institute Seeking Applications

Family leaders and providers are invited to apply for the Be Strong Parent Café Institute. Applications must be submitted no later than September 15, 2019.


Through the efforts of the PA Strengthening Families Leadership Team, with funding support from the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) and facilitated by the Center for Schools and Communities, Pennsylvania has offered the Be Strong Parent Café Training Institutes (PCTI) since 2016 and developed over 40 locally-based teams. There is no fee for participation.

PCTI is a two-day experiential and highly interactive institute that prepares a team of family leaders and providers to convene and implement parent cafés and serve as café leaders and table hosts. By the end of the institute, teams will know the anatomy of a parent café, the philosophical foundations and research underlying parent cafés, how to create an ambiance conducive to maximizing the effectiveness of the parent café process, and how to build on the parent café experience to enhance programs for and with family members/family leaders.

Be Strong Parent Cafés educate parents and caregivers about the Strengthening Families™ Protective Factors and create an environment in which parents and caregivers can build protective factors through individual deep self-reflection and peer-to-peer learning.

Read their announcement to learn more.

Available Dates

PCTI will be hosted on the following dates:

    • September 26–27, 2019, Grove City area
    • November 18–19, 2019, Allentown area
    • November 21–22, 2019, State College area
    • December 18–19, 2019, Pittsburgh area

What’s Included

Participation in PCTI includes:

    • continental breakfast and lunch;
    • an honorarium for each day attended;
    • lodging for those who must travel 50 or more miles to the event and wish to stay overnight;
    • and reimbursements for family members of the team for milage (in their car), child care, and evening meals with the submission of a required form and receipts.


To apply for PCTI, complete this form no later than September 15, 2019. Completed applications should be submitted via email to or fax at 717.763.2083.

Learn More

For questions about the Be Strong Parent Café model or to discuss your readiness to participate, please contact Rijelle Kraft at 717.763.1661, x221 or

Visit the PA Strengthening Families website to learn more.

*Information provided by Pennsylvania Strengthening Families


September 5, 2019

Registration Open for UnConference: The Business of Child Care

On Saturday, October 19, Trying Together will host UnConference: The Business Side of Child Care to explore the fundamentals of running a successful child care business.


Child care centers play a vital role in the success of families and their young children. For parents and caregivers, access to care is necessary to remain or renter the workforce, an effort often needed to ensure financial security. For children, access to care means access to a world of social, emotional, physical, and cognitive growth opportunities. However, even with invaluable benefits, it can be expensive to establish, manage, and maintain a family, center-based, or relative child care facility.

That’s why Trying Together is hosting UnConference: The Business of Child Care. From marketing and human resources to day-to-day accountability and business planning, this UnConference will dive deep into the business fundamentals of running a successful child care business. Participants will hear from Keynote Speaker Rona Nesbit, CFO of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, participate in hands-on workshops, enjoy panel discussions with audience Q&A sessions, and more. The event will also feature presenters from Trying Together, PNC Financial Services, Shared Source PA, and more.

Conference Details

UnConference: The Business of Child Care
Saturday, October 19, 2019
8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Allegheny Intermediate Unit
475 East Waterfront Drive, Homestead, PA 15120

What’s Included

By attending the UnConference, professionals will:

    • enjoy a light breakfast and lunch,
    • participate in hands-on, interactive workshops,
    • network with professional colleagues,
    • and be eligible to receive 5.5 PQAS/DHS credits and/or Act 28 hours.


Registrations to attend must be submitted by 5 p.m. on Friday, October 11, 2019. For individuals or groups with less than six people, please register using the form below. For groups of more than six people, contact Yu-Ling at to learn more about receiving a 10% discount.

When workshops are finalized, participants will receive an email from Yu-Ling to select their preferred workshops. Due to limited space in each workshop, Trying Together recommends registering early as placement is dependent on the date of your registration. UnConference staff will do their best to match participants with their requested workshops, but placement is not guaranteed.

More Information

For more information, visit Trying Together’s UnConference webpage.

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