November 29, 2023

Trying Together Executive Director to Co-chair Committee on Education, Workforce, and Youth Investments

Allegheny County Executive-Elect Sara Innamorato has named nearly 200 esteemed and diverse leaders from the county to nine policy committees that will inform her administration’s governing agenda. 

Trying Together Executive Director Cara Ciminillo will co-chair the Robust Education, Workforce Development, and Youth Investments Committee.


All in Allegheny invites people from every part of the County to share their ideas, priorities, and needs with the Innamorato Administration. Members are divided into policy committees that draw on a range of expertise from across the county. 

All In Allegheny – a large and inclusive community engagement process that will understand what people from every part of Allegheny want from County government and build an action plan for County government to deliver on community needs during the Innamorato Administration. 

The nine policy committees are each focused on activating the powers of County government to deliver on the following community priorities:

  • Healthy Families and High-Quality Human Services 
  • Housing for All
  • Open and Accessible Government
  • Reliable, Modern Transportation and Infrastructure
  • Robust Education, Workforce Development, and Youth Investments
  • Safe Communities and Justice for All
  • Strong and Equitable Economic and Community Development
  • Sustainability, Environmental Justice, and a Green Economy
  • Vibrant Democracy

To learn more, visit Innamorato’s transition website,


Resources for December 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 December observances:

Month-Long Observances

Safe Toys and Gifts Awareness Month

Universal Human Rights Month

Learn a Foreign Language Month

Worldwide Food Service Safety Month

Week-Long Observances

December 4-8 is National Influenza Vaccination Week


Days of Recognition

December 2 is Special Education Day

December 3 is National Roof Over Your Head Day

December 3 is International Day of People with Disabilities

December 5 is National Communicate With Your Kids Day

December 10 is Human Rights Day

December 21 is National Short Story Day




November 28, 2023

November Recalls on Children’s Products

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

Learn More

Here is a list of November 2023 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.

More Resources

To read more recall reports


Recalled Cinnamon Applesauce Pouches Causing High Blood Lead Levels in Children

Various recalled cinnamon apple purée and applesauce products with elevated lead levels have been reported to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The recalled products have been the cause of 52 reported cases of illness in children, as of November 22.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Health Alert Network (HAN) Health Advisory to advise clinicians and health departments to report cases to their local health authorities.


FDA, CDC, and state and local partners are investigating a potential link between high blood lead levels and consuming certain cinnamon-containing apple purée and applesauce products.

State partners tested multiple lots of the reported products, and test results indicated the products contained extremely high levels of lead. WanaBana, Schnucks, and Weis have initiated voluntary recalls of certain lots of the following products:

  • WanaBana brand apple cinnamon fruit purée pouches
  • Schnucks brand cinnamon applesauce pouches
  • Weis brand cinnamon applesauce pouches

More Information

More information about the specific recalled products may be found on the FDA’s website: Investigation of Elevated Lead Levels: Applesauce Pouches (November 2023) | FDA


November 27, 2023

Show Your Support This #GivingTuesday

This #GivingTuesday, November 28, make a donation to Trying Together so we can continue to advocate together, learn together, and partner together to make sure caregivers and families have the resources they need to make the best decisions regarding children’s early learning experiences.

Through its vision and mission, Trying Together remains committed to making sure all young children have high-quality early learning experiences. Trying Together aims to be:

A collaborative convener that coordinates and helps to connect systems to support early care and education.

“Education access is a necessary step in ensuring that children are set up for success. That starts at birth. I taught at a preschool in the past and have a passion for that kind of work. I want professionals in the field to feel supported. Professional development to early childhood educators professionalizes the ECE field and ultimately creates better quality for all children across the 10-county region that we serve.” – Ben Filio, ECE Project Coordinator at Trying Together

An experienced facilitator of inclusive learning opportunities for educators that aims to ensure every child has access to high-quality early care and education.

“My passion is working with the Child Development Associate (CDA) program students. Our newest CDA program is for high school students. When they graduate, they will be workforce ready and know different career paths that they can take in the early childhood field.  Our children are our future, and these CDA students are very passionate about their work. They are so valuable to the lives of children, and I love working with them.” – Theresa Hetler, Workforce Development Strategist at Trying Together  

A trusted source for families to collaborate with regarding their child’s early experiences.

“I have been working with families for the past 18 years, and this work is extremely important to me because I want to ensure that Homewood Early Learning Hub and Family Center is the bridge between the community and families and the support that they need to thrive. Families need to have a place where they can go where their voices are heard and their needs are met. The Hub and Family Center serves as a diaper bank and a formula bank; we have programming for all members of the family; and child care professionals.  We do it from the heart. We love what we do.” – Nicole Banner, Assistant Director of the Homewood Early Learning Hub and Family Center

A committed advocate mobilizing for policy change alongside communities to elevate the needs of young children, families, and educators for an equitable early care and education system.

“The work I am doing with the policy team helps elevate the stories and the reality of working in the early childhood education field. We facilitate face-to-face meetings between professionals and their legislators to ensure that their voices are heard. This work is important to me because as a parent, I have peace of mind knowing that my son has access to high-quality early childhood education and I believe that every parent, caregiver, adult, or person in a young child’s life should also have the same opportunity.”  – Lizzie Morasco, Policy and Outreach Coordinator at Trying Together

An accountable nonprofit that prioritizes ethics when raising funds in support of its mission and provides transparent stewardship to its donors.

“I could be the operations manager at any company but I love working with Trying Together because it is very rewarding and satisfying. I’ve been with Trying Together for 11 years and I’ve seen it grow year after year. We’ve gained a really good reputation in the community with early childhood teachers and families. I feel so proud to work for the organization.” – Sharon Seitam, Operations Manager at Trying Together

Donate Today!


November 20, 2023

Start Strong PA and OCDEL Hosting Child Care Provider Listening Session

Start Strong PA partners and the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) Deputy Secretary Shante’ Brown are hosting 13 virtual child care provider listening sessions.

The sessions are designed to:

  • Share the results from Start Strong PA’s September 2023 child care provider survey (focused on successes and challenges with the Pennsylvania child care system);
  • Gather additional feedback on the Pennsylvania child care system from those working in the field;
  • Offer opportunities for questions to be answered by Deputy Secretary Brown; and
  • Present current and future opportunities to engage with Start Strong PA and OCDEL.

Event Details

Choose the Child Care Listening Session based on a child care program’s Early Learning Resource Center (ELRC) and register today! Home-based providers have an additional evening option available! To see all the available listening sessions, visit the event post.




November 15, 2023

Upcoming: Free Immigrant Workforce Program

Join Jewish Family and Community Services (JFCS) Career Services and Literacy Pittsburgh for an eight-week cohort to prepare immigrants through the job search process spanning a variety of industries. This eight-week cohort will focus on:

  • Resume & cover letter assistance
  • English language & technology support sessions
  • Interview preparation & practice
  • One-on-one career counseling
  • Virtual employer sessions & mock interviews
  • Online/safe job search strategies
  • LinkedIn & networking sessions

Cohort Details

The cohort will meet Wednesday and Thursday 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. The cohort sessions will begin on Wednesday, January 17, 2024, and end on March 7, 2024. The sessions will be held virtually. This program is free to participants.

Register for this opportunity today. For any additional questions, contact or 412.235.8065




Happening Now: Pennie 2024 Open Enrollment Period

The 2024 Open Enrollment Period for Pennie — Pennsylvania’s official health and dental insurance marketplace — is happening through January 15, 2024.

Learn More

Pennie is the official health insurance marketplace in PA established under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The exchange enables eligible individuals to purchase private health insurance coverage at federally subsidized rates.

Pennie’s plan comparison tool allows individuals to answer questions about their health status, preferred providers, and even prescription drug needs. The tool will then display coverage options with total costs for care, including premium, deductible, and total out-of-pocket costs.

Enroll by December 15, 2023, for coverage that kicks in on January 1, 2024. Enrollments completed between December 15, 2023, and January 15, 2024, will begin on February 1, 2024

For more information, visit


Nominations Open for the 2024 Voice for Children Award

Do you know an outstanding early childhood professional who is using their voice to advocate for young children and families? Nominate them for the 2024 Voice for Children Award!

Learn More

The VOICE for Children Award is the only statewide award in Pennsylvania that recognizes early care and education professionals, who are not paid advocates, that go above and beyond their daily work in the field by being grassroots leaders through advocacy and public policy efforts.

Nomination Criteria

Nominees must:

  • Display dispositions of a model early childhood advocate, including (but not exclusive to) serving as an expert witness, providing public testimony, appearing in media, serving on a board in a public policy capacity, receiving distinctive honors or awards for previous advocacy work, leading advocacy campaigns or actions, working with leaders and elected officials, and/or recognized as an early childhood leader in their community.

  • Be a current member of PennAEYC to be considered.

Nominate an Educator

Nominations must be submitted no later than Friday, December 1, 2023. To submit a nomination, complete this nomination form and email it to Director of Public Policy and Advocacy Kimberly Early at Please add “2024 VOICE Nomination” in your email subject line.

Nomination Guidelines

  • Nomination forms will be used to determine the winners of the VOICE for Children Award. Specific documentation (such as links to newspaper articles, titles, awards/honors) should be provided if known to substantiate a nominee’s advocacy efforts. PennAEYC staff will review each nomination based on the information provided. It is important that the nomination form is fully completed and all necessary information is included.

  • There is a 500-word maximum to your response to why you believe your nominee should be selected as a recipient of the 2024 PennAEYC VOICE for Children Award.

  • Including a biography of the nominee is encouraged, but not required.

  • Membership with PennAEYC is not required for the person nominating or endorsing a nominee.

To learn more, visit the PennAEYC website.


November 14, 2023

Pennsylvania Key Streamlines the Child Development Associate Process

The Pennsylvania Key partnered with the Council for Professional Recognition to enhance the Child Development Associate (CDA) process in Pennsylvania.

Learn More

This new process allows providers to pull a CDA Summary Report within their Professional Development (PD) Registry profile. This report will show if any PD hours can be applied to the CDA credential. The PD training hours are then divided into ten CDA content areas and will be accepted by the CDA Council as evidence that works towards the credential.

This new process will replace the previously used Professional Development Learning Record (PDLR) when submitting PD hours to the CDA Council. The CDA Council will no longer accept the PDLR. CDA candidates who complete their training hours for credit at an Institute of Higher Education (IHE) will still be required to provide their college transcripts as evidence of training completion.

To see step-by-step instructions on where to find and how to pull the new CDA Summary Report, view the tip sheet.


Information for this post was taken directly from The Pennsylvania Key’s PA Early Ed News email. Some text may have been added, paraphrased, or adapted for readability and comprehension.

Resources and Related Content

To learn more about the CDA program at Trying Together, please visit our CDA Credentials page.