December 20, 2019

CDA Renewal Amnesty Program Begins January 1, 2020

For a limited time, early childhood professionals whose Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential lapsed or expired can take advantage of a CDA Renewal Amnesty program.


Running from January 1, 2020 to March 31, 2020, the CDA Renewal Amnesty program provides early childhood education professionals who completed their CDA but did not submit a renewal in time to keep the CDA current an opportunity to reinstate their credential.

The renewal program is eligible for Rising Stars Tuition Assistance (RSTA). Professionals interested in applying for assistance must complete their profile in the PD Registry to access the Financial Assistance tab. For more information about RSTA, visit the PA Key website.

Eligibility Requirements

To qualify, professionals must meet the following eligibility requirements:

All applications and payments ($125) must be submitted online by March 31, 2020.

PDOs and New CDA Cohorts

Pennsylvania’s Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) is implementing statewide Professional Development Organizations (PDOs). PDOs will specialize in access to credit-bearing coursework and credentials for the early childhood education (ECE) workforce. Shippensburg University and Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC) were selected as the PDOs in Pennsylvania. See a regional map.

While PDOs begin their work, The Pennsylvania Key contracted with several organizations and institutes of higher education, including Trying Together and Early Learning Resource Center (ELRC) Region 5, to offer community-based cohorts so that individuals attempting to obtain a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential can complete the 120 hours of coursework and receive additional support. This opportunity is only available for 2019-20. Space in these cohorts is limited.

For more information about Trying Together and ELRC Region 5’s CDA program, contact Jan Sapotichne at or 412.350.3604.

Learn More

To learn more about the CDA Renewal Amnesty program, visit the Council for Professional Recognition website.

*Information provided by the Pennsylvania Key


December 19, 2019

Head Start Coaching Companion Available

If you are an early care and education professional who is interested in receiving coaching feedback and sharing videos, consider using the Head Start Coaching Companion!


By utilizing the Head Start Coaching Companion, early childhood professionals will view examples of teaching practices, record their teaching interactions, and track their progress using three major components of Practice-Based Coaching (PBC), including:

    • shared goals and action planning;
    • focused observation; and
    • reflection and feedback.

Though PBC was designed with Head Start programs in mind, it aligns with a variety of coaching models.


To utilize the Head Start Coaching Companion, professionals should have access to a computer, tablet, or smartphone with basic video editing software; a digital video camera, tablet, or smartphone with video capability; and reliable internet access. Video footage will be utilized to record teaching interactions.

See the Head Start Coaching Companion handout to learn more.

Learn More

To get started, educators can submit a Coaching Companion application and learn more online. View the Coaching Companion PDF or email for additional information.

*Information provided via Early Learning Resource Center (ELRC) Region 5


December 18, 2019

Online Resource: Supporting Children with Hearing Loss

To support families and professionals who interact with children with hearing loss, Early Intervention Technical Assistance (EITA) developed an online resource titled, “Getting Started: Supporting Children with Hearing Loss.”


In the first section of their free course, EITA says that “families who have just received word that their child is deaf or hard of hearing can display a wide range of reactions,” with most wondering what caused the hearing loss in the first place. To increase family and professional knowledge and awareness about hearing, hearing loss, and available supports in Pennsylvania, EITA created the “Getting Started: Supporting Children with Hearing Loss” course. In it, EITA highlights important information and resources, including first steps, communication and language resources, best practices, and more.

Click here to view the resource.

More Information

For more information and to access the resource, visit the EITA website.


December 17, 2019

PHAN Transportation and Health Survey

Are you interested in sharing your voice to support your community? Participate in the Pennsylvania Health Action Network’s (PHAN) new survey on transportation and health! Survey responses will be confidential and should take roughly four minutes to complete. The survey will include questions about transportation for going to the doctor, dentist, a clinic, getting a test or lab done, or other kinds of health visits, such as mental health or substance use disorder treatment.

Take the Survey

The survey is available in both English and Spanish and can be completed using the following links:

More Information

If you have any questions, please reach out to Jessy Foster at


December 16, 2019

PDO Needs Assessment Survey: Upcoming Deadline

Early care and education professionals in southwestern Pennsylvania are being asked to take the Professional Development Organization (PDO) Needs Assessment Survey.


From now through December 31, 2019, PDOs are performing a needs assessment with early childhood professionals by region and will develop a strategic plan and timetable for each. The survey will take approximately 10 – 15 minutes. Responses will be used to finalize the work plan and timeline for the Southwest and other regions that Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania will serve. Following this period, community outreach will begin. Click here to take complete the survey.

During this transition, professionals who wish to obtain their Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential can find credit-bearing coursework through Westmoreland County Community College and Harrisburg Area Community College.


The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services’ (DHS) Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) announced the selection of its six regional PDOs in October 2019. The PDOs were created to coordinate and facilitate access to credit-bearing coursework and credentials for early care and education professionals in Pennsylvania. PDOs support direct access across each service region for the early childhood workforce to participate in continuing education through a mixed delivery model and coordinate with the Early Learning Resource Centers in improving the quality of early learning programs.

The regional PDO selection for the Southwest region is Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania. The Shippensburg PDO also supports the Central, Northeast, and Northwest regions. See the regional PDO map here.

More Information

To learn more about PDOs, read the Pennsylvania Key’s announcement.

*Information provided by OCDEL 


December 13, 2019

2019-20 Carton 2 Garden Contest Receiving Entries

Are you interested in building or enhancing your school garden? Evergreen Packaging and are hosting the sixth national Carton 2 Garden Contest!


The Carton 2 Garden Contest is open to public and private schools, with contest winners selected based on their implementation of an innovative garden creation featuring creative, sustainable uses for repurposed milk and juice cartons. Schools can get started by collecting at least 100 empty cartons from homes, the community, or their cafeteria. After gathering the cartons, schools design and construct purposeful garden items and structures using them. For ideas, view last year’s winners.

Eligibility & Entry

Carton 2 Garden is open to all K-12 public and private schools in the United States. Schools do not need a garden to participate. Pre-k classes located at schools serving additional elementary, middle, and/or high school grade levels may also enter the contest. With this, all entries must document and share their gardening experience through an online entry form and submission of up to 10 photos.

To be eligible for the grand prize and specialty prizes, entries must also include a video link (under five minutes) that tells the story of the project in its entirety. View the Entry Form Checklist. Every student that appears in photos or videos must have an accompanying signed parent release form submitted with your entry. The form is also available in Spanish.

All entries must be submitted by midnight on Wednesday, April 1, 2020. Click here to access the online entry form.


Fifteen entries will be selected to receive award packages for their efforts, including:

    • one grand prize winner who will receive a prize valued at $5,000;
    • four winners, selected for exemplary demonstration in the following specialty areas: Carton Act in the Garden, Environmental Stewardship, Health and Nutrition, and STEM; who will receive a prize valued at $2,000 each; and
    • ten winners (five middle/high schools and five elementary schools) who will receive award packages valued at $1,000 each.

More Information

To learn more about the Carton 2 Garden Contest, visit the Kids Gardening website.


December 12, 2019

NAFCC Calls for National Conference Workshop Proposals

The National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC) is currently seeking workshop proposals for the 30th National Family Child Care Conference, taking place in Norfolk, Virginia July 15-18, 2020. NAFCC works to support and leverage a nationwide network of providers and partners in expanding and promoting the power of family child care.


Workshop proposals should focus on family child care providers and the many qualities that make family child care unique to early care and education. Attendees are looking for sessions that focus on practical solutions to increase their knowledge and effectiveness; to engage and challenge their thinking; and to nurture their purpose, creativity, and professional excellence. Presenters should focus their content for the various roles in family child care, such as:

    • family child care providers;
    • early Head Start community;
    • child nutrition community;
    • coaches, mentors, and trainers;
    • family child care networks; and/or
    • state agencies.

Many conference attendees have a strong background in family child care and programs, so advanced level workshops are encouraged, as are Spanish speaking presentations.

Submit Your Proposal

If you’re interested in submitting a workshop proposal, visit the NAFCC website. Proposals must be submitted by January 15, 2020. Click here to learn more.

*Information provided by the Pennsylvania Key


December 11, 2019

Early Language and Literacy Chats | Winter Sessions

Join the Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) and Early Intervention Technical Assistance (EITA) this winter to discuss hot topics around early language and literacy development. From January through March 2020, 3o-minute chat sessions will be hosted on the second and fourth Friday at 8:30 a.m and repeated at 1:30 p.m. Participants will gain access to resources to share with families and use in their classrooms and centers. PQAS credit hours and infant/toddler hours available.

Available Dates

    • January 10, 2020: Those First Words
    • January 24, 2020: Conversations with Kids
    • February 7, 2020: Books, Books, Books!
    • February 21, 2020: Print is Everywhere
    • March 6, 2020: Sounds All Around!
    • March 20, 2020: Celebrating Dual Language Learners

More Information

For more information, visit the event Padlet page.

*Information provided by the Pennsylvania Key


December 10, 2019

PDE Releases New Family Engagement Framework

The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) has released the Pennsylvania Family Engagement Birth through College, Career, Community Ready Framework.

About The PDE Family Engagement Framework

As a collaborative initiative between PDE’s Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) and Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE), the Pennsylvania Family Engagement Birth through College, Career, and Community Ready Framework is a tool to guide learning communities in the implementation of effective practices, use of shared language, and application of a family engagement continuum for families across their child’s educational lifespan. With this, the framework includes Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)-aligned Family Engagement resources and information for local education agencies (LEAs).

Beginning with early learning programs through K-12, effective family engagement is critical to supporting a child’s learning and development. In fact, research has demonstrated that regardless of socioeconomic background, when schools, families, and community groups work together to support learning, children perform better academically, enjoy school more, remain in school longer, and have better long-term outcomes such as higher graduation rates, improved post-secondary educational attainment, and increased career readiness.

By establishing this framework, PDE seeks to foster a clear path by identifying a set of common standards of how learning communities can plan and implement family engagement practices. Members of Pennsylvania’s learning communities can employ this framework, with communities including programs and schools to which PDE provides funding, guidance, and monitoring.

More Information

For more information on the framework, visit the PDE’s website.

*Information provided by the Pennsylvania Key


December 7, 2019

PA DHS Releases 2019-2022 Strategic Plan

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (PA DHS) released its 2019-2022 Strategic Plan outlining methods to assist Pennsylvanians in achieving “safe, healthy, and productive lives while being an accountable steward of commonwealth resources.”


In an opening message from PA DHS Secretary Teresa Miller, Miller highlights the core values and mission of PA DHS, stating:

“We strive every day to make sure…that every Pennsylvanian can be secure in the knowledge that they have somewhere to turn on that nearly inevitable day when they find themselves or a friend or family member struggling, perhaps with a physical or intellectual disability, addiction, cancer, abuse, mental illness, or any number of circumstances. DHS exists to protect and advocate for some of our most vulnerable Pennsylvanians, and we are steadfastly committed to that work.”

With this, the plan highlights DHS’ Strategic Priorities to continue improving and streamlining its programs to fulfill its mission to “assist Pennsylvanians in achieving safe, healthy, and productive lives” and protect Pennsylvanians under the care of licensed providers.

DHS Strategic Priorities

The PA DHS Strategic Plan priorities include:

    • providing every child with a strong foundation for physical and behavioral well-being;
    • bending the health cost curve;
    • enhancing access to health care and services that help Pennsylvanians lead healthy, productive lives;
    • promoting accountable and transparent government.

More Information

For more information on DHS’ 2019-2022 Priorities, read the full Strategic Plan. To learn more about Trying Together, visit our Home page.