November 26, 2019

2020 Early Childhood Education Advocacy Fellowship

Trying Together invites early care and education professionals to apply to its 2020 Early Childhood Education (ECE) Advocacy Fellowship to strengthen their voice as an early childhood advocate. Online applications are being accepted now through Tuesday, December 31 at 11:59 p.m.


In this nine-month program, ECE Advocacy Fellows:

    • develop their role as a “change-maker”;
    • harness their leadership skills;
    • learn to use research-based communication strategies to build positive impact;
    • gain knowledge of public policy processes and key players, and their effect on their work; and
    • receive a stipend (along with their employer) for their time.

At this time, Trying Together offers the fellowship program at no cost to the participant and will provide lunch and snacks at each session. Travel stipends are available on a case-by-case basis.

Intended Audience

Trying Together’s ECE Advocacy Fellowship has been designed for professionals working in the early care and education field, including:

    • center administrators and teachers;
    • family child care providers;
    • school-age child care providers;
    • Head Start teachers;
    • pre-k teachers;
    • PK-4 teachers and principals;
    • home visitors;
    • trainers;
    • professors of higher education; and
    • child care resource and referral professionals.

Session Details

From January–September 2020, Fellows will meet as a group on the last Tuesday of each month (tentatively) from 12:00-4:00 p.m. Dates are subject to change but will be finalized in January 2020. Participants should expect an additional two to four hours of work every month. We recognize that conflicts may arise unexpectedly, but each participant should plan to participate in all program activities if accepted into the Fellowship.

At each workshop, an informed early childhood, public policy, or community leader will facilitate, drawing on information from regional or national experts to share the latest news, research, and strategies to improve early childhood public policy. Workshops will include opportunities for networking, professional growth, and community development.

Application Details

Online applications are being accepted now through Tuesday, December 31 at 11:59 p.m. Our selection committee seeks to admit an evenly balanced cohort with regard to geography, diversity, experience, interest, etc. All participants will be notified by the first week of January 2020.

To apply, visit the ECE Advocacy Fellowship page.

More Information

For more information about our public policy efforts at Trying Together, contact Cristina Codario by email at or by calling 412.567.3673.


November 20, 2019

Grandparents Caring for Young Children Need Support

Across the United States of America, grandparents are struggling to make ends meet after claiming custody over their grandchildren. While, in many cases, these grandparents are claiming custody to keep their grandchildren safe, healthy, and supported, many are doing so with little to no support. In her article, Grandparents Caring for Their Grandchildren Happens for a Variety of Reasons, Susan Pena explores this complex issue.


In her article, Susan Pena expresses that the opioid crisis is far-reaching, with many having friends, family members, or loved ones who have been affected. With this, some of the most at-risk individuals impacted by this crisis are the children of adults struggling with addiction and the challenges that come with it. Pena states that “often grandparents are on the front lines of this crisis, raising their grandchildren–or even, in some cases, great-grandchildren, while struggling with their own financial and health issues.” Many are doing it with little to no outside support.

Grandparents and older family members can claim primary custody over relative children for many reasons, some of which include:

    • the incarceration or death of a loved one,
    • loved ones impacted by substance use or addiction, and
    • unsafe living conditions for a young child.

In her powerful piece, Pena highlights three real-life stories of grandparent caregivers. Read the full article to learn more.

What You Can Do

KinConnector Helpline

If you’re a grandparent caregiver seeking support, call the KinConnector Helpline at 866.546.2111 for more information on resources, including help with financial, health, and legal issues; training and parental advice; and nearby support groups. The Helpline is open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Trying Together Grandparent Council

If you’re a grandparent who is interested in working to ensure all young children receive high-quality care and education, consider joining Trying Together’s Grandparent Council. The Council meets monthly to:

    • learn more about the importance of 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.

Visit our Grandparent Council page to learn more.

More Information

To read the full article, visit the Reading Eagle website.


November 15, 2019

Pennsylvania Expands Home Visiting Support

In October 2019, the Wolf Administration announced that, under the guidance of the Department of Human Services (DHS), it is expanding home visiting supports to first-time mothers and mothers of children with special needs covered by Medicaid. The expansion, made possible in collaboration with physical health Medicaid managed care organizations (MCOs), will guarantee at least two home visits to new parents and families with children with additional risk factors across Pennsylvania, expanding access to evidence-based models that promote and support healthy child and family development.


Since 2015, investments totaling nearly $16.5 million in state funds have helped increase the number of children and families who can receive home visiting supports in communities around Pennsylvania. Guaranteeing a minimum of two home visits to all first-time mothers and mothers of children with special needs through Medicaid continues this work.

“Being a parent can be a challenge for anyone,” said Secretary Miller. “Because children don’t come with an instruction manual, home visiting programs create support systems for families to learn to better understand children’s needs, monitor milestones, and identify other opportunities for support that can continue to facilitate healthy long-term growth.”

The home visiting expansion is effective January 1, 2020 through the MCOs’ 2020 agreement. Under the new agreements, MCOs will be required to establish an evidence-based, standardized maternal, infant, and early childhood home visitation program for all first-time parents and parents of infants with additional risk factors. All parents and children identified through this effort will receive at least two home visits at no cost, and depending on need, may be referred to other established home visiting programs to continue these services. DHS expects that these programs will be in place with eligible new parents receiving home visiting services by July 1, 2020.

“There is no more important focus of my administration than giving all children and families a strong start,” Gov. Wolf said. “By expanding access to evidence-based home visiting programs, we will put more kids, parents, and families on a path to a healthy, happy future.”

What is Home Visiting?

Evidence-based home visiting family support programs have a family-centered focus and strength-based approach that works with both the child and parent. A home visitor can help parents gain the skills and connect to resources necessary to improve their family’s health, safety, economic security, and success in early childhood education.

Studies of various nurse-family partnership programs have shown positive impacts for the mother and baby during pregnancy and after birth, such as a decrease in domestic violence and smoking during pregnancy, a significant decrease in pre-term births, and a majority of babies being born at a healthy weight. Home visiting can also improve parents’ child development knowledge and skills, help develop social support systems, and improve access to education, health, and community services.

Examples of services include:

    • monthly parent meetings;
    • regularly scheduled home visits with trained family development specialists; and
    • routine screenings to identify post-partum depression and detect potential problems with vision, hearing, growth, and learning age-based milestones.

What You Can Do

While there have been increased investments in home visiting, only 15,900 children are estimated to be served in the current state fiscal year. That’s only five percent of the children who would benefit from these services the most. Join the statewide campaign Childhood Begins at Home in advocating to maintain and build on state investments in evidence-based home visiting.

More Information

For more information, read the full release.

*Information provided by the Governor Tom Wolf Administration


November 13, 2019

Investments in Early Childhood Support Workforce Readiness

On November 12, 2019, Governor Tom Wolf joined Pennsylvania’s Adjutant General Major General Anthony Carrelli and retired generals and admirals from Mission: Readiness to release the nonprofit organization’s workforce readiness report. The report outlines how competition for qualified individuals among all employment sectors affects military recruiting efforts and warrants greater investment in our next generation.


In their report, Mission: Readiness identifies research-based solutions to improve the health and education of young adults with the goal of making them more likely to successfully contribute to America’s workforce, including military service if they so choose. With this, they document wins for Pennsylvanians that Mission: Readiness supported in the areas of early childhood education; equitable and adequate K-12 education funding; and youth fitness and nutrition.

Retired Air Force Lieutenant General Ralph Jodice spoke out on the importance of early childhood, stating, “Research is clear that brain development from birth to age five sets the foundation for children’s future success. High-quality child care and early education programs like pre-k set the stage for readiness by improving children’s cognitive ability, health, and behavior throughout life.

Governor Wolf spoke on his support of early childhood investments, stating that he is “committed to making investments in education at all ages to help ensure we provide Pennsylvanians with the skills needed for every open job,” including open positions with Pennsylvania National Guard and all branches of the military. Building on this statement, Governor Wolf said that “we owe it to the men and women currently serving in the Pennsylvania National Guard and all branches of the military to give them the best possible future troops. That means ensuring we’re providing the best education possible to potential enlistees, starting at the earliest ages, when children learn quickly and eagerly.”

What You Can Do

Every child deserves an equal opportunity to a quality educational foundation that will prepare them to grow, learn, and succeed. That’s why Trying Together participates in multiple advocacy campaigns, including Pre-K for PA and Start Strong PA. Will you join us?

    • Join Pre-K for PA and advocate for high-quality pre-k access for every 3- and 4-year old in Pennsylvania.
    • Join Start Strong PA and advocate for all young children in Pennsylvania to have access to high-quality child care programs that their families can afford.

Visit our Take Action page to learn more!

More Information

For access to the video and full press release, visit the PAcast website.


Supporting Young Children During Transitions

Writing for Child Mind Institute, Katherine Martinelli recently authored “How Can We Help Kids With Transitions,” highlighting key tips and advice for parents and caregivers seeking to support their young children.


When it comes to transitions–to kindergarten, a new program, or a new routine–young children often struggle. When children whine, stall, meltdown, or have a tantrum, some parents and caregivers aren’t sure where to turn. In an effort to empower these caregivers, Katherine Martinelli authored an article highlighting eight tips for supporting young children during the transition process, mentioning that these supports may be especially important for children with ADHD, anxiety, autism, or sensory sensitivities.

Tips & Advice

    • Create Routines
      Setting routines for daily activities such as bedtime, taking a bath, or putting away toys can play a big role in reassuring children during such transitions.
    • Preview and Count Down
      In addition to routines, providing a clear outline of what the day will entail can help children adequately prepare for transitions to come. Caregivers can do this in the morning with their children, paired with countdowns throughout the day. Before each transition, give your child a timeframe and description of what’s going to happen next.
    • Give It a Soundtrack
      Songs are a great tool to encourage routines and ease transitions. By creating songs for things such as cleaning up, bedtime, and getting ready to leave, caregivers establish a recognizable, fun indicator that a transition is happening. This tip works especially well with young children.
    • Visual Cues
      Some children may benefit from visual clues, such as a chart or poster with drawings that explain what to expect or the steps of a transition. Parents and caregivers can easily reference these visual cues during the transition to help walk children through the process.
    • Get Their Attention
      Many parents and caregivers know that simply yelling at children from across the room will only lead to frustration for both parties. Instead, caregivers are encouraged to make a connection with the child to ensure the child is giving their full attention. This could mean eye contact, a hand on the shoulder, sitting next to them, or asking them to repeat back what has been said.
    • Use Rewards
      Reward systems can be beneficial in schools and at home, especially during the early phases of a new transition. Using rewards such as stickers, snacks, or a point system can be effective in supporting positive behaviors. With this, the reward system can be phased out as a child gets closer to mastering the transition.
    • Implement Appropriate Consequences
      If a child exhibits negative behaviors during a transition, ignore the negative behavior rather than escalating the situation. However, if a child is egregiously misbehaving, parents and caregivers should implement “appropriate consequences for that behavior that makes the child understand that behavior is off-limits.”
    • Praise Good Transitioning
      Praise and recognition play a vital role in reinforcing positive behaviors. Martinelli recommends that caregivers be specific in their praise, following up with a reward when appropriate.

More Information

For more tips and advice on supporting children during transitions, read the full article on the Child Mind Institute website.


November 8, 2019

Pediatrician For President Educates & Activates Community

In October 2019, Pediatrician For President launched his campaign to educate, motivate, and activate supporters and community leaders on early childhood issues.


Are you passionate about improving the health and wellbeing of children in the United States of America? Consider supporting Pediatrician For President in his campaign to engage, entertain, and educate the community on the following concepts:

    • there is a national need to put a greater focus on Kids Health (and everything that impacts health);
    • science and evidence-based medicine is important and should guide our path; and
    • we could all spread more kindness and appreciate the kindness we receive.

Pediatrician For President is a project established by Kids Plus Pediatrics. While Dr. Todd Wolynn will be portraying the character of Pediatrician For President, Wolynn is not running for president.

About the Issues

Pediatrician For President launched his campaign on the following beliefs:

1. Significant changes and investments are needed in Kids Health.

    • Currently, the United States healthcare system is failing kids. “We need care – not coverage!”
    • Moms, dads, caregivers, and community health are suffering and must be addressed to support the healthy development and wellbeing of children.
    • We need meaningful Social Determinants of Health (SDoH) solutions.
    • Human dignity and respect must be given to nurture the best in people.

2. Science is good (not perfect) but continues to improve and is a key to guiding our path.

    • Research is necessary to continue to improve science and its guidance and requires significant support.
    • We must reaffirm what science indicates as fact and dispel myths.
    • Anti-science efforts must be combated and their ulterior motives to monetize, polarize, and politize must be exposed.

3. Kindness is abundant and renewable if we’re mindful and generous.

    • This is not a plea for civility. Rather, the campaign seeks to remind us to keep our hearts open.
    • The campaign will never suggest that people should not be angry. However, the campaign is rooted in a positive approach and with the intention to bring necessary change.
    • We are all human, we are all connected, and compassion is good. Compassion puts us on the path to bring change to resolve suffering.

Why Should You Support?

Pediatrician For President:

    • is completely aligned with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) policies and positions and will frequently direct and refer to AAP policies, statements, and resources;
    • is kind, passionate, and respectful: he will never sling mud, swear, or insult;
    • emulates Mister Rogers’ from his deep, true nurturing of his Congressional testimony combined with ‘Kid President’ matter-of-fact awesomeness;
    • and his superpowers are his Pediatrician’s desire to help kids and families, his trust of the community, and his drive to bring about positive change

The Plan

Pediatrician For President is a centrist campaign – similarly to how the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) achieves bi-partisan support with a “Put Kids First” agenda. The campaign believes that kids, science, and kindness are three issues that many community members are passionate about and are willing to stand behind to make the United States of America and the world a better place. Pediatrician For President will never attack, celebrate, or acknowledge any particular political party or candidate. Rather, he will stay focused on the issues while reminding everyone about what makes us human and connected.

Pediatricians, Pediatric Providers, and Pediatric Practices are some of the most trusted professions and organizations in the United States of America. While initial support may come from these groups, the campaign hopes families, friends, and their friends will rally behind this effort to better the lives of children and the community.

Follow the Campaign

Thus far, Pediatrician For President has stops planned in New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Washington D.C., New York, Philadelphia, Miami, Denver, San Francisco, and more! In cities across the United States of America, the candidate will visit healthcare workers, universities, landmarks, and other key opportunities. In fact, he’ll even be shaking a lot of hands, holding babies, and taking selfies with fans. Don’t worry – he will be carrying Purell!

If you’re interested in following his progress, follow Pediatrician For President on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. There, he will be sharing posts and photo updates about the campaign and his journey. Will you support his campaign to help improve kid’s health and wellbeing?


Pennsylvania Announces 2019 Market Rate Survey

The Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) invites all Pennsylvania certified child care providers to participate in the 2019 Market Rate Survey.


Every three years, states conduct a Market Rate Survey (MRS) to update information regarding the prices child care providers charge families. With the last official MRS conducted in 2016, OCDEL invites all certified child care providers in Pennsylvania to submit their published private pay rates. By providing this information, child care providers help OCDEL paint a more accurate picture of child care prices in Pennsylvania and will provide an important database to compare private pay prices with the Child Care Works reimbursement base rates.

How to Participate

The survey is available online from October 7 through December 30, 2019 within the PELICAN Provider Self-Service Portal. Participation will require a username and password to enter. For assistance on enrolling in Provider Self-Service or updating your child care prices if you do not have access to Provider Self-Service, contact your local Early Learning Resource Center (ELRC).

Information from all child care providers is important, even if your private pay prices have not changed. If your prices remained the same, please update the “effective date” within the Provider Self-Service Portal. Any changes made between October 7 and December 30, 2019 will be included.

Click here for instructions on how to complete the Survey using Provider Self-Service.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Market Rate Survey?

In order to comply with federal requirements and continue to draw down federal dollars from the Child Care Development Block Grant for the operation of the Child Care Works (CCW) child care subsidy program, OCDEL is required to complete a periodic Market Rate Survey (MRS). The MRS collects information from all regulated child care providers about their published private pay rates. Providers should participate in the MRS and confirm or report updates to their private pay rates using Provider Self Service (PSS) or, if not enrolled in PSS, by contacting their Early Learning Resource Center (ELRC).

What does the term “market rate” mean?

The “market rate” is interpreted as the rate which families are asked to pay, and which is published in program literature. The market rate does not reflect any discounts.

Will I be audited for updating my published rates?

Probably not. OCDEL has required verification in the past, and ELRCs have on occasion called a sampling of providers to check, but this is not the plan for this year’s MRS. However, providers should still only share published rates that they can verify if needed, and is the rate charged to most families.

What qualifies as a “discount?”

“Discounts” reflect allowances for families to pay a lower rate. For example, Comcast advertises its rate to clients, but frequently offers specials and discounts for loyal customers and new clients. Child care providers who typically charge $100 but who can offer discounts and specials to lower the price to $80 should still report their rate as $100. The MRS is not designed to capture any discounts that individual providers may choose to offer; it captures ONLY a provider’s published private pay rate.

What do they mean by “published?”

“Publishing” includes your website, your family handbook, any written contracts, or the rate visible on COMPASS.

What is the Child Care Works (CCW) reimbursement rate?

The Child Care Works (CCW) reimbursement rate is the rate that providers are reimbursed by the state for providing care to children who are eligible for CCW. This rate is based on the current market rate as provided through the MRS and is determined in part during the appropriations process. Because many providers also serve children who are not eligible for CCW reimbursement, providers must maintain a separate market rate for private pay families, and report this rate when completing their MRS rather than the CCW reimbursement rate.

Why participate in the Market Rate Survey?

It is important that each provider updates their private pay rates so that OCDEL has the necessary data to consider future Child Care Works base rate increases.

Learn More

To learn more, view the full announcement or contact your local ELRC.

*Information provided by OCDEL


November 6, 2019

T.E.A.C.H. Scholarship Spring 2020 Deadline

Early childhood education professionals interested in attending college for the spring semester (beginning January 2020) can submit applications to receive a T.E.A.C.H. (Teacher Education And Compensation Helps) scholarship.


The Pennsylvania Child Care Association (PACCA) offers a variety of T.E.A.C.H. scholarships to meet the needs of the early care and education workforce in center and home-based settings. Eligible applicants must:

    • work a minimum of 25-30 hours per week directly with children in a DHS-certified child care program;
    • make $19 or less an hour ($25 or less per hour for directors);
    • be interested in pursuing coursework at a participating college toward a degree or credential in early childhood; and
    • Bachelor’s degree applicants must meet additional eligibility criteria, which includes having at least 55 transferable credits towards a degree in Early Childhood Education or equivalent.

Scholarship awards are dependent upon the availability of funds and priorities of funders. See the brochure.

Application Details

To be considered for the Spring 2020 semester, T.E.A.C.H. applications must be completed and submitted with all required documentation by Friday, November 15, 2019. PACCA will continue to accept applications on an ongoing basis, however, incomplete applications and applications received after this date will not receive priority for consideration. New scholarship awards for the Spring 2020 semester will be dependent upon funding availability at that time.

Interested applicants should also begin the college admissions process now and contact an early childhood education advisor at their intended college/university.  This helps to ensure that scholarship applicants are admitted to their college/university and can register for courses if/when they receive a T.E.A.C.H. scholarship. T.E.A.C.H. can provide contact information for early childhood education advisors at partnering institutions if needed.

Click here to download a scholarship application.

More Information

To learn more, visit the PACCA website.

For questions, contact a T.E.A.C.H. Counselor at 717-657-9000 or

*Information provided by PACCA