March 27, 2020

Pennsylvania Adjusts Mail-In Ballot Deadlines for COVID-19

Pennsylvania is now offering two options that community members can choose from to submit their vote if they are unable to get to the polls on election day, including mail-in and absentee ballots. Registered voters can submit either ballot via mail or in person at their County Election Office. Election and deadline dates for ballots have now changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Thanks to sweeping reforms included in Act 77 of 2019, which take effect for the first time in the upcoming 2020 primary election, mail-in ballots will be available as an effort to increase voter access and security. Mail-in ballots not only offer an additional option for voters who are unable to make it to the polls but also provide a new option for Pennsylvanians who do not qualify for absentee ballots. Both mail-in and absentee voters will receive a ballot in the mail to complete and return to their county election office by 8 p.m. on election day (June 2, 2020).

In order to request either ballot type, you must be registered to vote. Visit Check Your Registration Status to review your registration information. The deadline for voter registration is now May 18, 2020

Absentee Ballots

If you plan to be out of the municipality on election day or if you have a disability or illness, you can request an absentee ballot. Voters will be required to list the reason for submitting this ballot type. This ballot type is best suited for:

    • college students who are not registered to vote at their school address,
    • people whose work or vacation take them away from the municipality where they live,
    • those with a physical disability or illness that prevents them from going to the polling place,
    • members of the military,
    • people who may have a conflict due to the celebration of a religious holiday, and
    • inmates who haven’t be convicted of a felony.
Submit an Application

Applications to receive an absentee ballot for the 2020 primary election must be received by your County Election Office by 5 p.m. on May 26, 2020. Complete the online application by clicking here.

Special election voters can apply for an absentee ballot by completing the paper application form and submitting it to your County Election Office.

Mail-In Ballots

If you aren’t an absentee voter, you may apply for a mail-in ballot. Voters will not be required to list a reason for submitting this ballot type. This ballot type is suited for any person who wishes to submit their vote without visiting a polling place. Please note that mail-in ballots are not available for any election prior to the 2020 primary election.

As of April 17, 2020, all registered voters in Allegheny County will receive a mail-in ballot application in the mail for the June 2 primary election due to the impact of the COVID-19 health crisis. Applications will be mailed with postage-paid addressed envelopes for community members to return their completed applications. Registered voters can also apply online to receive a mail-in ballot.

Submit an Application

Applications to receive a mail-in ballot for the 2020 primary election must be received by your County Election Office by 5 p.m. on May 26, 2020. Complete the online application by clicking here. After receiving your ballot in the mail, your completed ballot must be received no later than 8 p.m. on June 2, 2020.

Registering to Vote

Community members must register to vote at least 15 days before the election. To participate in the 2020 Primary Election, voter registrations must be submitted by May 18, 2020. Individuals can register to vote online, by mail, in person at your county voter registration office, or at a number of government agencies, including PennDOT Photo License and Driver’s License Centers.

For more information on eligibility and registering to vote in Pennsylvania, visit the Votes PA website.

More Information

Visit the Votes PA website for more information on mail-in and absentee ballots, registering to vote in Pennsylvania, what to expect as a first-time voter, upcoming elections, and more.

Information provided by Votes PA and Keystone Votes 

For more information on COVID-19, please visit our COVID-19 Resources page here.


March 23, 2020

Senior Center Alternative Meals Available in Pittsburgh

Senior Center alternative meals will be provided to seniors who are currently registered for normal congregate meal service beginning Friday, March 20, 2020. A pre-packaged (likely frozen) meal will be available through the current food distribution providers that are used through the Allegheny County Area Agency on Aging program. Seniors who are registered for this program have previously identified as being in need and regularly receive these meals.

Available Locations

Pre-packaged meals will be available for take-out only and will be served between 11:00 a.m. through 1 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at these City Healthy Active Living (Senior) Centers:

Approximately 100 meals per day will be distributed to registered seniors.

More Information on Senior Center Alternative Meals

Seniors who are not registered for the program but are in need of food or other resources should contact the Allegheny County Area on Aging’s SeniorLine (1.800.344.4319).

Click here to view the City of Pittsburgh’s original press release.

*Information provided by the City of Pittsburgh


March 19, 2020

UnConference Postponed Due to COVID-19 Concerns

Due to the presence of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Allegheny County and many other Pennsylvania communities, Trying Together has decided to postpone the UnConference: Exceptional Care with a Team Approach to Inclusion, originally scheduled for March 28, 2020.


Trying Together has made this decision out of care for our community and partners, following the Allegheny County Department of Health’s lead and recommendation to postpone large group events. We are sorry for any inconvenience or disappointment this may cause. Like many of those who registered to attend, our organization was very excited about this UnConference topic, our great line-up of workshop presenters, and keynote speaker.

We are actively working with our co-host, The Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh, to reschedule this UnConference to a later date. Please know that this is a postponement, not a cancellation. Trying Together will provide further information in April when more concrete information is available.

Thank you for your understanding and flexibility. Keep up the good handwashing!

More Information

For more information about COVID-19 in Pennsylvania, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Health. For questions regarding this postponement, contact Trying Together at


Four Centers in Pittsburgh Offering Grab and Go Meals

Four city and Salvation Army centers around Pittsburgh will be offering grab-and-go meals for city schoolchildren starting Thursday, March 19, 2020, in conjunction with the Pittsburgh Public Schools.

Available Locations

The Department of Parks and Recreation has received approval to activate grab-and-go meals at the following four locations:

More Information on Grab-and-go Meals

All meal hand-out operations will commence on weekdays (Monday through Friday) from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) will provide 100 grab-and-go lunches for each site. This approach may be re-adjusted to respond to actual needs. For more information on COVID-19, visit our COVID-19 Resources page here.

Click here to view the City of Pittsburgh’s original press release.

*Information provided by the City of Pittsburgh.


March 9, 2020

Interviews with Ms. Barb and Families at the Frank Sarris Library

Prior to the start of the Washington County Focus Week (March 9 – 13, 2020), Trying Together visited staff, families, and young children at the Frank Sarris Public Library in Canonsburg for a reading of Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham.” At the event, library staff member Barbara Somma, aka Ms. Barb, led children and their caregivers through a series of activities, including fingerplays, dances, and a Dr. Seuss themed craft. The classroom included creative play items for the children as well, including a puppet show theater, “grocery market,” books, legos, and more.

After the class, Trying Together had the opportunity to talk with Ms. Barb and two participating caregivers, Karen and Kim. Featured below are our questions and each interviewees’ responses.


Barbara Somma, Class Teacher

Barbara Somma, or as the children call her, “Ms. Barb,” brightens the day of each child and caregiver who attends her classes. Having a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and a Master’s Degree in Special Education under her belt, Ms. Barb spent the last 10 years as a dedicated staff member at the Frank Sarris Public Library. If you stop by the Library, you can catch Ms. Barb leading Storytime, Little Picassos, Wiggles and Giggles, and the Summer Reading Camp! Odds are, she will have a crowd of young children giggling and following her happily!

  • What programming does Frank Sarris Library provide for young children and families?

The Frank Sarris Library offers a plethora of programming for children and families! Monday through Friday, we have activities geared towards preschool level children like storytime, yoga storytime, art, and a class called Wiggles and Giggles that is focused on body movement. During the month of July, we also offer a Summer Reading Camp for children in Kindergarten through fourth grade that includes creative themes like Fairytale Science, Mysical Beasts, and Magic School. They’re all meant to spark each child’s imagination. We offer services all throughout the year though, including books for readers of all ages, creative “Grable Kits,” several e-resources, and more.

  • How can caregivers make literacy experiences meaningful for their young children?

I think by just reading to your children all of the time. Read for 20 minutes a day, every day with your children. As a mother of two, I would always read a couple books with them right before bed. It’s also important to get a library card! They’re free and the library has tons of free resources for young children and families.

  • Why do you feel early childhood development is so important for young children?

Early childhood development is the basis for everything a child needs in life! Children learn from meaningful experiences and repetition. As adults, we need to make sure we are providing the time and patience for those experiences!

  • How do you see your role at the Frank Sarris Library supporting early childhood development in your community?

I think my role is really important here at the Frank Sarris Library. We serve many families and it’s important that we provide children with safe places to go. All of the staff here at the Library serve as role models within the community. However, our Library is an untapped resource. There are so many services that community members could benefit from if they stopped by.

Karen and Granddaughter Ellie

  • How did you like today’s event? What piqued your interest in attending?

Everything Ms. Barb does is truly amazing. I’ve been coming here for seven and a half years and I’ve brought all of my grandchildren. I was interested in attending because I wanted to make sure my grandchildren had social interactions with young children, and Ms. Barb allows the children to have these great social experiences! By coming here, my grandchildren have learned language concepts and vocabulary. Ms. Barb is so dynamic. She exudes engaging and creative energy in everything she does!

  • What’s your favorite book to read to your child? Why?

Ellie doesn’t have a favorite book, she really just loves to read! She is very into the alphabet right now!

Kim and Grandson

  • How did you like today’s event? What piqued your interest in attending?

Ms. Barb is great! Attending this program is the best thing I have done with my grandson! We heard about the children’s programs here through word of mouth. We have been attending since he was about six months old. We love Ms. Barb’s music and freeze dancing!

  • What’s your favorite book to read to your child?

He loves reading Elmo and Mini Mouse right now!

More Information

This session was one of many free services that the Frank Sarris Public Library provides, with options available for learners of all ages. To learn more about their services, visit the Frank Sarris Public Library website! To learn more about the Washington County Focus Week, read our news post!


March 6, 2020

Washington County Focus Week Urges Increased Investments

In March 2020, Trying Together, Pre-K for PA, and Start Strong PA are co-hosting the Washington County Focus Week to highlight the need for increased child care and pre-kindergarten investments in future Pennsylvania budgets.


Taking place from March 9 through March 13, 2020, the Washington County Focus Week seeks to:

    • highlight quality infant and toddler child care in Washington and Allegheny County;
    • thank state policymakers for investments in high-quality early learning programs;
    • document continued unmet need for high-quality child care and pre-k in Washington and Allegheny County;
    • and urge state policymakers to make high-quality child care and pre-k top priorities in future state budgets to increase access to and the affordability of these critical programs.

The Washington County Focus Week is one of many to come. Pre-K For PA, Start Strong PA, and campaign partner organizations like Trying Together will host additional Focus Weeks in districts across the Commonwealth throughout the year. These weeks were developed, in part, due to the need for increased child care funding in the Pennsylvania state budget, as 73 percent of eligible children under the age of five are not receiving high-quality child care services

Why It Matters

According to the Committee for Economic Development’s 2019 Child Care in State Economies Fact Sheet, the average annual cost of child care for an infant in Pennsylvania is $11,560 in a child care center. That is roughly 21 percent of the state’s median income and 80 percent of the cost of tuition and fees at a four-year state college in Pennsylvania. These costs remain a major barrier for many parents and caregivers, especially those who are seeking to enter, re-enter, or remain in the workforce. 

Issues of access are not limited to child care, however, as 56 percent of eligible three- and four-year-olds in Pennsylvania do not have access to high-quality, publicly funded pre-k according to recent data from KIDS COUNT: Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children. Locally, 55 percent of eligible children in Washington County do not have access to high-quality, publicly funded pre-k.

Both Pre-K For PA and Start Strong PA commented on the most recent 2020-2021 Pennsylvania State Budget proposal, stating, “Although the Governor’s budget proposal utilizes $15.3 million in federal funding toward child care subsidy base rates, this proposal will have no impact in addressing the list of children waiting to gain access to subsidized care or improve the quality of that care.”

No Small Matter Screening

On March 12 from 6 – 8 p.m. at the Collier Community Center (which lies on the border of Washington and Allegheny Counties in Oakdale, Pennsylvania) Washington County constituents are invited to attend a free screening and panel discussion of the early childhood documentary, No Small Matter.

Through poignant stories and surprising humor, No Small Matter lays out the overwhelming evidence for the importance of the first five years of life and reveals how our failure to act on that evidence has resulted in an everyday crisis for American families, and a slow-motion catastrophe for the entire country. These crises are playing out in Pennsylvania, as families and caregivers across the Commonwealth are struggling to access high-quality pre-kindergarten and child care programs.

Panelists will include:

    • Senator Camera Bartolotta
    • Representative Jason Ortitay
    • Representative Timothy J. O’Neal
    • Donna Shriver, SmartKids Child Care & Learning Center
    • Audra Redick, The University of Pittsburgh’s Office of Child Development

Visit our event webpage to register and learn more!

More Information

For more information about the Washington County Focus Week and the additional early learning advocacy efforts of Trying Together, contact Cristina Codario, Public Policy Regional Coordinator at 412.567.3673 or

For more information about Pre-K For PA or Start Strong PA, visit and online respectively.


March 5, 2020

New Early Childhood Mental Health Survey Available

The Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) invites early childhood education professionals, family members, higher education staff, and mental, physical, and oral healthcare professionals to take a brief survey regarding their experiences and communications around early social-emotional development.

Survey results will be used to assist the Infant Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (IECMH) Project in developing tools for families and professionals to use in understanding and obtaining supports around early childhood social-emotional health.

Take the Survey

Click here to complete the survey. All surveys must be submitted by April 7, 2020.

More Information on Early Childhood Mental Health

For more information about the IECMH Project, visit the Pennsylvania Key website.

For more early childhood related news, please visit Trying Together’s News Section here.

*Information provided by The Pennsylvania Key


March 3, 2020

Remake Learning Offers Summer Professional Development Portal

Summer in the Greater Pittsburgh Area is not only filled with sunshine and warmth, it’s also filled with special intensives, camps, and other summer training opportunities. That’s why Remake Learning launched its Summer Professional Development portal, highlighting local professional learning opportunities that will happen in summer 2020!


Remake Learning‘s Summer Professional Development portal is a curated collection of innovative, educator-led, and hands-on learning opportunities that are hosted in June, July, and August. By visiting the portal, community members can learn about and register for sessions covering a variety of topics, including making, STEAM, project-based learning, coding camps, and more!

The portal is regularly updated as new opportunities are made available. To view current opportunities, visit the Remake Learning website.

More Information

If you would like to add your professional learning opportunity to the list, start by submitting your event to the Remake Learning calendar! Please note that this calendar focuses on opportunities, professional development, and events specifically for educators and youth-centered organizations.

For questions or more information, contact