September 28, 2022

2022 Annual Lights On Afterschool Event

On October 20, 2022 celebrate Lights On Afterschool, a nationwide event celebrating afterschool programs and their important role in the lives of children, families, and communities.

About Lights On Afterschool

The Afterschool Alliance organizes Lights On Afterschool to underscore the need to invest in afterschool programs, which provide fun, hands-on learning opportunities and offerings that can include homework help; healthy snacks and meals; computer programming; robotics; art, dance and music; opportunities to think critically, collaborate, and communicate with peers and adults; job and college readiness; sports and fitness activities; mentors; and more.

Thousands of Lights On Afterschool events are expected to take place across the country this October, including academic contests, food drives, student musical performances, science fairs, open houses, art shows, community service and environmental events, fun runs, visits from lawmakers and business leaders, and more. Events will be held at schools, community centers, 4-Hs, Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCAs, parks, museums, and other places. The events emphasize that millions more kids need quality afterschool programs.

Find or Plan Events

Communities nationwide, including many in Allegheny County, are celebrating. Find local events online. For more information about planning an event, visit the Lights On Afterschool webpage.


September Recalls on Children’s Products

Parents and caregivers should be aware of several child-related product recalls.


Here is a list of September recalls collected from the major federal agencies: the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Food and Drug Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

More Information

For recall details, visit the links above or review the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Food and Drug Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration websites.


September 27, 2022

Child Care Providers Can Request Free PPE Materials

The Department of Health (DOH), Department of General Services (DGS), and Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) are collaborating to distribute Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to ensure COVID-19 protection during a fall/winter surge of cases and for other relevant needs, including training purposes.


Entities can request PPE through an online request form. The following resources are intended to support organizations for current or future COVID-19 protection, or other associated purposes (including training purposes) and are available at no cost to the recipient:

  • N95 masks

  • Surgical masks

  • Isolation gowns

  • Face shields

  • Nitrile gloves

  • Hand sanitizer

  • Sanitizing wipes

These resources are not permitted to be used to offset normal operational costs for the procurement of PPE. Providers will be able to indicate requested quantities and size preferences; however, requests for specific brands/styles of products will not be accommodated.

The request form will be kept open and orders will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis through at least October 2022. Please email with any questions about this program.

More details are available from the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL).


September 22, 2022

RADical Days 2022

RADical Days is featuring free events and activities for people of all ages through October 16, 2022.

About RADical Days

RADical Days, the Allegheny Regional Asset District’s annual “thank you” to taxpayers, includes free events at more than 65 entities that receive RAD funding. From free admission to top-level attractions to free performances by world-class musicians, RADical Days 2022 provides something for everyone.

Highlights include free admission days to local institutions, including:

  • Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium (Oct. 2)
  • Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh (Oct. 3)
  • Carnegie Science Center (Oct. 9)
  • The Frick Pittsburgh (Oct. 16)

Arts and culture organizations like City Theatre (Clyde’s – Sept. 25), South Park Theatre (The 39 Steps – Sept. 24), New Hazlett Theater (Somewhere Strange – Oct. 14) Pittsburgh Opera (Sept. 11 & Oct. 8), Pittsburgh Public Theater (A Raisin in the Sun – 7PM on Oct. 16) and Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (Oct. 11) are among the assets providing free tickets.

The RADical Days calendar of events is available to view at


September 20, 2022

November 8 Election Resources and Reminders

With the November 8 election quickly approaching, do you have a voting plan? Dedicate time today to check your voter registration status, review what options you have to cast your vote, and create your personal voting timeline.

Save The Dates

Use the dates listed below to create your personal voting timeline. If you would like to receive ballot deadline reminders, election date reminders, and more, sign-up to receive emails from Votes PA.

Register To Vote

To participate in the November 8 election, voter registrations must be submitted by October 24, 2022. Interested community members can register to vote by:

Accessible Voting for Citizens with a Disability

Voters with a disability may get help voting and have several choices for how to vote. Visit the DOS Voting & Election Information website’s Accessible Voting page to learn about accessible voting system at your polling place, how to get assistance at the polling place, Third Party Ballot Delivery for mail voting, and more.


To check your voter registration status and polling place address, visit the PA Voter Services website.



September 19, 2022

September is Attendance Awareness Month

September is Attendance Awareness Month.

Attendance Awareness Month is designated by the Attendance Awareness Campaign – led by Attendance Works and 10 national partners – which broadcasts the message that every day a student is in school is an opportunity to learn, build relationships, and access support.

About the Attendance Awareness Campaign

Through the Attendance Awareness Campaign, schools, localities, and states are urged to promote the value of good attendance and to take concrete steps toward reducing chronic absence. The theme for 2022’s campaign is “Stay Connected, Keep Learning!”

Regular attendance is vital for student success. When students attend regularly, starting as early as preschool and kindergarten, they have an opportunity to achieve academically and thrive.

Research shows that when students are chronically absent, (missing 10% or more of the school year or 18 days over an entire year), they are less likely to read proficiently by third grade, achieve in middle school and graduate from high school. Over two years into the pandemic, chronic absence has nearly tripled.

The Attendance Awareness Campaign suggests considering the following key messages to help improve attendance, connection, and achievement:

  1. Reducing chronic absence can help address educational inequity.

  2. Building trusting relationships that promote belonging is fundamental to improving student attendance and engagement.

  3. Students are more likely to attend school if they feel safe, connected and supported.

  4. A positive, problem-solving approach driven by data will improve attendance.

  5. Supporting students, families and school staff physically and emotionally improves attendance.

  6. When the whole community collaborates with families and schools, we can overcome systemic barriers to attendance and engagement.

For more information about how to get involved, attendance resources, messaging, and professional development opportunities, visit the Attendance Works website.


September 15, 2022

Public Service Loan Forgiveness for ECE Workforce

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in financial hardship for many, including members of the early care and education (ECE) workforce. Educators who work for a qualified employer—including many Head Start, preschool and child care programs—may now be eligible for federal student loan forgiveness, even if they were not eligible before.

Learn More

The Department of Education announced major changes to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program for a limited time.

Some borrowers will need to consolidate their federal loans and/or submit a PSLF form by October 31, 2022 to take advantage of this opportunity.

The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) ACF has created a PSLF landing page that includes resources including a March 31 webinar  hosted by the Office of Early Childhood Development, in partnership with the Department of Education.

For a limited time under the current PSLF waiver:

  • You may receive credit for past periods of repayment that would otherwise not qualify for PSLF.

  • If you have FFEL, Perkins, or other federal student loans, you’ll need to consolidate your loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan to qualify for PSLF both in general, and under the waiver. You can log into Aid Summary to find out how many and what types of loans you have. Before consolidating, make sure to check to see if you work for a qualifying employer.

  • Past periods of repayment will now count regardless of whether you actually made a payment, made that payment on time, for the full amount due, or under a qualifying repayment plan.

  • If you work in a child care center, family child care home, Head Start program, or other school setting, your employer must still be a not-for-profit or U.S. federal, state, local, or tribal government organization. (This has not changed). Most early educators who are self-employed or work at for-profit businesses do not qualify.

  • Periods of deferment or forbearance, and periods of default, continue to not qualify.

Qualification and Application Details

The limited waiver opportunity will be offered until October 31, 2022. After this period, normal PSLF requirements will apply.

More information on this limited Public Service Loan Forgiveness waiver, including how to qualify and apply, can be found online.


September 14, 2022

Participate in Early Childhood Wage Survey

Trying Together’s statewide partners — Children First and Reinvestment Fund with Start Strong PA — are conducting a survey to determine the wages of early childhood educators across Pennsylvania.

Child Wage Survey

Providers of early childhood education have struggled with low wages for some time. These unlivable wages have contributed to the current staffing shortages affecting the entire profession. In order to effectively advocate on behalf of educators, legislators need to know the current wages that early childhood professionals are being paid in real time.

To effectively gather this information, teachers in early childhood classrooms are encouraged to participate in this ongoing wage survey. Information will be confidential and any data collected will only be reported in the aggregate. Participants will also have the option to enter a drawing for a $50 Amazon gift card.

Please direct all questions to Mai Miksic,, early childhood education policy director at Children First.


September 13, 2022

Free School Breakfasts to Begin in October

Pennsylvania schools will begin providing free school breakfasts during the 2022-2023 school year beginning October 1, 2022.


On Friday, September 9, Gov. Tom Wolf announced that the state will provide funding for both public and private schools to offer free breakfasts for all students. All students can receive a school breakfast regardless of whether they qualify for free or reduced-price meals.

The $21.5 million needed for this breakfast program for the state’s 1.7 million students will be funded through money left over in last year’s school food services budget from state and federal funds.

School breakfasts are crucial to supporting children’s learning throughout the day. No Kid Hungry, a national campaign working to solve problems of hunger and poverty, describes school breakfasts as one of the most powerful programs for feeding kids and ending childhood hunger.

Check with your child’s school to learn more about their food service program and offerings for school breakfast.

More Information

If you or your family is currently facing food insecurity, visit Trying Together’s list of available community programs and resources available.


September 12, 2022

Summer P-EBT for PA Children Approved

The Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) helps families cover the cost of breakfasts and lunches their children would have been eligible to receive for free or at reduced price through the National School Lunch Program funding for meals missed while being out of school during the pandemic. The money on these cards can be used for food only.

Once believed to be a short-term program, P-EBT has now transformed into a longer-term federal response to the national public health crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Summer P-EBT Benefits

Eligible families will receive a Summer P-EBT payment of $391 per child for June, July, and August months.

School-Age Children

Beginning September 12 and ending on September 23, 2022, the PA Department of Human Services (PA DHS) will issue Summer P-EBT to the following school year 2021-22 Pre-k-12 students who:

  • were already enrolled in their school’s Free or Reduced-Price Meals program; or
  • attended a school where all students are automatically enrolled in the Free Meals program through the “community eligibility provision” (CEP). (CEP allows public schools with many low-income families to enroll all its students in the free meals program. This should not be confused with the recent pandemic school meals fee waiver).; or
  • were enrolled in their school’s Free or Reduced-Price Meals program or in a CEP school but did virtual instruction through that school during the past year due to concerns about COVID-19; or
  • didn’t enroll in the Free or Reduced-Price Meals program until after May 2022 but before August 21, 2022. The Summer P-EBT benefit will begin to be issued to these students on October 11.

For Children Birth through Five

From October 20-21, 2022, PA DHS will issue the Summer P-EBT payment to families who were receiving SNAP benefits for their young child at any time in June, July, or August.


Benefits will be issued on existing EBT or P-EBT cards. If your child never received P-EBT before, the state will automatically send them a new card or will try to deposit their benefits on your EBT card if you currently receive SNAP benefits for your child and the state can match your child’s info from their school to your SNAP account.

If you no longer have your child’s previous P-EBT card, you can request a new one through the state’s P-EBT Portal. If you no longer have your SNAP EBT card, you can request a replacement by calling 1-877-395-8930.

More Information

For more details, visit the PA Department of Human Services and the Just Harvest websites.