October 30, 2019

OCDEL Announces New Community Survey


Every five years, states have the opportunity to learn about the well-being of families of young children in local communities. Pennsylvania is asking any individual living in the state to complete this short survey. Through the data collected, Pennsylvania’s Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) will better understand the resources for families living in your community. Survey responses will be used statewide and locally to inform Family Support Services, such as parenting classes and home visiting services.

Hearing from everyone is important! Whether you’re a parent or a provider of family and early childhood services, please complete and share this survey.

Take the OCDEL Community Survey

In English

Please take about five to ten minutes to complete the survey. Your input is critical to informing stakeholders about the factors that may affect the well-being of young children and families in communities across Pennsylvania.

If you wish to complete the OCDEL Community Survey in English, enter the following link into your web browser:

En Español

Le pedimos que pase entre 5 a 10 minutos para contestar la encuesta. Sus aportes son muy importantes para nosotros ya que nos ayudarán a identificar y comprender los factores que pueden afectar la salud dentro de su familia y su comunidad en Pennsylvania.

Si desea completar la encuesta en español, meter el enlace siguiente en su navegador de internet:

More Information

To learn more, read the full announcement.

*Information provided by OCDEL


October 23, 2019

Children’s Fund Working Group Presents Report to County Executive

In October 2019, the Allegheny County Children’s Fund Working Group formally presented County Executive Rich Fitzgerald with a report for his review and consideration. In it, the Group recommends the creation of a new county department dedicated to children, as well as an annual investment of up to $20 million to support high-quality learning and out-of-school-time programs.


Officially launched in May 2019, the Allegheny Children’s Fund initiative is a citizen-led effort that seeks to “change the way we fund the efforts that are proven to ensure the health and well-being of our kids across the county: early learning, after school programs, and good nutrition.” In November 2018, the Group successfully qualified a question for the General Election ballot, asking voters:

“Shall the Allegheny County Home Rule Charter be amended to establish the Allegheny County Children’s Fund, funded by Allegheny County levying and collecting an additional 0.25 mills, the equivalent of $25 on each $100,000 of assessed value, on all taxable real estate, beginning January 1, 2019 and thereafter, to be used to improve the well-being of children through the provision of services throughout the County including early childhood learning, after school programs, and nutritious meals?”

While the group exceeded their goal of collecting more than 40,000 petition signatures from community members and stakeholders, the effort fell short as 48.4% of voters answered “YES” on the ballot. A majority (>50%) “YES” vote was needed.

While the question did not receive a majority “YES” vote, community members and stakeholders still agreed that unmet needs remained. With this, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald announced that a 26-member working group had been convened to begin to look at the potential creation of a Children’s Fund to provide resources to early childhood learning and out-of-school-time programs across Allegheny County.

Allegheny County Children’s Fund Tasks

County Executive Fitgerald charged the working group with the following tasks:

    • review available data to assess the state of children and children’s programming in Allegheny County;
    • gather information from providers, parents, and experts across the county, especially regarding programming demand and supply gaps;
    • gather input from the larger community;
    • review state and federal policies and their impact on children’s programming in the county;
    • design the operations of a possible children’s fund;
    • provide concept budgets for operations within budgets of $5 million, $10 million, and $20 million annually;
    • provide sample allocation models and scenarios; and
    • report findings to the County Executive.

Overview of the Report

The working group found that there are significant gaps in equitable access and recommends that a focus on improving the quality of the system would provide significant benefit to the community. The report proposed a mission and vision for a Children’s Fund and identified four core principles: equity, access, quality, and accountability. With this, the group’s annual goal is to ensure that more children in Allegheny County can access high-quality programming. As a long-term goal, the group hopes for systemic improvements for children in Allegheny County.

“An investment of this level is a commitment that focuses on quality and equity for youth in our community,” said Trisha M. Gadson, Ph.D., Co-Chair of the Children’s Fund Working Group. “It can further support the economic viability of our region.”

During its six months of work, the group sought to engage as many voices as possible to receive input and feedback from the community. This process included six public meetings, two focus groups, an online survey (in English and Spanish), and a meeting-in-a-box kit to receive input from teens. In addition to its final report, the group issued a Public Engagement Summary as a companion piece, outlining input from the public on the creation of a Children’s Fund at the county level.

County Executive Fitzgerald thanked the group for their diligent attention, stating, “This issue is important to me and it is important to this community. Nothing could be more impactful to the residents of Allegheny County than investing in our children and their future. While I’ve just begun to dive into this report and its recommendations, it is clear that it calls for a systemic change to be dedicated to children’s success. I’m grateful to the leaders of our community who gave of their time and talents to provide us with a plan to consider and will be continuing this conversation with them as we consider what options make sense for our county moving forward.”

“The importance of the County Executive’s leadership is vital to the success of our children and our region,” said Michelle Figlar, Co-Chair of the Children’s Fund Working Group. “The addition of local leadership and revenue is essential to the success of early learning and out-of-school programs, and Allegheny County has the opportunity to lead in this effort.”

Read the Full Report

To read the full report, visit the Allegheny County website.

Next Steps

The work of the Allegheny County Children’s Fund Working Group is now complete. Follow what happens next with the Working Group’s recommendations at the County Executive’s website or by contacting your member of the Allegheny County Council.

More Information

For more information, visit the Children’s Fund website. Read the full release.

*Information provided by the Office of County Executive Rich Fitzgerald


Co-Parenting Tips When You’re No Longer Together

In a recent article authored by Rebecca Parlakian, Zero to Three highlighted eight tips to help parents and caregivers overcome co-parenting challenges.


While co-parenting is often associated with separated parents, the term actually describes a larger pool of caregivers, including parents, grandparents, or another family member. Essentially, co-parenting refers to situation where adults share the duties of raising and caring for a child. When a relationship changes or ends, it often means a big change in the co-parenting process.

As Parlakain describes, “a strong, respectful co-parenting relationship helps children feel safe and secure.” However, building such a relationship isn’t always easy when parents are no longer married, romantically involved, or in good standing with one another. Learning to work together to raise a child takes time. Recognizing this, Parlakain identified eight co-parenting tips to help caregivers overcome common challenges.

Co-Parenting Tips

    • Remember your new roles (and new boundaries).
    • Keep your child at the center of your co-parenting work.
    • Let go of negative feelings, disappointments, and frustrations.
    • Let your children love your co-parent.
    • Text carefully.
    • Figure out what works for effective communication.
    • Assume the best.
    • Take care of yourself.

For full tip descriptions, read the original article on Zero to Three!

More Information

For more information and co-parenting strategies, visit the Zero to Three website.


October 22, 2019

Webinar Available | Meeting the Requirements of CPSL

In response to changes to the child abuse clearances required of child care providers, the Pennsylvania Child Care Association (PACCA) partnered with the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) to conduct the webinar, “Meeting the Requirements of CPSL: Ensuring the Safety of all Children in Care throughout PA.”


Due to high demand, PACCA posted a recording of their live webinar that was hosted on October 9, 2019. Featuring Tanya Vazquez and Diane Michel from OCDEL’s Bureau of Certification, the webinar discusses changes in Child Protective Services Legislation (CPSL).

Webinar Topics

Webinar topics include:

    • requiring the National Sex Offender Registry verification certificate (NSOR),
    • requiring individuals who have resided outside of Pennsylvania within the past five years to provide clearances from their previous state(s) of residency,
    • and changes to clearance requirements for volunteers and individuals with an ownership interest in regulated child care.

Watch the recording or visit their page to learn more.

More Information

For questions, contact your Regional Office of Child Development and Early Learning:

    • Central Region: 717.772.7078 or 800.222.2117
    • Northeast Region: 570.963.4371 or 800.222.2108
    • Southeast Region: 215.560.2541 or 800.346.2929
    • Western Region: 412.565.5183 or 800.222.2149


October 21, 2019

Count All Kids in the 2020 Census

Did you know that in 2010, five percent of children under the age of five weren’t counted in the 2010 Census? That’s roughly one million young children, the highest of any age group. In 2020, it’s important that we count all kids.

Why It’s Important

The U.S. Census impacts every person’s daily life, acting as a key indicator to inform funding decisions for services and infrastructure in our communities, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the National School Lunch Program, and more. In fact, more than $675 billion in federal funding is directed to states and local communities each year based on census data.

However, due to varying fears, questions, and situations, many families and community members may be unsure of when and who to provide data on. To ensure communities receive the funding they need, families and community members across the United States must ensure that every person is accounted for in the 2020 U.S. Census.

Who Counts?

    • Everyone living in the 50 states, District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories (Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands) is required by law to be counted in the 2020 Census. View special circumstances here.
    • The person filling out the household form should count all children currently living in that household, including nonrelatives and children with no other place to live, even if the living situation is only temporary on April 1.
    • All newborn babies need to be included in Census data, even if they are still in the hospital on Census Day (April 1).
    • If a child spends equal time at two locations, count where the child spent the day on Census Day (April 1) or coordinate between both parties to identify which person will count the child with their Census data. Do not count the child twice.

Submitting Your Data

    • Non-English speakers can self-respond to the Census. An online form and telephone line will be available in 13 languages, including English. Language guides will be available in 59 languages other than English.
    • If you are a young parent with a young child and are living with a relative or household member, ask them to count you and your young child on their Census information.
    • For families who rent or recently moved, complete your Census information online or via phone. That way, you don’t have to worry about your paperwork getting lost during the move.

Safety & Confidentiality 

    • Even if a child is living in a place they aren’t supposed to be, it’s important to count them during Census data collection. Submitted information cannot be used against you or the child.
    • The Census Bureau will never share information with immigration enforcement agencies like Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), law enforcement agencies like the police or Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), or allow this information to be used to determine eligibility for government benefits.
    • The Census will never ask you for your Social Security number, your bank or credit account information, money, or anything on behalf of a political party. Be careful of fraud and scams.


For more information on the 2020 Census, view the following resources that were provided by the U.S. Census Bureau:

Learn More

For questions, visit the FAQ page or call 301.763.4636 or 800.923.8282.

For information on services for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, call the TTY number at 800.877.8339 to reach the Federal Relay Service.

*Information provided by the U.S. Census Bureau


October 18, 2019

ACF Seeks Input On Improving Quality Child Care Access

On October 2, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) posted a Request for Information (RFI) on improving access to affordable, high-quality child care in the United States.


ACF is focused on finding innovative solutions to improve working families’ access to affordable, high quality child care, as well as investigating how access to child care affects America’s workforce, present, and future. Child care is one of the biggest expenses a family faces and can be a barrier to work. The average cost of center-based infant child care in 28 states is more than college tuition.

At the same time, there is concern about the quality of child care and ensuring that child care settings are a place of education that promote and enhance child and youth development and well-being. High-quality child care is a critical investment that pays off now, for parents by enabling them to work, and later, by supporting children’s development and success in school and life. This request for information seeks public comment on innovative ways to address the affordability and access crisis of child care in the U.S., without compromising on quality.

Information collected through this RFI may be used by ACF in the development of future rulemaking and technical assistance, the formation of legislative proposals and research agenda, and/or strategic planning. To learn more, visit the RFI page.

Intended Audience and Stakeholders

AFI is looking to receive input from a wide range of stakeholders, including, but not limited to, parents who use child care; parents of children with disabilities; small child care businesses; employers; state and local chambers of commerce; foundations; faith-based and other community organizations; family child care networks; child care resource and referral agencies; universities and other institutions of higher education; child care workforce development organizations, etc.

RFI Topics

    • Building Supply of Child Care
    • Improving Child Care Regulations
    • Cultivating the Child Care Workforce
    • Developing Better Child Care Business Models
    • Transforming Financing of Child Care and Early Education Programs

Submit Your Comment

To submit a comment, visit the RFI page. All comments must be submitted by December 2, 2019.

*Information provided by the Administration of Children and Families


October 17, 2019

SharedSource Pennsylvania Launches Revamped Website

In October 2019, SharedSource Pennsylvania launched its revamped website, featuring a new layout and at least 74 new resources!


SharedSource Pennsylvania is “a partnership of Pennsylvania Association for the Education of Young Children (PennAEYC), Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children (DVAEYC), Trying Together, and Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC). The alliance promotes shared learning, efficient use of resources and quality improvement in ECE programs across the Commonwealth.”

New Resources

During the launch, SharedSource Pennsylvania highlighted a list of some of its newest resources. With 30 available in Spanish, the resources cover topics including:

    • admin tools;
    • family handbooks;
    • budget planning and preparation;
    • understanding, building, and using business credit;
    • budget tools,
    • marketing your program,
    • family tours,
    • and phone best practices.

Visit the website to see the full list.

More Information

To learn more about SharedSource Pennsylvania, visit their website.


October 11, 2019

Trying Together Launches Grandparent Council

Join early childhood nonprofit Trying Together and become a member of the Grandparent Council!


The Grandparent Council works to ensure all young children receive high-quality care and education. Meeting monthly at varying locations, grandparents:

    • learn more about the importance of an early childhood education,
    • receive guidance and support in identifying high-quality early learning environments,
    • and learn how to advocate for the well-being of all children in our communities.

Meetings will include a conference call option. Visit the Grandparent Council page for more information.

Join the Council

To sign-on and learn more, interested grandparents can:

More Information

For questions, contact Lindsey Ramsey at 412.567.4173 or

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October 10, 2019

Support Pittsburgh Nonprofits by #GivingTogether

Trying Together is excited to announce our participation in this year’s Give Big Pittsburgh event!

What is Give Big Pittsburgh?

Give Big Pittsburgh is an annual day-of-giving hosted by the Pittsburgh Magazine. With this year’s event happening on December 3, Give Big Pittsburgh is a great opportunity for stakeholders and community members to collaboratively raise funds for and learn more about nonprofits working in the Pittsburgh area. Fundraising on the website will remain open until December 31 at 11:59 p.m.

Why Should You Participate?

Because Give Big Pittsburgh uses an online platform, the donation process for #GivingTuesday is quick and simple. Simply add nonprofits and individual donation values to your “Gift Basket” to complete all of your donations in one go. Donors can access their donation receipts online, making it easy to track and report your tax-deductible donations.

Visit the website to get acquainted with the platform and add nonprofits to your basket.

How You Can Participate:

While Give Big Pittsburgh places a focus on raising funds for nonprofits, there are multiple ways to give this #Giving Tuesday:

Donating to Nonprofits

One of the primary ways to participate in #GivingTuesday is to do just that, give. Outside of a small platform fee, all of the money that is donated will go directly to the nonprofit.

Sharing Your Story

Trying Together believes that every person has a place in #GivingTuesday, and with that, we want to ensure that we’re fostering community and relationships during the experience. Because we are an early childhood nonprofit, Trying Together encourages community members to #GiveThanks to an early childhood educator or professional who impacted your life in a positive way. Use #GiveThanks or #GivingTogether on social media to share your story with others as well.

Everyone has a place in #GivingTuesday, and with that, it's important to foster community and relationships during the experience. Sharing kindness, a story, a financial donation. There are plenty of ways to give. #GiveBigPittsburgh #GivingTogetherClick To Tweet

Sharing Nonprofit Donation Pages

On the Give Big Pittsburgh website, there is an arrow button to share a fundraising page link with your network. Another way to give would simply be sharing this opportunity with others. We encourage individuals to interact with us and our pages, whether that’s through sharing our posts or contributing yourself!

Learning More

Although not every Pittsburgh nonprofit will be present, Give Big Pittsburgh is a great opportunity to learn more about local nonprofits and their work in Pittsburgh communities. Visit the website to start exploring.

Save the Date

Give Big Pittsburgh
Tuesday, December 3, 2019
12:00 a.m. – 11:59 p.m.

More Information

For questions regarding participation, donation matching, or access, please contact Lainey Yockey at 412.567.3935 or


October 7, 2019

Raising Readers Tweens & Teens Meet Author Jewell Parker Rhodes

This October, tweens and teens from Trying Together’s Raising Readers Together Club got a chance to meet “Ghost Boys” author, Jewell Parker Rhodes.


In the Spring of 2019, tweens and teens in Trying Together’s Raising Readers Club read “Ghost Boys,” a heartbreaking story about a twelve-year-old boy named Jerome. Weaving historical and socio-political elements into the story, the novel explores “the complexities of today’s world and how one boy grows to understand American blackness in the aftermath of his own death.”

Pittsburgh-native Jewell Parker Rhodes met with our Raising Readers tweens and teens early this month to autograph their books and answer questions about writing techniques. Running weekly, the Raising Readers Together Club explores the importance of acceptance, equality, and tolerance through reading.

About the Author

After entering college as a dance major, Jewell Parker Rhodes discovered that there were novels written by African Americans, for African Americans, and from there, her writing career took flight. After publishing six novels for adults, two writing guides, and a memoir, Jewell continued on to publish five children’s books, including the New York Times bestseller and #1 Kids’ Indie Next Pick “Ghost Boys.” When she’s not writing, Jewell regularly visits schools to talk about her books with children and teaches writing at Arizona State University.

More Information

To learn more about Jewell Parker Rhodes, visit her website.

For more information on the Raising Readers Together Club, contact Cynthia Battle at 412.567.1304 or