April 30, 2020

Mayor Peduto Calls for Online SNAP Purchasing Options

On April 28, Mayor William Peduto issued a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue in support of efforts to expand affordable SNAP purchasing options — including food delivery and online ordering — for vulnerable populations during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Mayor Peduto’s letter follows calls by U.S. Senator Bob Casey and others to expand the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which provides eligible low-income residents with an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) debit card to purchase food.

Currently, SNAP recipients cannot make any food purchases online. While other consumers can use online ordering and delivering to protect themselves and others from spreading the virus, these options are not available to low-income residents and families who are forced to make their purchases in person, increasing their likelihood of contracting COVID-19.

Senator Casey has been calling on the USDA to expand SNAP delivery options since March when stay-at-home guidelines were put into effect in Pennsylvania and across the United States of America. The Food Policy Council wants the USDA to allow SNAP recipients to purchase food for delivery and to allow other safe food purchasing options, such as allowing users to use their EBT cards for Instacart or online farmers market services.

What is SNAP?

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides nutrition benefits to supplement the food budget of low-income families so they can purchase healthy food. Eligible applicants receive an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) ACCESS Card to make food purchases. To check your eligibility or apply, please visit the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services website.

For questions about SNAP, call the Department of Human Services helpline at 1.800.692.7462 or your county assistance office. For individuals with hearing impairments, please call 1.800.451.5886.

More on SNAP Purchasing Options

To learn more, view the full press release or a copy of the letter to Secretary Perdue.

*Information provided by the City of Pittsburgh


April 28, 2020

APOST Requests Virtual Summer Conference Workshop Submissions

The Allegheny Partners for Out-of-School Time (APOST) will be hosting a Virtual Summer Conference for Out-of-School Time from Tuesday, May 26 through Friday, June 5, 2020. At this time, APOST is accepting workshop submissions from education leaders. Continue reading below to learn more.


The Virtual Summer Conference for Out-of-School Time will target youth workers in out-of-school time and summer settings. This includes frontline staff, program managers, executive directors, mentors, and more. In regard to workshop submissions, APOST is looking for depth of experience and expertise rather than breadth.

With this, they strongly encourage workshops focused on the following themes:

    • social-emotional learning;
    • community trauma and trauma-informed care;
    • health and wellness in out-of-school time;
    • creating inclusive spaces in out-of-school time;
    • engaging children and parents during COVID-19;
    • how to speak to youth about COVID-19; and
    • ways to successfully implement virtual programming.

Workshop sizes will most likely not be capped as this event will be virtual, but facilitation preference will be left up to the presenters.

Submit Your Proposal

To learn more or submit a proposal, please complete APOST’s online form. All submissions must be received by Tuesday, May 5. Event hosts send out their final decision on Friday, May 8.

More Information

For questions or more information, contact APOST at 412.456.6876 or


April 17, 2020

CHIP Will Maintain Enrollment During COVID-19 Crisis

On April 15, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) announced that it is “making temporary changes to Pennsylvania’s Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to keep families enrolled in CHIP for the duration of the public health emergency and to ease access to medical services for children being screened or receiving treatment for COVID-19.

What is CHIP?

The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is Pennsylvania’s program to provide health insurance to uninsured children and teens who are not eligible for or enrolled in Medical Assistance. For most families, the program is free. Families with incomes above the free CHIP limits pay low monthly premiums and copays for some services.

CHIP covers any uninsured child or teen up to the age of 19 and guarantees 12 months of coverage unless the family no longer meets basic eligibility requirements. There is not a waiting list to enroll in the program. Caregivers must renew their coverage every year to continue receiving services. To learn more and apply, visit the CHIP webpage.

Included Changes

The following changes to CHIP will be in effect until the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency:

    • Families will not be denied or disenrolled from coverage for administrative or financial reasons. An example of an administrative reason would be not being able to provide proof of income.
    • Families will not pay a copay for services that are for COVID-19 screenings, testing, or treatment.
    • Families who cannot provide paperwork to verify information on an application or renewal can provide self-attestation of information by signing the application or renewal.
    • Families will be given more time to pay premiums, if needed.

These changes were made due to the economic and financial hardship that many families across the Commonwealth are experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, families must still provide verification of information provided on an application and are still responsible for copays for services not related to COVID-19.

Families will still be required to pay premiums, if applicable. However, if a family is unable to pay due to a decrease in or loss of income, that family must contact their managed care organization immediately and can request a reassessment because of an income change at any time.

More Information

For more information, read the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services’ full press release.


April 16, 2020

COVID-19: Resources for Early Learning Programs

If you work for or operate an early learning program in Pennsylvania, including public and private schools; child care centers; group child care homes; family child care homes; family, friend, and neighbor care, it’s important to remain calm, prepare, and take precautionary measures. By doing so, you will help to maintain the health and wellbeing of yourself, other staff, and the communities you serve. For up-to-date recommendations and COVID-19 Resources for Early Learning programs, please visit the ELRC Region 5 website.

Continue reading below for a brief overview of COVID-19; information about waivers and enrollment capacity; and a list of resources.



An Overview of COVID-19

COVID-19 is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a new coronavirus not previously seen in humans. Because the virus impacts the respiratory system, common symptoms of infection include fever, dry cough, tiredness, shortness of breath, and difficulty breathing. However, WHO states that some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat, and diarrhea. After being infected with COVID-19, individuals generally display mild symptoms that begin gradually, but some people who become infected may not develop any symptoms at all and may feel healthy.

To learn more about COVID-19 and the steps you can take to reduce your family’s risk of infection, read our recent news post. This post also includes information about what to do after infection, information on how it spreads, and links to several other organizations and entities that can provide more information.

National Sex Offender Registry Clearances

According to the Department of Human Services Office Child Development & Early Learning Bureau of Certification Services, no exceptions will be made for expired or late National Sex Offender Registry (NSOR) clearances after regular child care operations resume. Once regular child care operations resume statewide, staff will not be permitted to return to early learning programs if any of their clearances are expired. For this reason, it is recommended that all staff who require new or renewed finger-print checks should do so as soon as possible at one of the following available facilities.

To learn more about NSOR changes in the last 12 months, please visit ELRC Region 5’s news post.



COVID-19 Resources for Early Learning Programs

Information about COVID-19

Guidance for Providers

Early Learning

Talking with Children


After Infection

Impacts on Child Care, School, and Work

Fact Sheets

Informational Flyers

Mental Health

Receiving Support

Multilingual Resources

Curated Lists

Recorded Webinars

Contacts and Information

More Information

For more information about COVID-19, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), or World Health Organization (WHO) websites.


April 15, 2020

Family Strengths Survey Now Available

During the COVID-19 pandemic, parents and adult caregivers are vital in supporting the care, education, and healthy development of young children. Each caregiver and family will have their own unique experiences during these tough times, with many requiring assistance to acquire food, pay bills, and access other critical services.

To better understand which resources have been the most helpful and to ensure that these resources remain available, the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine’s Department of Pediatrics launched the “Family Strengths Survey.” The survey is open to the public and all answers will be submitted anonymously.

Take the Survey

If you are interested in submitting the Family Strengths survey in English, please visit the survey webpage or call 412.692.8026. The survey is also available in Spanish.

You Could Win

At the end of the survey, participants will have the choice to enter your name and contact information for a chance to receive a $100 gift card. Five people will be randomly selected each week from everyone who answers the survey. The contact information that you provide will never be linked to your answers in the survey.

Visit the survey webpage to learn more.

More Information

For more information about the survey or to see weekly updates on survey results, please visit the Family Strengths Survey webpage.  For questions, please contact For more information on COVID-19, including daily updates, please click here to visit our COVID-19 resources page.


April 14, 2020

Food Assistance Programs Available in Pennsylvania

Nearly one in seven households with children in the United States of America currently cannot afford to buy enough food for their families. When looking locally, the food insecurity rate in Allegheny County is 13 percent as of 2017. That is more than 161,000 people in the county, including nearly 38,000 children. Elected officials at all levels of government have the ability to enact policies that protect and support child nutrition programs and improve the health and well-being of children and their families. We just have to make sure that they are in office.

How You Can Help

Together, we can create a better future with our votes, advocacy, and support. However, if you are not registered to vote or if your voter registration is not up-to-date, you will miss out on important opportunities to share your voice and elect local, state, and national policymakers. Take this time to check your voter registration and encourage others to do the same!

Another way that you can make sure your voice is heard is by singing the America for Early Ed Pledge to Vote! Our voices and votes can ensure that all children in Pennsylvania receive the food and nutrition services they need to grow up healthy and strong. Will you join us in signing the Pledge?

To learn more about food insecurity in America, view this document by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). For information about available food services, please continue reading below.



Available Resources

If you or someone you know is in need of food assistance during the COVID-19 health crisis, please view the list below for information about available programs and services.

Pennsylvania 2.1.1 Southwest

If you are in need of immediate assistance, please call 2.1.1, text your zip code to 898.211, or visit the Pennsylvania (PA) 2.1.1 website.

PA 2.1.1 Southwest seeks to provide an easy-to-remember phone number and web resource for finding health and human services for everyday needs and in crisis situations, serving the following counties: Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Cambria, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Lawrence, Mercer, Somerset, Washington, and Westmoreland.

Allegheny County Free Food Distribution Map

For information about free resource distribution sites in Allegheny County, please visit this website. The map includes information about locations with no age restriction, locations that serve children only, PPS Grab and Go locations, and more. View the full map to view other available resource types. 

Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank

The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank provides information on emergency distributions, applying for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), accessing a food pantry near you, and more. If visiting a pantry, please call before your visit to confirm that the site’s hours have not changed.

For more information, contact the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank at 412.460.3663. To apply for SNAP, call toll-free at 833.822.7627, text SNAPPA to 555-888, or complete the online referral form.

Just Harvest

Just Harvest continues to provide assistance to community members applying for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medical Assistance, and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program, as well as case advocacy and eligibility screenings.

To receive assistance, fill out this form or call 412.431.8960, x602 and state your name, contact info, and the best time to reach you from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Southwest Pennsylvania Meals on Wheels

Southwest Pennsylvania Meals on Wheels provides home meal delivery for people over the age of 60 and to those of any age who are recovering from an injury, illness, or surgery. The program costs seven dollars per day, which provides two meals. A quart of milk is provided once a week. Meals can be provided as many days a week as needed.

Services are available to community members living in the following areas: Beechview, Bridgeville, Carnegie, Cecil, Clinton, Collier Township, Crafton, Dormont, Greentree, Heidelberg, Imperial, Ingram, Mt Lebanon, Oakdale, Robinson Township, Scott Township, South Fayette, Upper St. Clair, and Westwood. To learn more, visit their website!

South Hills Interfaith Movement (SHIM)

SHIM provides access to their pantry items via pre-packaged boxes. However, shop-thru style pantries are temporarily suspended. All pantry volunteers will implement safe distancing, wear gloves at all times, and sanitize all services.

Services are available to community members in the following school districts: Baldwin-Whitehall, Bethel Park, South Park, Keystone Oaks, Mt. Lebanon, and Upper St. Clair. Visit the SHIM website to learn more about the program and view their pantry hours.

For questions, please contact Molly Penderville at 412.854.9120, x108 or

JFCS Squirrel Hill Food Pantry

The JFCS Squirrel Hill Food Pantry is open and continues to serve community members who have a 15217 zip code and families that eat Kosher in communities outside of the area code. Individuals receive pre-bagged foods when they come into the pantry. Contact 412.421.2708 or visit their website for more information.


April 8, 2020

Schedule Summer/Fall PD Today!

Are you thinking about summer and fall? Schedule Custom 2020 Professional Development dates for your early learning program today! The deadline to guarantee your preferred date is June 1, 2020. Space is limited!


Focusing on early childhood professionals working in home, center, and school-based settings, Trying Together delivers professional growth opportunities in-person, virtually, and online. Customized offerings can be created and targeted to individual or group goals, interests, or needs.

To submit a request for professional services, complete and submit Trying Together’s online request form. All requests must be received before June 1, 2020 to guarantee your preferred date.

More 2020 Professional Development Information

For questions or more information, contact Jasmine Davis at or 412.567.3933. For government resources for early learning professionals, click here.


April 6, 2020

COVID-19 Impact on Child Care Survey Now Available

Many states, including Pennsylvania, have ordered all non-life-sustaining businesses to close their physical spaces as a mitigation effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). While lists of impacted businesses often include gyms, movie theaters, and clothing stores, they also often include a critical service that impacts families and caregivers across the nation: child care.

To better understand the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on families and caregivers, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) has launched a detailed survey and is seeking submissions from the public.


On March 12, 2020, NAEYC launched a survey asking child care programs to share the challenges they were expecting to face and to comment on what they needed to protect children, families, and our nation’s supply of child care programs. NAEYC received responses from 11,500 educators in family child care and center-based programs across the country, which has helped shape federal and state responses to the pandemic. 

Now, several weeks into the pandemic, as many states take action and a federal stimulus bill has passed, NAEYC is launching a more detailed survey with the intention to help organizations and policymakers understand the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 and the solutions that have been put forth thus far.

Complete the COVID-19 Impact on Child Care Survey

This survey is for everyone, including center-based programs, family child care programs, and others. However, not all questions may apply to your specific situation. Please complete the survey and fill out applicable questions to help NAEYC gather a range of perspectives on the impact of COVID-19 on child care. To participate, please visit the survey page.

More Information

For questions, please contact NAEYC at or 800.424.2460. For more information on COVID-19, please visit our COVID-19 Resources page here.