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News

January 9, 2020

Rising STARS Tuition Assistance Maximum Benefit Increased

For Fiscal Year 2019-20, the maximum benefit for the Rising STARS Tuition Assistance (RSTA) program has increased to $8,000 per individual.

About

Administered by The Pennsylvania Key, the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL)’s RSTA program helps cover a portion of tuition costs for Pennsylvania’s early childhood educators. Tuition costs net of other funding sources such as scholarships, stipends, discounts, or grants (except the Pell Grant) are used to determine the amount of assistance, with the Fiscal  Year 2019-20 maximum benefit listed as $8,000. It is recommended completed applications be submitted at least four weeks prior to the start of the course, or prior to the tuition due date, whichever is first.

More Information

For eligibility requirements, the application process, and more, visit the Pennsylvania Key website.

*Information provided by PA Early Ed News

News

January 8, 2020

Changes to Clearances for Employees Having Contact with Children

In July 2019, Governor Tom Wolf signed an executive order to strengthen protections for vulnerable populations, including children who receive child care services outside of their homes.

About the Change

The federal Family First Prevention Services Act requires all adults who work in child care settings that receive Title IV-E funding to obtain child abuse clearances, even if they are not working directly with children. Pennsylvania’s Child Protective Services law formerly allowed a 90-day provisional hire period for individuals who had applied for but were still waiting for clearance results. However, in 2019, Act 47 eliminated this 90-day provisional hire period to ensure that all adults working with children are legally able to do so.

Based on Act 47, child care centers, group child care homes, and family child care homes can request a waiver to hire an employee on a provisional basis for no longer than 45 days. The Department of Human Services is required to process Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Clearances within 14 days from the day in which the request is received and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) criminal history background checks within 30 days from the date of receipt. Generally, these clearances are processed more quickly than required.

New employees are not permitted to work alone with children and must be in the immediate vicinity of a permanent employee until all clearances are received. To access the waiver and instructions, visit the Keep Kids Safe website.

More Information

For more information on obtaining clearances, visit the Keep Kids Safe website.

*Information provided by PA Early Ed News

News

December 20, 2019

CDA Renewal Amnesty Program Begins January 1, 2020

For a limited time, early childhood professionals whose Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential lapsed or expired can take advantage of a CDA Renewal Amnesty program.

About

Running from January 1, 2020 to March 31, 2020, the CDA Renewal Amnesty program provides early childhood education professionals who completed their CDA but did not submit a renewal in time to keep the CDA current an opportunity to reinstate their credential.

The renewal program is eligible for Rising Stars Tuition Assistance (RSTA). Professionals interested in applying for assistance must complete their profile in the PD Registry to access the Financial Assistance tab. For more information about RSTA, visit the PA Key website.

Eligibility Requirements

To qualify, professionals must meet the following eligibility requirements:

All applications and payments ($125) must be submitted online by March 31, 2020.

PDOs and New CDA Cohorts

Pennsylvania’s Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) is implementing statewide Professional Development Organizations (PDOs). PDOs will specialize in access to credit-bearing coursework and credentials for the early childhood education (ECE) workforce. Shippensburg University and Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC) were selected as the PDOs in Pennsylvania. See a regional map.

While PDOs begin their work, The Pennsylvania Key contracted with several organizations and institutes of higher education, including Trying Together and Early Learning Resource Center (ELRC) Region 5, to offer community-based cohorts so that individuals attempting to obtain a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential can complete the 120 hours of coursework and receive additional support. This opportunity is only available for 2019-20. Space in these cohorts is limited.

For more information about Trying Together and ELRC Region 5’s CDA program, contact Jan Sapotichne at jan.elrc5@alleghenycounty.us or 412.350.3604.

Learn More

To learn more about the CDA Renewal Amnesty program, visit the Council for Professional Recognition website.

*Information provided by the Pennsylvania Key

News

December 19, 2019

Head Start Coaching Companion Available

If you are an early care and education professional who is interested in receiving coaching feedback and sharing videos, consider using the Head Start Coaching Companion!

About

By utilizing the Head Start Coaching Companion, early childhood professionals will view examples of teaching practices, record their teaching interactions, and track their progress using three major components of Practice-Based Coaching (PBC), including:

    • shared goals and action planning;
    • focused observation; and
    • reflection and feedback.

Though PBC was designed with Head Start programs in mind, it aligns with a variety of coaching models.

Requirements

To utilize the Head Start Coaching Companion, professionals should have access to a computer, tablet, or smartphone with basic video editing software; a digital video camera, tablet, or smartphone with video capability; and reliable internet access. Video footage will be utilized to record teaching interactions.

See the Head Start Coaching Companion handout to learn more.

Learn More

To get started, educators can submit a Coaching Companion application and learn more online. View the Coaching Companion PDF or email coachingcompanion@eclkc.info for additional information.

*Information provided via Early Learning Resource Center (ELRC) Region 5

News

December 18, 2019

Online Resource: Supporting Children with Hearing Loss

To support families and professionals who interact with children with hearing loss, Early Intervention Technical Assistance (EITA) developed an online resource titled, “Getting Started: Supporting Children with Hearing Loss.”

About

In the first section of their free course, EITA says that “families who have just received word that their child is deaf or hard of hearing can display a wide range of reactions,” with most wondering what caused the hearing loss in the first place. To increase family and professional knowledge and awareness about hearing, hearing loss, and available supports in Pennsylvania, EITA created the “Getting Started: Supporting Children with Hearing Loss” course. In it, EITA highlights important information and resources, including first steps, communication and language resources, best practices, and more.

Click here to view the resource.

More Information

For more information and to access the resource, visit the EITA website.

News

December 17, 2019

PHAN Transportation and Health Survey

Are you interested in sharing your voice to support your community? Participate in the Pennsylvania Health Action Network’s (PHAN) new survey on transportation and health! Survey responses will be confidential and should take roughly four minutes to complete. The survey will include questions about transportation for going to the doctor, dentist, a clinic, getting a test or lab done, or other kinds of health visits, such as mental health or substance use disorder treatment.

Take the Survey

The survey is available in both English and Spanish and can be completed using the following links:

More Information

If you have any questions, please reach out to Jessy Foster at jessica@pahealthaccess.org.

News

December 16, 2019

PDO Needs Assessment Survey: Upcoming Deadline

Early care and education professionals in southwestern Pennsylvania are being asked to take the Professional Development Organization (PDO) Needs Assessment Survey.

About

From now through December 31, 2019, PDOs are performing a needs assessment with early childhood professionals by region and will develop a strategic plan and timetable for each. The survey will take approximately 10 – 15 minutes. Responses will be used to finalize the work plan and timeline for the Southwest and other regions that Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania will serve. Following this period, community outreach will begin. Click here to take complete the survey.

During this transition, professionals who wish to obtain their Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential can find credit-bearing coursework through Westmoreland County Community College and Harrisburg Area Community College.

PDOs

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services’ (DHS) Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) announced the selection of its six regional PDOs in October 2019. The PDOs were created to coordinate and facilitate access to credit-bearing coursework and credentials for early care and education professionals in Pennsylvania. PDOs support direct access across each service region for the early childhood workforce to participate in continuing education through a mixed delivery model and coordinate with the Early Learning Resource Centers in improving the quality of early learning programs.

The regional PDO selection for the Southwest region is Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania. The Shippensburg PDO also supports the Central, Northeast, and Northwest regions. See the regional PDO map here.

More Information

To learn more about PDOs, read the Pennsylvania Key’s announcement.

*Information provided by OCDEL 

News

December 13, 2019

2019-20 Carton 2 Garden Contest Receiving Entries

Are you interested in building or enhancing your school garden? Evergreen Packaging and KidsGardening.org are hosting the sixth national Carton 2 Garden Contest!

About

The Carton 2 Garden Contest is open to public and private schools, with contest winners selected based on their implementation of an innovative garden creation featuring creative, sustainable uses for repurposed milk and juice cartons. Schools can get started by collecting at least 100 empty cartons from homes, the community, or their cafeteria. After gathering the cartons, schools design and construct purposeful garden items and structures using them. For ideas, view last year’s winners.

Eligibility & Entry

Carton 2 Garden is open to all K-12 public and private schools in the United States. Schools do not need a garden to participate. Pre-k classes located at schools serving additional elementary, middle, and/or high school grade levels may also enter the contest. With this, all entries must document and share their gardening experience through an online entry form and submission of up to 10 photos.

To be eligible for the grand prize and specialty prizes, entries must also include a video link (under five minutes) that tells the story of the project in its entirety. View the Entry Form Checklist. Every student that appears in photos or videos must have an accompanying signed parent release form submitted with your entry. The form is also available in Spanish.

All entries must be submitted by midnight on Wednesday, April 1, 2020. Click here to access the online entry form.

Awards

Fifteen entries will be selected to receive award packages for their efforts, including:

    • one grand prize winner who will receive a prize valued at $5,000;
    • four winners, selected for exemplary demonstration in the following specialty areas: Carton Act in the Garden, Environmental Stewardship, Health and Nutrition, and STEM; who will receive a prize valued at $2,000 each; and
    • ten winners (five middle/high schools and five elementary schools) who will receive award packages valued at $1,000 each.

More Information

To learn more about the Carton 2 Garden Contest, visit the Kids Gardening website.

News

December 12, 2019

NAFCC Calls for National Conference Workshop Proposals

The National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC) is currently seeking workshop proposals for the 30th National Family Child Care Conference, taking place in Norfolk, Virginia July 15-18, 2020. NAFCC works to support and leverage a nationwide network of providers and partners in expanding and promoting the power of family child care.

About

Workshop proposals should focus on family child care providers and the many qualities that make family child care unique to early care and education. Attendees are looking for sessions that focus on practical solutions to increase their knowledge and effectiveness; to engage and challenge their thinking; and to nurture their purpose, creativity, and professional excellence. Presenters should focus their content for the various roles in family child care, such as:

    • family child care providers;
    • early Head Start community;
    • child nutrition community;
    • coaches, mentors, and trainers;
    • family child care networks; and/or
    • state agencies.

Many conference attendees have a strong background in family child care and programs, so advanced level workshops are encouraged, as are Spanish speaking presentations.

Submit Your Proposal

If you’re interested in submitting a workshop proposal, visit the NAFCC website. Proposals must be submitted by January 15, 2020. Click here to learn more.

*Information provided by the Pennsylvania Key