February 26, 2024

PennAEYC Names Marcia Walters as 2024 VOICE for Children Distinguished Career Award Honoree

The Pennsylvania Association for the Education of Young Children (PennAEYC) named Marcia Walters, a retired Pittsburgh-based child care program director, as one of two 2024 VOICE for Children Distinguished Career Award Honorees.

Walters shares the honor with Deb Green, the Executive Director of the Parent Infant Center in Philadelphia. Both women will be recognized at the Annual VOICE For Children Award Celebration on Friday, April 5.


Walters dedicated her career to serving the South Pittsburgh communities in early care and education for more than 25 years.

As an advocate for young children and their families, Walters recognized the importance of an educational foundation for young children that is rooted in supporting the family. Walters created such a program through the development of Hilltop Community Children’s Center, a non-profit child care program.

Led by Walters’ dedication to the mission and vision of Hilltop and financial support, the program was able to offer onsite services such as a family support specialist and a parenting support group. The support group offered education about violence prevention, support and education to end generational poverty, and additional supports for at-risk children in the community.

Walters earned an Associates of Arts and Associates of Science degree with a certification in Women’s Studies from the Community College of Allegheny County. She also earned a Bachelor of Science in Education and certifications in Elementary and Early Childhood Education from the University of Pittsburgh.

Read Walters’ full biography to learn more.

More Information

To learn more about the PennAEYC VOICE awards, visit the PennAEYC website.


Playful Vendors and Volunteers Needed for Ultimate Play Day

Playful Pittsburgh is seeking playful vendors and volunteers for Ultimate Play Day 2024.

Ultimate Play Day, hosted by Playful Pittsburgh, Trying Together, and CitiParks, is a celebration of playfulness for people of all-ages.

The event will be held at Riverview Park in the Northside on Saturday, May 18, from 1 to 4 p.m. as part of Remake Learning Days – Southwestern PA in 2024.

Become a Playful Vendor

Ultimate Play Day aims to foster community connections and learning through playful activities.

If your organization would like to facilitate a playful activity at Ultimate Play Day, please fill out the vendor application form.

Special attention will be paid to organizations that submit interactive, playful ideas that do not involve strictly passing out literature or other informational handouts.


Playful Pittsburgh is in need of volunteers to help throughout the day. Volunteers can assist with set up, registration, game and playground support, teardown, and more. View descriptions of each volunteer role.

Anyone interested in volunteering can fill out the sign up form and indicate the role that they are interested in.

More Information

If you have any questions, contact Adam James Zahren, Program Director, Playful Pittsburgh at


February 25, 2024

Resources for March Observances

Various organizations, states, and nations recognize several observances each month. Resources help parents, caregivers, and childcare professionals acknowledge and navigate them.

Here is a list of resources for March observances:

Month-Long Observances:

Women’s History Month

National Nutrition Month

Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

National Craft Month

National Reading Month:

National Color Therapy Month

Week-Long Observances:

March 2-6 is National Read Across America Week


Day Observances:

March 1 is Baby Sleep Day 

March 1 is National Play Outside Day

March 8 is International Women’s Day

March 12 is National Working Moms Day

 March 14 is National Equal Pay Day

March 14 is Science Education Day

March 19 is International Read to Me Day

March 20 is International Day of Happiness

March 21 is World Down Syndrome Day


February 24, 2024

February 2024 Recalls on Children’s Products

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

Learn More

Here is a list of February 2024 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.


February 21, 2024

Nominations Open for 2024 Francine Bunch Memorial Award

Celebrate the successes of your Head Start or Early Head Start program by nominating a Head Start parent or staff member for 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.


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.


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.


The application is available at the PHSA website. The application deadline is Monday, April 1, 2024.


Request MOYC Materials for Your Early Learning Program

Trying Together is offering child care programs in the opportunity to receive Month of the Young Child (MOYC) materials.


Programs may request a mailed box of materials related to MOYC – observed each April – including:

  • Posters to display at their program location or to give to local businesses to promote the importance of child care in the community
  • Buttons for staff and families to wear during the month of April
  • Printed materials and resources from Trying Together and ELRC Region 5

Materials are available on a first-come, first-served basis while supplies last. Programs can expect to receive their boxes before the beginning of April.

Request your MOYC box.

About Month of the Young Child

First established by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) in 1971, the Week of the Young Child is an opportunity to focus public attention on the needs of young children and their families and to recognize the early childhood programs and services that meet those needs. Over the years, with growing interest and focus, Trying Together designated the entire month of April as the Month of the Young Child (MOYC).

In April 2024, Trying Together offer opportunities to elevate and celebrate early childhood by providing resources, hosting, co-hosting, and participating in child and caregiver -focused events, and working with early learning programs to share MOYC materials and experiences.

Learn More

To learn more about Month of the Young Child, visit Trying Together’s Month of the Young Child webpage.


Trying Together Offering Fundraising Opportunity for Early Childhood Programs

Trying Together is inviting early childhood program directors to join them at the Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community to raise funds for their early learning programs.

About the Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community

The Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community is an annual fundraising walk that benefits local health and human service agencies. The primary goal of the walk is to help participating organizations raise money for their individual missions. This year’s event will be held on Saturday, June 22, at Stage AE.

Though the Highmark Walk is a great opportunity for nonprofit organizations to raise funds, not all entities meet eligibility standards. If you are the owner or director of an early learning program, your program may be ineligible. However, Trying Together is inviting all early childhood program directors to join Trying Together at the walk to raise funds for their program.

Raise Money for An Early Learning Program

To raise funds for an early learning program, create a program walk team on behalf of Trying Together and join Trying Together at the Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community. After the walk, Trying Together will give 75% of all funds raised by early learning program teams back to their respective programs.

Create a Walk Team

Interested in teaming up with Trying Together? Start a team now! Start by visiting Trying Together’s Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community registration page. Once on the page, select “Click Here to Form Team.” Next, enter the name of your organization as the team name when prompted, and, finally, complete the registration form.

Learn More

If you need assistance creating a team or want to learn more, visit the Highmark Walk page on the Trying Together website.

Share this flyer with your networks.


February 14, 2024

OST Summer Staffing Survey

A+ Schools is working in partnership with the United Way to intentionally support out-of-school-time (OST) providers in summer staffing and recruitment. To that end, they are asking providers to fill out the survey about how to approach summer staffing.

Learn More

OST providers and Untied Way grantees can submit their input on summer staffing – particularly about when and how they engage candidates for summer staffing positions.

A+ Schools aims to amplify the region’s OST providers by creating an internal model that can support staffing, advertising, and retention of summer staff.

To ask questions or provide additional information, reach out to Will & Tyler at


PA Announces Intent to Launch Permanent Summer EBT Program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced that Pennsylvania is among the states that plan to be the first to launch the new, permanent summer grocery benefits program for children – known as Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) – in summer 2024.

About Summer EBT

Summer EBT benefits will come in the form of pre-loaded cards that families can use to purchase groceries. Beginning in summer 2024, families will receive $40 per eligible child, per month. These benefits work together with other available Food and Nutrition Service assistance programs, such as summer meal sites, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and WIC, to help ensure children have consistent access to critical nutrition when school is out.

For details, visit the USDA’s Summer EBT webpage.


February 13, 2024

Register for the 2024 Annual Celebration of Early Childhood Educators Dinner

Join Trying Together and your early care and education colleagues to celebrate the work you do for young children and families at the 2024 Annual Celebration of Early Childhood Educators Dinner on Thursday, April 25, from 6 – 8:30 p.m. at Acrisure Stadium.

About the Dinner

Guests will enjoy dinner, a photo booth, and prizes. Individual and group ticket prices are available, and free parking will be available for guests.

While we have never had a formal dress code for this event, many have used it as an opportunity to dress up. We recognize that many people will be coming from work directly to the event. Please dress in what is most comfortable and convenient for you!

Vegan, gluten free, and certified kosher options will be available.

Keynote Speaker
Shante’ A. Brown, Deputy Secretary for the PA Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL)

Shante’ A. Brown is a dedicated early childhood education leader with over a decade of experience in leading child care programs. She believes in connecting people to resources and building strong community relationships. Shante’ began her career with the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) in 2021 as the director for the Bureau of Certification Services.  She has served as a leader in multiple positions within Philadelphia including Director of PHLpreK, Philadelphia’s city-funded PreK Initiative, Education Field Administrator Early Childhood Coach, and PreK teacher with the School District of Philadelphia.

Shante’ holds a B.S.Ed. in Early Childhood – Elementary Education, M.S. in Reading Education, and an Ed.S. in Teacher Leadership. She is a genuine advocate for the field, and committed to positive outcomes for children, families, and providers in the state of Pennsylvania.

Reserve Your Tickets

Tables and individual tickets are available for purchase online.

Trying Together aims to make attending the Annual Celebration of Early Childhood Educators Dinner equitable for all attendees. The standard ticket price is set at $15 and tables of 10 are set at a discounted rate of $135 to ensure accessibility. We encourage registrants to consider the value of each ticket and table – $140 and $1,400, respectively – and contribute more if they are willing and able to do so. Your additional contribution will help support our dinner and enhance the experience of all attendees. We thank you for your generosity and for the additional support.

Registration is open until April 19, 2024.

More Information

Additional event details are available on the 2024 Annual Celebration of Early Childhood Educators Dinner webpage. For questions or assistance, please email