October 27, 2020

Remote Learning Resources Available

With recent changes to schooling due to COVID-19, Trying Together has compiled a list of remote learning resources to support teachers, parents, and students as they transition to and navigate remote learning. The Remote Learning Resources list is available on the Trying Together website.


Additional COVID-19 Resources


To best support community members and the young children in their lives, Trying Together has created two resource lists, featuring helpful resources that families and educators can use to maneuver this difficult time.

About Trying Together


Trying Together supports high-quality care and education for young children by providing advocacy, community resources, and professional growth opportunities for the needs and rights of children, their families, and the individuals who interact with them. Trying Together works regionally (in Southwestern Pennsylvania) and takes its expertise and models to statewide and national audiences. Learn more on the Trying Together website.


October 26, 2020

Reducing Suspensions and Expulsions in ECE Programs

A child’s first five years are the most critical for neurological development.

This is why responding to young children’s behaviors by suspending or expelling them from early childhood education (ECE) programs threatens their well-being during a critical period of learning.

To highlight ways in which ECE professionals should work to focus on preventative and responsive strategies for healthy child development, Trying Together has released a white paper entitled, “A Pathway to Reduce and Eliminate Early Childhood Suspensions and Expulsions.” This white paper is meant to provide guidance for stakeholders at all levels – teachers in the classroom, directors of programs, early interventionists, quality coaches, mental and behavioral health specialists, advocates, families, and policymakers.

Trying Together maintains that the elimination of suspensions and expulsions in early childhood settings must simultaneously occur with policies that increase resources and support for educators. 

The white paper provides researched recommendations including:

  • Establishing developmentally appropriate policies
  • Addressing implicit bias
  • Strengthening family engagement
  • Utilizing developmental screening tools
  • Promoting professional growth opportunities

The new white paper is a continuation of Trying Together’s efforts to encourage ECE programs and professionals to set developmentally appropriate expectations and establish preventative solutions. Other resources include Trying Together’s white paper entitled, “End Early Childhood Suspensions and Expulsions: Developmentally Appropriate Practices and Policies For Addressing Behaviors in The Early Elementary School Grades” and a supplemental document entitled, “Addressing Suspensions and Expulsions: A Guide for Families,” which provides helpful tips family caregivers can employ to address their suspension and expulsion concerns.

For more information, read the new, complete white paper.


October 23, 2020

2020 Family Support Needs Assessment

On October 22, the Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) released a new Family Support Needs Assessment that covers the needs and challenges experienced by families with young children and opportunities to address these needs and better serve families.


Developed in partnership with PolicyLab at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the assessment found that substance abuse, intimate partner violence, and mental health challenges are among the most pronounced issues facing young families across urban and rural communities. The assessment also shows an overall improvement in maternal and child health outcomes across many of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties since the last statewide needs assessment in 2014.

Assessment Findings

Informed by community surveys, interviews, and statewide data sets, the 2018-2020 Family Support Needs Assessment categorizes Pennsylvania’s counties as having “elevated need,” “moderate need,” and “low need,” across six domains: maternal and child health; socioeconomic status; substance abuse; child safety and maltreatment; community environment; and child care.

Overall, the findings show that 44 counties have elevated need in at least one of the domains and 15 counties across the state met elevated need thresholds in three or more domains. Importantly, the data collection occurred prior to the arrival of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania, and the researchers anticipate that the pandemic will exacerbate many areas of community need.

Despite the elevated need recorded in the report, maternal and child health outcomes have dramatically improved across much of the state since the 2014 federally-mandated statewide needs assessment. For example:

    • nearly every county (63) saw improved rates of preterm birth and teen birth;
    • 60 percent of counties saw improvements in infant mortality rates;
    • half of the counties saw a reduction in the percentage of children under age five living in poverty; and
    • more than half of the 2,220 individuals surveyed for the needs assessment have a favorable view of the availability and quality of health and social services in Pennsylvania for families with young children.

The assessment also includes a review of the capacity and scope of the state’s home visiting programs, which provide voluntary, in-home services to under-resourced pregnant moms and families of young children. Pennsylvania significantly increased its investment in evidence-based home visiting over the last four years so that today, six evidence-based home visiting models serve a total of 10,150 families.

More Information

For more information, read the full press release and review the 2020 Family Supports Need Assessment Report.


October 21, 2020

Allegheny County Family Resource Map Now Available

Are you interested in accessing food, housing, parent, or employment services? Check out ELRC Region 5’s Allegheny County Family Resource Map to view resources available near you!


The Allegheny County Family Resource Map highlights the addresses, phone numbers, and websites of a variety of family supports, including:

    • Aging
    • Care and Education
    • Employment
    • Family Activities
    • Food
    • Health
    • Housing
    • New Parents
    • Outdoors and Recreation
    • Transportation

Through the map, families can find countywide resources and services closest to them, such as senior community centers, family centers, early learning programs, public schools, WIC offices, parks, libraries, food pantries, diaper banks, clinics, public housing, Port Authority bus stops, and more.

More Information

For questions or to submit a map suggestion, please contact ELRC Region 5 at 412.350.3577


Benefits of Having a PD Registry Profile

Do you have a Pennsylvania PD Registry profile? If not, you are missing out on features that could help you schedule professional development, request financial assistance, and more.

What is the PD Registry?

The Pennsylvania Professional Development (PD) Registry is an online system that functions as a “workforce registry” by tracking the professional accomplishments of registered individuals, providing important data about the early childhood workforce, and highlighting a consolidated list of available professional development opportunities.

Data collected through the PD Registry—including data such as length of time in the field, education level, and wages—is also used to advocate for better education opportunities and higher wages for professionals in Pennsylvania.


Early Learning and School-Age Professionals

Through the PD Registry, early learning and school-age professionals can:

    • track their employment, education, and training history;
    • complete a professional development self-assessment to plan upcoming training;
    • register for in-person and online professional training that offers PQAS and Act 48 credit;
    • begin an application for financial assistance if eligible;
    • keep track of CPR, First Aid, and Fire Safety expiration dates;
    • and more.
Program Directors

Through the PD Registry, Program Directors can:

    • track staff completion of Bureau of Certification and Keystone STARS training requirements;
    • access verified staff qualifications for meeting Certification and Keystone STARS requirements;
    • support staff with professional development planning; and
    • register staff members for training using the statewide training calendar.

Creating an Account

If you don’t have an account, visit the PD Registry website to create one. For assistance, view this step-by-step tip sheet on how to create an account or contact

More Information

Additional tip sheets and resources are available for new users, existing users, and program directors. For more information, view this document or visit the Pennsylvania Key website.


October 14, 2020

Receive A School-Age Professional Credential

Are you interested in receiving a School-Age Professional Credential? A School-Age Professional Credential Course will be available online from October 20, 2020 to May 18, 2021. This course is free to those who qualify. Textbooks are provided.


The Pennsylvania School-Age Professional Credential (SAPC) is a competency-based program modeled after the Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential. It provides individuals working in school-age programs the opportunity to examine their work in relation to the Pennsylvania School-Age Competency Standards.

A School-Age Professional Credential Course will be available online from October 20, 2020 to May 18, 2021. Course participants will digitally meet on Tuesdays from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. and there will be a self-paced weekly assignment that will take approximately two hours to complete.

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for this course, professionals must:

    • be working in a Department of Human Service regulated program that serves school-age children (age five to 12-years-old);
    • have a minimum of a high school diploma or GED credential;
    • complete an individual professional development plan; and
    • have worked at least 480 hours with school-age children.


This course is free to those who qualify. Textbooks are provided. Technology and child care supports are available. To apply, visit the PDO at PASSHE webpage.

More Information

For questions or more information, call 814.836.9295 or email

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October 13, 2020

CARES Funds Available For Eligible Families

Individuals and families who are unable to meet basic and urgent needs on their own due to loss of income, reduced income, or insufficient income caused by the COVID-19 pandemic may be eligible to receive Community Services Block Grant CARES Act supplemental funds.


Assistance is available to help individuals and families cover costs associated with rent or mortgage, utilities, transportation, home repairs, food, child care, household supplies, and other needs as identified by the eligible individual/family. This assistance is capped at $1,000 and payments will generally be made to third parties on behalf of the eligible individual or family.

Eligibility Criteria

To qualify, applicants must live in Allegheny County outside of the city of Pittsburgh and be 18 years of age or older. Additionally, their household income for the 30-day period prior to applying must not exceed 200% Federal Poverty Level. For a household of one, this equates to $2,127 per month or $25,520 annually. For a family of four, this equates to $4,367 per month or $52,400 annually.

More Information

For more information, contact the appropriate community service agency below:

    • For residents of Allegheny Valley communities:
      Allegheny Valley Association of Churches; Beth Kendra; 724-226-0606, ext. 10;
    • For residents of Mon Valley and eastern suburban communities:
      Human Services Center Corporation, Anna Hudson, 412-436-9537,
    • For residents of northern and western communities:
      North Hills Community Outreach, Stephanie Kobert, 412-408-3210,
    • For residents of southern communities:
      South Hills Interfaith Movement, Elizabeth Henninger; 412-854-9120, ext. 104;


Hard-to-Recycle Material Collection Events in Pittsburgh

On October 9, the City of Pittsburgh announced that three neighborhood hard-to-recycle material collection events will be coming to Pittsburgh this fall to help residents get rid of electronic or household hazardous waste that could not be collected by refuse and recycling such as TVs, computers, light bulbs, and batteries.


Participants are required to drive to the event location and must remain in their vehicles for the duration of their visit. Social distancing guidelines will be followed for this event and face masks are required. Each event will serve up to 240 people. Additional neighborhoods will be scheduled in 2021.

The City of Pittsburgh subsidizes the cost of recycling electronics and household hazardous waste, however, fees apply for most items. Credit cards or checks are the only forms of payment accepted. Accepted materials and fees can be found on the ECS&R website. The Clean Pittsburgh Commission is sponsoring financial assistance, available upon request by contacting 311.


Advance registration is required. To register for an appointment, use the links below or call 311.

More Information

For answers to commonly asked questions, visit the ECS&R website.


October 12, 2020

Grants Available for Child Care Programs

In partnership with the Pennsylvania Key, the GIANT Company is offering a grant opportunity for early childhood education providers licensed by and in good standing with the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS).


Through this grant opportunity, early learning programs can apply for grants ranging from $2,000 to $10,000. This funding is intended to assist programs with meeting the unique needs of families and children served during the pandemic. These needs may include, but are not limited to, increased staffing, expanded operating hours, care of school-age children, Personal Protective Equipment or other sanitation measures, increased technology needs or services, school-age virtual learning labs, serving of meals, or addressing food insecurity needs of families and children served.

Eligibility Criteria

    • Applicants must operate a family child care home, group child care home, or child care center that is licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services; the program must be in good standing with DHS.
    • Applicants must serve families that receive child care subsidy/Child Care Works funding or demonstrate other means of serving families in need.
    • Applicants must remain operational through part of all of the COVID-19 pandemic and provide services to children in any age range (birth through school-age).
    • The early childhood education facility must be located in one of the following counties: Adams, Berks, Blair, Bucks, Carbon, Centre, Chester, Clearfield, Columbia, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Fayette, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Indiana, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Luzerne, Lycoming, Mifflin, Monroe, Montgomery, Montour, Northampton, Perry, Philadelphia, Schuylkill, Snyder, Union, York.

Submit An Application

To apply for a grant, visit the Pennsylvania Key website. All applications are due by 5 p.m. on Friday, November 13, 2020. Funds will be dispersed by January 29, 2021.


October 7, 2020

Update: COVID-19 Child Care Operations

On September 29, the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) issued an announcement to provide certified child care facilities with interim guidance for operating a facility during the COVID-19 pandemic. This announcement replaces C-20-06-Revised.


The announcement includes guidance on a range of health and safety considerations. Early learning professionals can review the guidance document in its entirety online. For examples of this guidance, continue reading below.


Practices, Policies, and Procedures

    • Implement drop-off and arrival procedures: post signage to maintain social distancing; encourage the same designated person to drop off and pick up the child every day; set up hand hygiene stations; keep hand sanitizer out of children’s reach and supervise use; stagger arrival and pick up times; transport infants in their car seats; etc.
    • Implement daily screening procedures: conduct a screening of any person entering the building; do not allow people who have tested positive for COVID-19 or who are showing symptoms to enter the building; ask caregivers to take their child’s temperature before coming to the facility and check their temperature again upon arrival; maintain at least six feet of distance from the parent and child; ask the child’s caregiver if any symptoms are present; put on disposable gloves; etc.
    • Implement disinfecting and sanitation procedures: clean and sanitize toys; develop a schedule for routinely cleaning and disinfecting; keep cleaning materials out of the reach of children; don’t use products near children; ensure adequate ventilation; etc.

Social Distancing in Child Care Settings

    • If possible, child care classes should include the same group each day, and the same child care providers should remain with the same group each day.
    • If your child care program remains open, consider creating a separate classroom or group for the children of healthcare workers and other first responders.
    • Consider whether to alter or halt daily group activities that may promote transmission. Cancel or postpone special events such as festivals, holiday events, and special performances.
    • Limit the mixing of children, such as staggering playground times and keeping groups separate for special activities such as art, music, and exercising. Keep each group of children in a separate room.
    • If possible, at nap time, ensure that children’s naptime mats (or cribs) are spaced out as much as possible, ideally 6 feet apart. Consider placing children head to toe in order to further reduce the potential for viral spread.

Face Coverings

    • If a child is outdoors and able to consistently maintain a social distance of at least 6 feet from individuals who are not a part of their household, they do not need to wear a face covering.
    • If a parent, guardian, or responsible person has been unable to place a face covering safely on the child’s face, they should not do so.
    • If a child two years old or older is unable to remove a face covering without assistance, the child is not required to wear one.
    • If experiencing issues with getting younger children comfortable wearing face coverings and keeping them on, parents, guardians, licensed child care providers in community-based and school settings or responsible persons may consider prioritizing the wearing of face coverings to times when it is difficult for the child to maintain a social distance of at least 6 feet from others who are not a part of their household (drop-off, pick-up, standing in line, etc.).

Confirmed COVID-19 Cases and Exposure

    • The facility must develop a process to inform facility persons of possible exposure to a positive COVID-19 case. The operator shall inform parents of enrolled children when there is a suspected outbreak of a communicable disease or an outbreak of an unusual illness that represents a public health emergency in the opinion of the Department of Health.
    • If the child is in care when the test results are confirmed positive, the child must be isolated until the appropriate party arrives to pick them up. The child’s parent must be notified as soon as possible.
    • If a facility person or child tests positive for COVID-19, areas used by the person who tested positive must be closed for a period of 24 hours following the confirmed positive COVID-19 case of a child or facility person in attendance so that the facility can be cleaned and disinfected properly. Close contacts must self-quarantine.
    • If a facility person, household member, or a child is exposed to an individual who tests positive for COVID-19, they shall self-quarantine for a period of 14 days based on the CDC guidance.


    • If a facility person/child is a potential exposure AND has COVID-19 like symptoms, please report to the Department of Health or your local health department.
    • The facility must report positive COVID-19 cases to the Department of Health. Facilities within the counties listed on page 13 of the announcement must report positive cases to their local health department, who will in turn report this information to the Department of Health.
    • The facility must report positive COVID-19 cases and positive COVID-19 cases that result in death to their Department of Human Services (DHS) Certification Representative. Facilities must utilize the DHS Licensed Facility COVID Data Collection Tool.

Timeline for Returning to Care

    • Individuals with COVID-19 who have symptoms and were directed to care for themselves at home: discontinue isolation after at least 24 hours have passed since recovery (defined as the resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medication and the improvement of symptoms), AND at least 10 days after symptoms first appeared.
    • Persons with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 who have not had any symptoms and were directed to care for themselves at home: discontinue isolation after no less than 10 days have passed since the date of their first positive COVID-19 diagnostic test, provided no symptoms have developed during that 10-day period.
    • Symptomatic child/facility persons who are not tested: exclude for 10 days from symptom onset AND at least 24 hours after fever resolution (if present) without the use of fever-reducing medication AND improved respiratory symptoms.
    • Symptomatic child/facility persons determined by a health care provider to have an illness other than COVID-19: exclude until without a fever for 24 hours (if fever present) without the use of fever-reducing medication and symptoms improve.
    • Symptomatic child/facility persons with test negative: exclude until without a fever for 24 hours (if fever present) without the use of fever-reducing medication AND improved respiratory symptoms.

Additional Resources

More Information

This information was provided by OCDEL. For questions or concerns, please contact the regional OCDEL office at 800.222.2149. For more information, read the full announcement.