April 27, 2023

Resources for May Observances

Various organizations, states, and nations recognize a number of observances each month. Resources help parents, caregivers, and child care professionals acknowledge and navigate them.

Here is a list of resources for May observances:

Month-Long Observances

May is National Foster Care Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Month

Weeks of Recognition

May 1 – 7 is Children’s Book Week

May 8 – 12 is National Teacher Appreciation Week

Days of Recognition

May 7 is National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day

May 12 is National Child Care Provider Appreciation Day

May 14 is Mother’s Day

May 28 is World Hunger Day


April 26, 2023

PA DHS Extends LIHEAP Application Period

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (PADHS) has extended the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) application period.

Previously set to close April 28, PADHS will now accept applications through May 12. Pennsylvanians who are behind on or having trouble paying home heating bills are encouraged to apply for LIHEAP benefits before the new deadline.


The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) helps families living on low incomes pay their heating bills in the form of a cash grant. Households in immediate danger of being without heat can also qualify for crisis grants.

The cash grant is a one-time payment sent directly to the utility company/fuel provider to be credited on your bill. These grants range from $300 to $1,000 based on household size, income, and fuel type.


Applicants must meet income requirements for 2022-2023. They are as follows:

  • One-person household: $20,385

  • Two-person household: $27,465

  • Three-person household: $34,545

  • Four-person household: $41,625

  • Five-person household: $48,705

  • Six-person household: $55,785

  • Seven-person household: $62,865

  • Eight-person household: $69,945

  • Nine-person household: $77,025

  • Ten-person household: $84,105

  • For every additional person: Add $7,080

Applicants must have proof of income for each adult in the household, a copy of their most recent utility bill, and the social security number of each adult in the household (and child, if possible).


There are two ways to apply for LIHEAP:

After your application is reviewed, you will receive written notice explaining your eligibility and the amount of assistance you will receive. Please allow 30 days for a response.

Learn More

To learn more, visit the LIHEAP webpage on the PADHS website.


April 25, 2023

Advocacy Organizations Release Report on Rural Early Care and Education

Trying Together, in partnership with Start Strong PA and Pre-K for PA, recently released a report on the current state of early child care and education in Pennsylvania’s rural counties.

Entitled, “A Snapshot of the Rural Early Care and Education Landscape: Examining data from 13 counties in Pennsylvania,” the report shows that families in rural Pennsylvania communities have limited access to quality care, despite having a higher proportion of parents in the workforce, and a greater prevalence of long and nontraditional hours and commutes.

About Rural Counties and the Rural Early Care and Education Report

Authors of the report considered counties in which the number of people per square mile amounted to less than 291 (the statewide average), rural. Of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties, 72% met this definition, and just over 162,000 children under five live in them.

This report highlights data in the following rural counties: Armstrong, Butler, Centre, Clarion, Fayette, Franklin, Greene, Indiana, Somerset, and Washington. It also includes data from Lancaster, Westmoreland, and York counties. These counties aren’t classified as rural based on the population, but include pockets of rural communities facing similar challenges.

Report Findings

Rural families and child care providers have some of the greatest challenges in accessing and providing child care in Pennsylvania. This is due to the unique realities of rural areas, including fewer high-quality options, distance and travel, limited transportation, higher teacher turnover, fewer qualified individuals living in the region, and lower family incomes.


Working Families Child Care Needs

  • Nearly every rural county in PA shows a majority of all available parents in the labor force.
  • Seven of the counties reviewed have a higher proportion of working parents than does the state.
    • Over 80% of parents in Butler County are in the workforce, as are three quarters of parents in Indiana and Somerset counties.
  • In rural areas, options for evening, overnight, or weekend hours are scarce, with one parent describing them as non-existent.

Child Care Provider Capacity

  • The number of Child Care Works (CCW) subsidy-eligible children who need child care exceeds the licensed capacity in every county reviewed, with the exception of Centre.
    • Families are eligible for the CCW subsidy if their incomes are at or below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level ($60,000 for a family of four).
  • Most rural child care programs are not operating at full capacity because they don’t have enough staffing.
  • Statewide home-based providers make up about 30% of licensed programs, yet home-based providers comprise a much higher proportion in some of the rural counties analyzed.
    • In Greene County, home-based providers account for over 70% of licensed options, and for over half in Franklin County. Indiana County home-based providers make up 48% of licensed options, and in Armstrong and Somerset counties, home-based providers are 42% of licensed child care.

Public Funding for Child Care and Pre-K

  • The state only serves a quarter of CCW-eligible infants and toddlers. Unfortunately, this figure is even lower in every rural county reviewed. In rural counties, both subsidized and private pay infant and toddler care is difficult to find and afford.
  • Pre-K children are served at much higher rates than infants and toddlers, given that pre-k investments have been more consistent and sustainable.
    • Clarion, Greene, Indiana, and Lawrence counties are serving more than half of their eligible three- and four- year olds.

The Child Care Workforce

  • Pennsylvania is experiencing a dramatic decline in teachers from pre-k to 12th grade, and rural communities have been the most significantly impacted by this decline.
  • No county shows median annual earnings above $26,000, with six counties below $20,000 a year. The median earnings fall well under the cost of living in every county.
  • Providers highlighted the difficulty of training staff, especially with changing requirements and when onboarding new employees.
  • Another challenge that providers raised is the lack of mental and behavioral health and early intervention services.


Early childhood programs can’t continue to operate with their current budgets and expenses. Additionally, middle class families cannot continue to shoulder the brunt of the cost, while child care teachers subsidize the system through their own low wages. Thus, Trying Together, Start Strong PA, and Pre-K for PA recommend the following:

  1. Invest long-term, sustainable funding for early childhood educator wages.
  2. Conduct further research on family child care needs and choices in rural communities.
  3. Support resources and quality for home-based and relative care providers.
  4. Increase infant and toddler contracted slots (grants).
  5. Move to an alternative cost methodology for setting subsidy rates.
  6. Increase early intervention, mental health, and behavioral health resources, and professionals.
  7. Provide more support and resources to help rural providers meet training requirements.

Learn More

To learn more, read the full report.


April 24, 2023

April Recalls on Children’s Products

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

Learn More

Here is a list of April recalls collected from the following 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.


Westmoreland County Chamber Hosts Summit to Address Child Care Crisis

Area lawmakers, child care providers, and members of the business community met at Westmoreland County Community College on Thursday, April 20 to discuss concerns about a historic staffing shortage within the child care sector and its impact on the economy and working families.

About the Summit

Entitled, “Supporting Our Workforce: Child Care in Westmoreland County,” the event was organized by Start Strong PA and the Westmoreland County Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with:

It featured several speakers, including Pennsylvania State Representatives George Dunbar and Eric Davanzo, General Manager of Live! Casino Pittsburgh Sean Sullivan, Queens College Economist Dr. Clive Belfield, Executive Director of Trying Together Cara Ciminillo, and CEO of the Greensburg YMCA Suzanne Printz, all of whom detailed new research regarding the impacts of the child care crisis.

Summit Highlights

  • Sullivan noted impact that limited child care options has on the workforce, saying, “When parents don’t have reliable, affordable, and quality child care, their work suffers which has an impact for both the employee and employer.”
  • Belfield, who conducted the research for the recent ReadyNation report which revealed that gaps in the Pennsylvania child care system cost employers and taxpayers about $6.65 billion annually, cited the report. He explained that 60% of parents surveyed reported being late for work, leaving work early, or missing full days of work due to child care problems. Twenty-seven percent of respondents said they quit due to child care struggles.
  • Ciminillo referenced a new Start Strong PA study showing the average child care teacher in Pennsylvania earns $12.43 per hour or less than $25,844 per year.Our research shows that 50 percent of early learning educators say they do not plan to or are unsure of whether they will remain in their jobs in the next five years due to low wages,” Ciminillo said. 
  • Printz noted that child care providers can’t just raise teacher wages because families are already struggling to afford the costs of care.
  • Participants referenced the dire impact that low wages are having on the availability of care and a recent Start Strong PA survey that revealed more than 3,600 open staff positions across the state, resulting in more than 1,500 closed classrooms with a combined waitlist of more than 35,000 children.
  • Participants discussed a series of action steps for both policy makers and the private sector to better ensure affordable high-quality child care for Pennsylvania’s working families. Private sector actions included flexible working schedules, child care referrals, tuition assistance programs, dependent care flexible spending accounts, and even on-site care. For policy makers, participants stressed the urgent need for the Commonwealth to help implement and pay for a wage scale for child care teachers that will help providers better compete in the current labor market.

Learn More

To learn more, visit the the Start Strong PA website.


April 21, 2023

PNC Foundation to Match Donations to Pre-K and Head Start Requests

The PNC Foundation is partnering with DonorsChoose—an online nonprofit that allows individuals to fund classroom projects and teacher requests for resources and materials—to help early childhood educators obtain quality resources and experiences for students in public pre-K, public charter, and Head Start classrooms.

By committing to match “dollar-for-dollar” any DonorsChoose donations that support pre-k and Head Start projects, the foundation hopes to encourage others to fund child care and early childhood education.

The duration of the match is undetermined and subject to restrictions and a maximum dollar amount.

DonorsChoose Educator & Project Eligibility

Who can participate?

Pre-K teachers in every state, subject area, and grade level can use DonorsChoose. If you are an educator at a public school, public charter school, or Head Start program, are employed full-time by a school or district, and work directly with students at least 75% of the time, you are eligible to post projects.

What is eligible for funding?

You can request anything you need to enrich your students’ experience at school. Sports equipment? A classroom library? Furniture? Musical instruments? DonorsChoose can help. If you can imagine it, you can post a classroom project request for it.

How does it work?

The process is simple:

  1. Create your project in DonorsChoose.
  2. Receive donations from friends, family, and supporters through the DonorsChoose website.
  3. Receive your request. DonorsChoose orders everything for you and ships it straight to you or your school.

How long does it take?

The average project takes about 25 minutes to create and submit. Once your project is funded, DonorsChoose takes care of the rest.

Participate in the Match

To utilize the match from the PNC Foundation and better fund your pre-k or Head Start classroom project, add it to the DonorsChoose website by following the step-by-step instructions on the “How it Works” page.

Results from Past Partnerships Between the PNC Foundation & DonorsChoose

Previously, the PNC Foundation flash funded almost $2 million dollars in requests from 3,054 pre-k teachers across 30 states through DonorsChoose. As a result, almost 89,000 pre-k and Head Start students and their early educators received support for materials and projects. Throughout greater Pittsburgh, 126 pre-k teacher requests were fully funded.

Learn More

PNC’s support of DonorsChoose coincides with the launch of this year’s “Great Month” at PNC—an annual celebration held each April to raise awareness of PNC Grow Up Great® and the importance of high-quality early childhood education. Launched in 2004, the $500 million, bilingual initiative supports programs, resources, and experiences that help to prepare children from birth through age five for success in school and life.

To learn more about PNC’s partnership with DonorsChoose and how to participate, visit the PNC Bank website or view the flyer.


April 20, 2023

ELRC Region 5 Shares Resources and Information on Facebook

Early Learning Resource Center (ELRC) Region 5 makes resources and information available on social media. With an active presence on Facebook, ELRC Region 5 provides families, early learning service providers, and communities support for their child care needs in real time.

Learn More

Social media managers post to the ELRC Region 5 Facebook page at least once a day, providing the most up-to-date early childhood news, professional development opportunities, family events, ELRC Region 5 office hours, Child Care Works (CCW) information, family assistance opportunities, and more.

Facebook users interested in receiving daily information from ELRC Region 5 should like or follow the ELRC Region 5 page.

For additional resources and information from ELRC Region 5, subscribe to the monthly ELRC Region 5 Family Newsletter, or weekly ELRC Region 5 Providers Newsletter.


Remake Learning Days Return to Southwest Pennsylvania

Remake Learning Days return to the southwestern PA region from May 4 – 23, 2023 with events for youth, families, grandparents, caregivers, and educators to explore creative and fun ways of learning!

About Remake Learning Days

Remake Learning Days Across America (RLDAA) is an innovative learning festival for families and youth. Taking root in regions across the world, thousands of hands-on and engaging events are designed for children of all ages at libraries, schools, tech centers, museums, play spaces, community centers, and more.

Children, families, caregivers, and educators can attend in-person and virtual events hosted by schools, museums, libraries, after-school organizations, child care centers, tech companies and more.

Explore creative and engaging events and celebrate joyful learning, whether you build a robot, code an art spinner, direct a film, be a scientist, explore the outdoors, make your own music, or print your invention with a 3-D printer.

Professional development sessions are also available for school, out-of-school, child care, and non-traditional educators.

The majority of events are free and open to kids of all ages.

Southwestern PA Event Highlights

Youth Producers Meet-Up

Calling all songwriters, beatmakers, and mix engineers ages 14-22!

Come to the Youth Producers Meet-Up to share your tracks, hear how they sound in a professional studio, get feedback from peers and professionals, eat snacks, and meet other creative young music makers in Pittsburgh.

This event is FREE to attend.

When: Thursday, 5/04 | 4 – 7:30 p.m.

Where: YMCA Lighthouse Project, 7140 Bennett Street, Pittsburgh, PA. 15208

For more information or questions, visit the Remake Learning Days – Southwestern PA event page, or contact K. Bey at

Flex Space Summit

Flex Space Summit is a day full of exploration, innovation, and inspiration, bringing together teachers, architects, furniture designers, researchers, and more!

During this one-day conference, attendees will learn about reimagining learning spaces. This conference will be held at Allegheny Intermediate Unit (475 E Waterfront Drive, Homestead, PA. 15120).

This event is FREE to attend and is intended for adults. Registration is highly encouraged.

When: Friday, 5/05 | 8:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Where: Allegheny Intermediate Unit, 475 E Waterfront Drive, Homestead, PA. 15120


For more information or questions, visit the Remake Learning Days – Southwestern PA event page or contact Tyler Samstag at

Saturday Night Light Brigade Live Audience Broadcast

Are you interested in learning more about the world of radio?

Join SLB Radio for a special live-audience broadcast of The Saturday Light Brigade!

Attendees will tour the SLB Youth Media Center, then join the live studio audience as SLB Radio welcomes live musical acts, hears from youth guests, plays word games, and much more!

This event is FREE to attend and open to all ages.

When: Saturday, 5/06 | 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Where: SLB Youth Media Center, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, 10 Children’s Way, Pittsburgh, PA. 15212

For more information or questions, visit the Remake Learning Days – Southwestern PA event page or contact Tai Chirovsky at

Pop-Up! Chess

Queens Gambit will present Pop-up! Chess events across Pittsburgh every Saturday of Remake Learning Days! 

Those who attend can learn the game of chess, practice against instructors, or play with friends and family!

This event is FREE to participate in, and chess sets are provided!

When:  Saturdays, 5/06; 5/13; and 5/20 | 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Where: Allegheny Commons Park North Park, 810 Arch Street, Pittsburgh, PA. 15212

For more information or questions, visit the Remake Learning Days – Southwestern PA event page or contact Ashley Priore at

Cookie Connections at The History Center

Visit the Heinz History Center on Sunday, May 7, for “Cookie Connections” to learn how cookies have connected people for centuries. Explore the region through past and present cookie recipes and stories, activities, and artifacts related to making and baking Pittsburgh history.

This event is for all ages. Event cost is included in museum admission.

When: Sunday, 5/07 | 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Where: Heinz History Center, 1212 Smallman Street, Pittsburgh, PA. 15222

For more information or questions, visit the Remake Learning Days – Southwestern PA event page, or contact Roy Fischer at

Ultimate Play Day

Join us — Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative, Trying Together, Citiparks, and ZeroFossil — for Ultimate Play Day! 

Ultimate Play Day is a celebration of playfulness for people of all ages.

This annual event is an opportunity for people throughout the Pittsburgh region to play together and raise awareness of the benefits of play for all people—from birth to 199 years. Partner and community organizations offer play activities for all ages at a different venue each year.

Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative would like to send a special thank you to Remake Learning for providing a mini grant to The Collaborative for Ultimate Play Day.

This event is FREE to attend.

When: Sunday, 5/07 | 1 – 4 p.m.

Where: Lower McKinley Park, Bausman Street, Pittsburgh, PA. 15210 (Beltzhoover)

Share our flyer with your networks.

For more information, contact Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative at

Additional Information

A calendar with all Southwestern PA events is available on the Remake Learning Days website. Families, youth, and professionals can search events by date, time, location, learning theme, age group, and more. 

RLDAA is presented by Remake Learning and many nationwide partners and host organizations. For more information, visit the RLDAA website.


Strategies to Foster Risk Taking During Outdoor Play

Outdoor play is part of developmentally appropriate practice, and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children spend 60 minutes daily working their large muscles.

To support children in their outdoor play, early childhood educators can reframe their views of risk taking by acknowledging the developmental benefits of taking risks and working to remove barriers and boundaries that limit open, free play.

The National Association for the Education of Young Child (NAEYC) has provided the following five strategies to help early childhood educators foster risk taking in play:

Examine Existing Beliefs

Educators’ personal experiences and perceptions inform their actions and reactions to a child engaged in risky play. Educators can reflect on their own beliefs by asking certain questions to gauge how they champion or avoid risking taking. Taking time to self reflect in this way can help educators to determine how to foster risk and gauge the limitations they may place on risk taking and play.

Those introspective questions can include:

  • Am I a risk taker?
  • What worries me about taking risks?
  • What excites me about taking risks?
  • What childhood memories do I have of taking a risk?

Get to Know the Child and Environment

Teachers and children are familiar with their programs’ outdoor play spaces. Thanks to this familiarity, educators can evaluate the terrain and the safety of each structure and piece of equipment, including asking essential questions like:

  • How might each child navigate the space?
  • What hurdles may they face?
  • What kind of support may I need to offer?
  • When should I offer it?

Become an Observer

Outdoor spaces are designed to foster running, jumping, swinging, climbing, and moving over uneven terrain. As children move, early childhood educators should pay attention to their fine and large motor abilities, taking note when a child hesitates or pauses while engaged in a task or with others. Through observation, teachers will develop an understanding of a child’s ability to appraise and respond to risk.

Model and Encourage

Children grow in their ability to appraise risk by observing others’ play and movement. Educators can support risk taking by engaging in it themselves and expressing their thoughts verbally. This models the internal dialogue that occurs when assessing risks and challenges.

Such modeling can help children learn self-regulation as they examine their thoughts and feelings and determine their next steps.

When to Intervene

While acknowledging that risk taking is developmentally appropriate and a healthy part of early childhood, educators often find themselves in a paradox: they want to foster risky play and urge children to step out of their comfort zones, but they also must ensure safety.

Educators should insert themselves in a risky play scenario if:

  • the level of risk could lead to serious injury;
  • a child demonstrates emotional distress or fear; or
  • the structure or environment is hazardous (ice on play surfaces, broken glass, construction).

Learn More

To learn more about developmentally appropriate practices for early childhood development and education, be sure to visit the Trying Together Developmentally Appropriate Parenting Series.


May 16 Primary Election Information and Key Dates

On Tuesday, May 16, voters across the United States will vote in the primary elections. What does your primary election voting plan look like?

Be sure to dedicate time today to check your voter registration status, review what options you have to cast your vote, and create your personal voting timeline ahead of the 2023 Primary Elections.

Key Primary Election Dates

Mark your calendar for these key dates:

  • May 1, 2023 – Last day to register to vote before the May 16 election.
  • May 9, 2023 – Last day to apply for Absentee or Mail in Ballot. Applications must be received by 5 p.m.
    • The Mail-In Ballot Application is also available in Spanish.
  • May 16, 2023 – Last day to return Mail In or Absentee Ballots. Ballots must be received by 8 p.m.

Register to Vote

The deadline to register to vote is May 1, 2023. If you are not registered, register now by completing the Voter Registration Application.

If you are uncertain of your registration status, check it using the Pennsylvania Department of State Voter Registration Status Tool.

Voter Registration Applications are also available in Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Spanish, and Vietnamese.

Online voter registration is open until 11:59 p.m. on May 1, 2023.

Find Your Polling Place

Not sure where to vote? Use the Pennsylvania Department of State Polling Place Search Tool to locate your polling place for election day.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Any person in line at 8 p.m. will be allowed to vote.

Poll Workers

The Elections Division is currently seeking and assigning poll workers. Demonstrate your civic participation by serving on Election Day as a Judge, Inspector or Clerk of Election. Poll workers, also referred to as election officers, earn from $150 to $175 for the day. New poll workers also receive paid training.

Learn more about the Poll Worker Application process if you are interested participating in the May 16 primary election as a poll worker.

First Time Voter Information

First-time voters, including individuals that are voting for the first-time at the polling place, will be asked to show an approved form of identification.

Approved forms of photo ID (Remember, the ID must be valid and not expired.)

  • PA driver’s license or ID card issued by PennDOT
  • ID issued by any other Commonwealth agency
  • ID issued by the U.S. Government
  • U.S. Passport
  • U.S. Armed Forces ID
  • Student ID
  • Employee ID

Approved forms of non-photo ID (The ID must include the name and address of the elector)

  • Voter’s identification card issued by the voter registration commission
  • Non-photo ID issued by the Commonwealth
  • Non-photo ID issued by the U.S. Government
  • Firearm permit
  • Current utility bill
  • Current bank statement
  • Current paycheck
  • Government check

Visit the Pennsylvania Voter Services website for all of your voting information questions.

Learn More

If have questions about your registration status, polling place, or the May 16 election, visit the Allegheny County Elections website or contact the county election office at 412.350.4500.


Allegheny County Elections Division
542 Forbes Ave., Suite 312
Pittsburgh, PA 15219-2953

Monday – Friday: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.