News

January 31, 2022

COVID-19 Best Practices for Child Care: Vaccinations

The Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) has developed best practices for early learning professionals navigating COVID-19 protocols in their child care programs. The fourth topic is vaccinations in child care settings.

About

To keep child care providers informed on the latest best practices for keeping children, staff, and families safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pennsylvania Key created a webpage that highlights recommended best practices.

The latest information is about COVID-19 vaccinations in child care settings. Because only children ages five and older are eligible for the vaccine, there will be a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals in programs. Therefore, it’s very important to use multiple prevention strategies to protect people, including vaccination of staff, families, and eligible children.

The PA Key offers information about:

  • how programs can use supportive policies and practices for people to get vaccinated as easily and conveniently as possible;

  • how families can learn about how child care programs are using CDC guidance and procedures;

  • and vaccine resources.

More Information

For more information, visit the PA Key website.

News

January 28, 2022

CDC Updates COVID-19 Guidance ECE/Child Care Program Operations

On January 28, 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released updated information for COVID-19 Guidance for Operating Early Care and Education/Child Care Programs.

About

The CDC’s updates include guidance to reflect new quarantine and isolation guidance and recommendations, specifying the circumstances when isolation and quarantine periods can be shortened, and updated guidance regarding staying up to date with COVID-19 vaccines.

Key takeaways and updates include:

  • Isolation and quarantine periods can be reduced to five days for people who can consistently wear well-fitting masks, as long as they remain symptom free, or fever has ended and symptoms have improved. For details, see CDC’s page on Quarantine and Isolation.

  • Layered COVID-19 prevention strategies remain critical to protect people, including children and staff, who are not up to date or eligible for COVID-19 vaccines, especially in areas of moderate-to-high community transmission levels.

  • Promotion of vaccination among all eligible individuals can help Early Care and Education (ECE) programs protect staff and children in their care, as well as their families.

Though these are not mandates, the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) recommends that child care programs follow the CDC COVID-19 Guidance for Operating Early Care and Education/Child Care Programs.

News

Child Maltreatment Policy Required in Child Care Programs

The Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) has announced a new certification requirement for child care providers to develop a policy and procedure to identify the prevention of shaken baby syndrome, abusive head trauma, and child maltreatment.

About

The Child Protective Services Law (CPSL) requires child abuse reporting and does not address the prevention of the acts defined in the law as child abuse, including shaking a baby, abusive head trauma and child maltreatment. Child abuse includes, but is not limited to intentionally, knowingly or recklessly:

  • Causing bodily injury to a child through any recent act or failure to act

  • Creating a reasonable likelihood of bodily injury to a child through any recent actor failure to act

  • Forcefully shaking a child under one year of age

Required Policy

In addition to trainings required of all staff employed at a child care program, providers must have a policy and procedure to identify the prevention of shaken baby syndrome, abusive head trauma, and child maltreatment. The policy must include, but is not limited to:

  • Recognition of potential signs and symptoms of shaken baby syndrome and abusive head trauma

  • Strategies for coping with a crying, fussing, or distraught child

  • The prevention and identification of child maltreatment

PA Department of Human Services certified child care providers can reference Caring for Our Children Basics (CFOCB): Health and Safety Foundations for Early Care and Education, which represents the minimum health and safety standards experts believe should be in place where children are cared for outside of their homes for policy and procedure development. Policies must be in place by April 29, 2022.

Questions

For more information, read the full announcement from OCDEL. Child care providers can direct comments and questions regarding this announcement to their Regional Office of Child Development and Early Learning. The Western Region office number is 800-222-2149.

News

January 27, 2022

Updates to Health and Safety Training Requirements for Child Care Providers

The Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) has issued an announcement updating health and safety training requirements for child care providers.

About

Due to updated guidance on the federal requirements for Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), all staff in certified child care programs must have preservice or orientation training (to be completed within three months) and an annual minimum of 12 hours in health and safety professional development in topics including:

  • pediatric first aid and pediatric cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)

  • safe sleep practices, including risk reduction of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome/Sudden Unexplained Infant Death (SIDS/SUID)

  • prevention and control of infectious diseases (including immunizations)

  • prevention of and response to emergencies due to food and allergic reactions

  • prevention of shaken baby syndrome/abusive head trauma/child maltreatment

  • building and physical premises safety

  • emergency preparedness and response planning

  • handling and storing hazardous materials

  • safely transporting children

  • mandated reporter training

Until pre-trainings have been completed, staff can’t care for children unsupervised. All child care staff, who have not already completed the required health and safety trainings, will be expected to show completion and documentation by April 29, 2022.

Find Required Trainings

The pre-service training is available on the Better Kid Care (BKC) website. The BKC’s online pre-service training courses meet the CCDBG health and safety required training topics and are the only modules that meet the pre-service training requirements for all child care staff.

Health and safety training topics can be found on the Professional Development (PD) Registry. Recognition and Reporting of Child Abuse and Neglect (Mandated Reporter Training) is available through Keep Kids Safe. Additional training options include PA Child Welfare Resource Center and PA Family Support Alliance.

All child care staff must have documentation and verification of completion of preservice training and on-going annual professional development retained in the facility person’s file or maintained in an electronic PD Registry. The documentation must include, but is not limited to:

  • Signature of representative or trainer of the professional development entity

  • Title of a representative or trainer of the professional development entity

  • Date professional development training was completed

Questions

Read the full announcement for more information and details. Child care providers can direct comments and questions regarding this announcement to their Regional Office of Child Development and Early Learning. The Western Region office number is 800-222-2149.

News

January 26, 2022

T.E.A.C.H. Scholarships for STAR 1 and 2 Providers Available

Pennsylvania’s Office of Child Development & Early Learning (OCDEL) has provided Pennsylvania Child Care Association (PACCA) with additional funds to support approximately 100 more T.E.A.C.H. (Teacher Education And Compensation Helps) Early Childhood Pennsylvania Scholarship Program scholarships in this fiscal year. These scholarships are specifically for staff employed in STAR 1 and STAR 2 programs.

About T.E.A.C.H.

The program works with early childhood providers, colleges and child care staff to offer scholarship programs and support systems that improve the education and compensation of child care workers. The scholarships will provide additional supports including:

  • A $200 completion stipend to scholarship recipients upon successful completion of their first semester

  • Increased release time reimbursement rates to employers ($15 per hour)

  • Training and technical assistance for employers (see webinar information below)

  • Enhanced counseling sessions (day and evening) for staff related to the college application/admissions processes and T.E.A.C.H. application

Many colleges have late start spring semesters in which staff can still enroll. This additional funding is available for this fiscal year only (through June 30, 2022).

Apply

T.E.A.C.H. applications must be complete and submitted with all required documentation/information. 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.

Completed applications for late start Spring or Summer 2022 semesters must be submitted to PACCA through one of the following methods:

  • Email: teachinfo@pacca.org

  • Fax: 717.657.0959

  • Mail: 20 Erford Road, Suite 302, Lemoyne, PA 17043

For questions about scholarship eligibility or requirements, contact a T.E.A.C.H. Counselor at 717.657.9000 or teachinfo@pacca.org.

News

January 25, 2022

Deadline Extended: Spring 2022 Child Development Associate (CDA)

Looking to receive a Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential? The deadline for the Spring 2022 CDA has been extended to January 31, 2022.

What is a CDA Credential?

CDA Credential is the most widely recognized credential in the early childhood field and is a key stepping stone on the path to career advancement. The credential enables professionals to work in Head Start and Early Head Start classrooms, in addition to early learning programs across the United States, and provides opportunities for increased pay. Interested applicants may complete the CDA Interest Form to connect with a member of our staff.

Please share this flyer with your networks.

 


 

Trying Together’s CDA Programs

Trying Together offers the following CDA programs at no cost to eligible early childhood professionals in Pennsylvania:

CDA Credential Preparation Program

  • Spring 2022 Classes: 1/11/22 – 6/14/22 (Deadline to Register: 1/31/22)
  • Fall 2022 Classes: 8/30/22 – 3/28/23
  • Biweekly Zoom Meetings and Schoology

Participants complete 135 hours of professional development to earn their CDA Credential in six to nine months. Participants can matriculate up to nine course credits at Carlow University upon credential completion.

CDA Credential Community of Practice Program

  • Fall 2021 Classes: 11/16/21 – 1/4/22 (Deadline to Register: 11/11/21)
  • Spring 2022 Classes: Spring Classes: 3/1/22 – 4/26/22
  • Biweekly Zoom Meetings and Schoology

Participants receive support in building a portfolio and preparing for the CDA Credential Exam. Applicants must have proof of 120 hours of coursework completed via professional development hours, transcripts, etc.

CDA Credential Renewal Program

Participants review current standards, literature, strategies, and more to meet the criteria for eight early childhood subject areas upon completion. Applicants are accepted on a rolling basis.

 


More Information

For more information, visit our CDA Credential page. To ask a question about our programs, contact Theresa Hetler at theresa@tryingtogether.org or Jasmine Davis at jasmine@tryingtogether.org. For eligibility questions, contact Judy Graca at judy@tryingtogether.org.

News

Nominations Open for Francine Bunch Memorial Award

Celebrate the successes of your Head Start or Early Head Start program by honoring a Head Start parent or staff member for the Francine Bunch Memorial Award.

About the Francine Bunch Memorial Award

The Francine Bunch Memorial Award is awarded to one parent and one staff person, each with a Pennsylvania Head Start Association (PHSA) member organization, who displays the qualities of the late Francine Bunch, who started as a parent and ultimately became a Parent Involvement Coordinator with the Lancaster Child Development Program’s Head Start . Learn more about Bunch.

Eligibility

This honor may be awarded to one parent and one staff person each year. They must meet the following criteria:

  • The nominee(s) is a parent, staff member or former parent who is affiliated with a dues paying member program of the association.

  • The nominee(s) is actively involved with their local program and the program clearly benefits from their involvement.

  • The nominee(s) takes initiative in growing her/his professional development while involved in the local program.

  • The nominee(s) is involved in other local community activities.

  • The nominee(s) serves as a positive role model for parents and staff alike.

  • The nominee(s) promotes positive working relationships between parents, staff and friends at the local, state or federal level.

Nominations

Staff from a PHSA dues paying program may nominate a parent, former parent and/or coworker for the Francine Bunch Award. To nominate a candidate, staff must complete the Francine Bunch Nomination Form in full and attach a narrative that describes how the nominee meets the six criteria above.

Each nomination form and accompanying narrative will be evaluated by the PHSA Scholarships and Awards Committee, and one parent and one staff person will be selected to receive the award. Award winners are recognized with a commemorative plaque during PHSA’s Annual Spring Conference

Deadline

The application packet is available at the PHSA website. The deadline to apply is March 11, 2022.

News

January 24, 2022

Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program Available

The Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) is available to help Pennsylvania families who have overdue water bills or at risk of losing water service for their home.

About

LIHWAP is a new, temporary program established through the American Rescue Plan Act and the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. Water assistance is provided as a grant paid directly to service providers and does not need to be repaid.

LIHWAP can help households that are in emergency situations maintain essential water access. Crisis situations include:

  • Past-due water bills;

  • Termination of water service; or,

  • Threat of termination of water service in the next 60 days.

Apply

Applicants can be renters or home owners and they do not need to be on public assistance; however, they do need to have an unpaid water bill to qualify.

Eligibility and income requirements are available on the PA Department of Human Services website. The application is available online on the COMPASS website.

News

January 20, 2022

Registration Open for UnConference: Creating a Safe Place with Trauma-Informed Care

Registration is now open for Trying Together’s “UnConference: Creating a Safe Place with Trauma-Informed Care,” which will be held February 8 to February 18, 2022.

Between February 8-18, expert-led virtual workshops will share content related to trauma-informed care. We begin the UnConference with keynote speaker Dr. Veirdre Jackson and dive into how we can create an environment of healing through equity and trust. Following the keynote, workshop sessions include how to identify family stressors, how to provide responsive care-giving for children experiencing trauma, and an overview of the recently launched Rapid Response Team from Trying Together.

Registration is now open and specific workshop dates and times will be added. For a flat fee of $25, you may attend as many sessions (keynote or workshops) as you like. Sessions will also be recorded for viewing after the UnConference has completed. You must register for the UnConference in order to access session recordings.

PNC Grow Up Great is the series sponsor.


Featured Sessions

Keynote: Co-Creating A Healing Community of Equity & Trust

Tuesday, February 8, 2022 | 6:30 – 8 p.m. 
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Veirdre Jackson, Living Strong Consulting

Communities, however defined, are made up of people who bring a range of experiences and histories. Remaining open, curious, and culturally humble is essential to understanding a community’s resilience, strength, and wisdom. Claudia Woody says, “Inclusion means not ‘just we’re allowed to be there,’ but we are valued there.” Participants will explore the 5 Blocks of Building Restorative Relationships that allow caregivers to create holistic and supportive spaces that are responsive to historical trauma and equity literacy which holds us accountable to doing the work of learning together, seeking understanding, and creating a safe, valued, and heard community.

Rapid Response Team: Reducing Expulsions and Suspensions in Early Childhood Education

Thursday, February 10, 2022 |  6:30 – 8 p.m.
Presented by: Alicia Sebastian, Trying Together

This session will discuss the ongoing and growing issue surrounding expulsion and suspension in early childhood education that have been linked to staff implicit bias, challenging behaviors, and staffing issues. The presentation will guide parents, caregivers, directors and staff working with children ages 0-5 on how to prevent expulsion and suspension in early childhood education. The session will discuss ways to implement evidence-based strategies to promote positive behavior support, self-regulation, and positive mental health. We will share community resources and programs for children and families in Allegheny County.

Self-Care Isn’t Selfish, It’s Necessary: Practical Tools for Early Childhood Educators to Reduce Stress and Avoid Burn-Out

Monday, February 14, 2022  |  12:30 – 2 p.m.
Presented by: Tracy Larson, Director, Early Childhood Partnerships, Office of Child Development

In this session, participants will learn why self-care is necessary, how to recognize when they need to be more intentional about self-care, and research informed strategies and activities to reduce stress and avoid burn-out. At the end of the session, participants will create a personalized self-care plan.

Talking to Listen: Exploring Family Stressors and Creating Positive Relationships to Support Families

Tuesday, February 15, 2022 | 6:30 – 8 p.m.
Presented by: 
Patrick M. McKelvey, MS, NCC, National Youth Advocate Program Inc.

Children react differently to stress and trauma, which can sometimes exhibit itself as challenging behaviors in the classroom. This workshop helps educators understand the impact that family stressors (such as a death, food insecurity, changes in placement, community violence, etc.) can have on both children and their caregivers. Participants will learn how to notice these family stressors; how to communicate with caregivers to build relationships that provide a supportive environment for young children; and self-regulation strategies to manage strong emotions when having difficult conversations with caregivers.

Teaching Children Through a Trauma Lens

Thursday February 17, 2022 | 6:30 – 8 p.m.
Presenters:  Amanda Harrison, MA, LPC, NCC, Infant Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant with the PA Keys

Research continues to show the detrimental effects that complex trauma has on the developing brain with our most vulnerable population. Over time, these young children are at risk for developmental delays, limited positive relationships, and a host of other difficulties. Our early education classrooms can create safe, responsive, and equitable environments to assist in reducing these harmful effects. This presentation will identify different types of trauma, how young children with trauma may present in the classroom, and supportive strategies teachers can implement to foster environments that encourage healing.


Registration

Registration for the UnConference: Creating a Safe Place with Trauma-Informed Care can be found on our UnConference page.

For a flat fee of $25, you may attend as many sessions (keynote or workshops) as you like. Sessions will also be recorded for viewing after the UnConference has completed. You must register for the UnConference in order to access session recordings.

Participants will receive PQAS and/or Act 48 hours.

More Information

For questions about the UnConference, contact Yu-Ling Cheng at conference@tryingtogether.org. For additional information, including FAQs, visit our UnConference page.

News

January 19, 2022

Flu Vaccine Vouchers Through PA 211

United Way Worldwide in partnership with Walgreens has started the SingleCare Flu Vaccination Program, which will provide free flu vaccine vouchers for individuals who are uninsured.

About

Vouchers will be sent electronically to an email address so access to a working email is necessary. There is a limit of one voucher per person and each voucher will have a unique ID number.

However, multiple vouchers can be sent to the same email, so the whole family can receive their flu vaccine vouchers at one email address.

Note that the voucher can only be redeemed at Walgreens locations.

Get a Voucher

To receive a flu voucher, call 2-1-1.