News

April 8, 2020

Schedule Summer/Fall 2020 PD Today!

Are you thinking about summer and fall? Schedule Custom Professional Development dates for your early learning program today! The deadline to guarantee your preferred date is June 1, 2020. Space is limited!

About

Focusing on early childhood professionals working in home, center, and school-based settings, Trying Together delivers professional growth opportunities in-person, virtually, and online. Customized offerings can be created and targeted to individual or group goals, interests, or needs.

To submit a request for professional services, complete and submit Trying Together’s online request form. All requests must be received before June 1, 2020 to guarantee your preferred date.

More Information

For questions or more information, contact Jasmine Davis at jasmine@tryingtogether.org or 412.567.3933.

News

April 6, 2020

COVID-19 Impact on Child Care Survey Now Available

Many states, including Pennsylvania, have ordered all non-life-sustaining businesses to close their physical spaces as a mitigation effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). While lists of impacted businesses often include gyms, movie theaters, and clothing stores, they also often include a critical service that impacts families and caregivers across the nation: child care.

To better understand the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on families and caregivers, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) has launched a detailed survey and is seeking submissions from the public.

About

On March 12, 2020, NAEYC launched a survey asking child care programs to share the challenges they were expecting to face and to comment on what they needed to protect children, families, and our nation’s supply of child care programs. NAEYC received responses from 11,500 educators in family child care and center-based programs across the country, which has helped shape federal and state responses to the pandemic. 

Now, several weeks into the pandemic, as many states take action and a federal stimulus bill has passed, NAEYC is launching a more detailed survey with the intention to help organizations and policymakers understand the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 and the solutions that have been put forth thus far.

Complete the Survey

This survey is for everyone, including center-based programs, family child care programs, and others. However, not all questions may apply to your specific situation. Please complete the survey and fill out applicable questions to help NAEYC gather a range of perspectives on the impact of COVID-19 on child care. To participate, please visit the survey page.

More Information

For questions, please contact NAEYC at info@naeyc.org or 800.424.2460.

News

March 27, 2020

Pennsylvania Adjusts Mail-In Ballot Deadlines for COVID-19

Pennsylvania is now offering two options that community members can choose from to submit their vote if they are unable to get to the polls on election day, including mail-in and absentee ballots. Registered voters can submit either ballot via mail or in person at their County Election Office. Election and deadline dates for ballots have now changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

About

Thanks to sweeping reforms included in Act 77 of 2019, which take effect for the first time in the upcoming 2020 primary election, mail-in ballots will be available as an effort to increase voter access and security. Mail-in ballots not only offer an additional option for voters who are unable to make it to the polls but also provide a new option for Pennsylvanians who do not qualify for absentee ballots. Both mail-in and absentee voters will receive a ballot in the mail to complete and return to their county election office by 8 p.m. on election day (June 2, 2020).

In order to request either ballot type, you must be registered to vote. Visit Check Your Registration Status to review your registration information. The deadline for voter registration is now May 18, 2020

Absentee Ballots

If you plan to be out of the municipality on election day or if you have a disability or illness, you can request an absentee ballot. Voters will be required to list the reason for submitting this ballot type. This ballot type is best suited for:

    • college students who are not registered to vote at their school address,
    • people whose work or vacation take them away from the municipality where they live,
    • those with a physical disability or illness that prevents them from going to the polling place,
    • members of the military,
    • people who may have a conflict due to the celebration of a religious holiday, and
    • inmates who haven’t be convicted of a felony.
Submit an Application

Applications to receive an absentee ballot for the 2020 primary election must be received by your County Election Office by 5 p.m. on May 26, 2020. Complete the online application by clicking here.

Special election voters can apply for an absentee ballot by completing the paper application form and submitting it to your County Election Office.

Mail-In Ballots

If you aren’t an absentee voter, you may apply for a mail-in ballot. Voters will not be required to list a reason for submitting this ballot type. This ballot type is suited for any person who wishes to submit their vote without visiting a polling place. Please note that mail-in ballots are not available for any election prior to the 2020 primary election.

Submit an Application

Applications to receive a mail-in ballot for the 2020 primary election must be received by your County Election Office by 5 p.m. on May 26, 2020. Complete the online application by clicking here. After receiving your ballot in the mail, your completed ballot must be received no later than 8 p.m. on June 2, 2020.

Registering to Vote

Community members must register to vote at least 15 days before the election. To participate in the 2020 Primary Election, voter registrations must be submitted by May 18, 2020. Individuals can register to vote online, by mail, in person at your county voter registration office, or at a number of government agencies, including PennDOT Photo License and Driver’s License Centers.

For more information on eligibility and registering to vote in Pennsylvania, visit the Votes PA website.

More Information

Visit the Votes PA website for more information on mail-in and absentee ballots, registering to vote in Pennsylvania, what to expect as a first-time voter, upcoming elections, and more.

Information provided by Votes PA and Keystone Votes 

News

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information

As of April 9, 2020 at 12 p.m., the Pennsylvania Department of Health has stated that there are 18,228 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the Commonwealth, including 759 positive cases in Allegheny County. For a full breakdown of affected counties, visit health.pa.gov.

While positive cases have been confirmed, it’s important for community members to remain calm, prepare, and take precautionary measures to reduce your likelihood of infection.


COVID-19 Resources

To best support these community members and the young children in their lives, Trying Together has created two resource lists, featuring helpful resources that families and educators can use to maneuver this difficult time. Click the links below for more information.

Guidance for Pennsylvanians

All 67 counties in Pennsylvania are under a Stay-at-Home Order through April 30, 2020. Stay home as much as possible. Try to get groceries once per week instead of daily. Freedom of travel remains, but please refrain from non-essential travel. Essential travel includes things like commuting to an essential job, picking up supplies like groceries and medicine, and checking on family and pets in other households. Do not host or attend gatherings.

For more information about COVID-19 and prevention strategies, continue reading below.

What is COVID-19?

According to the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD), “COVID-19 is a disease caused by a new coronavirus not previously seen in humans.” While this strain of coronavirus is new, coronaviruses are actually a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others circulating among animals, including camels, cats, and bats. While it is rare for animal coronaviruses to infect people who are exposed to infected animals, it has happened in the past as seen with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).

Symptoms

As COVID-19 is a respiratory disease, common symptoms of infection include fever, dry cough, tiredness, shortness of breath, and difficulty breathing. However, WHO states that some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat, and diarrhea. After being infected with COVID-19, individuals generally display mild symptoms that begin gradually, but some people who become infected may not develop any symptoms at all and may feel healthy.

80 percent of the individuals who become infected recover from the disease without needing special treatment. However, one out of every six people who get COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Elderly individuals, immunocompromised individuals, and individuals with underlying medical conditions such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney diseases, hepatitis B, and cancer are particularly at risk of developing serious illness if infected with COVID-19. Because of this, it’s important to limit possible contamination and reduce the spread of the virus.

Currently, there are no vaccines or medications approved to prevent or treat COVID-19 and reported illnesses have ranged from mild to severe cases, including illness resulting in death. However, possible vaccines and drug treatments are currently being investigated through clinical trials.

How It Spreads

COVID-19 spreads through person-to-person contact (within about six feet) or by touching your mouth, nose, or eyes after coming into contact with surfaces that have been contaminated with respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. WHO states that “studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days.”

The risk of getting infected by COVID-19 depends on where you are and if there is an outbreak currently happening in that area. Individuals living in or visiting cities or areas that are experiencing an outbreak have a higher risk of becoming infected. There is a higher risk of infection and serious complications for elderly individuals, immunocompromised individuals, and individuals with underlying medical conditions. With this, WHO states that it’s important to “comply with any local restrictions on travel, movement, or large gatherings” and to cooperate with disease control efforts to reduce your risk and potential spread.

How to Protect Yourself

Currently, the most effective ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19 to protect both yourself and others against infection are to:

    • avoid touching your face, nose, and mouth;
    • if water and soap are not available, sanitize your hands regularly with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol;
    • clean and disinfect commonly used items and frequently touched surfaces such as the items listed above with household cleaners and EPA-registered disinfectants that are appropriate for the surface, following the label directions appropriately;
    • practice social distancing from others, especially avoiding individuals who are exhibiting symptoms, coughing, or sneezing; and
    • comply with any local restrictions and recommendations on travel, movement, or large gatherings.

Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website for more information on how to properly clean and disinfect the areas around you. While this resource is primarily intended for individuals and households with suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19, hygienic practices can help reduce the spread of the virus. Watch this video for proper handwashing techniques.

Resource for At-Risk Individuals

The CDC also has a resource highlighting precautions and preparation tips for individuals at risk of developing serious complications from COVID-19, such as elderly individuals, immunosuppressed individuals, and individuals with underlying medical conditions. Visit the CDC website to learn more. 

What to Do After Infection

If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, cough, and shortness of breath, please stay at home and contact your primary care provider to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19. If you are in Allegheny County, do not have a primary care provider, and are not sure if you need to be tested, please contact the Allegheny Health Department at 412.687.2243. If you need to seek immediate medical care, please call 911 or phone ahead before going to a doctor’s office or emergency department to ensure staff at these locations have time to prepare for your arrival.

If an infection is confirmed, health care professionals will assess whether the infected individual needs to be hospitalized or if they can be cared for at home in mandatory quarantine. If isolated at home, infected individuals will be monitored by staff from their local or state health department.

Until a healthcare provider says that you or the infected person can return to their normal activities, the CDC states that infected and potentially infected individuals should follow the following preventive measures:

    • stay at home except to get medical care (do not go to school, work, or public areas and avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxi services);
    • separate yourself from other people and animals in your home as much as possible, if possible;
    • if you must care for others or your pet while sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with them and wear a face mask;
    • call ahead before visiting your doctor, as they need to take steps to prepare to reduce spread and exposure;
    • wear a face mask when you are around other people and animals; and
    • cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your elbow, followed immediately by washing your hands with soap and water or sanitizing with an alcohol-based sanitizer.

For a full list of preventative measures and precautions, visit the CDC website.

More Information

For more information about COVID-19, visit the Allegheny County Health Department, World Health Organization (WHO), or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention websites.

*Information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, and Allegheny County Health Department

News

March 24, 2020

COVID-19: Resources for Parents and Caregivers

If you are a parent, caregiver, or family member living in Pennsylvania, it’s important to remain calm, prepare, and take precautionary measures to maintain the health and wellbeing of yourself, your family, and the community. Continue reading below for a brief overview of COVID-19 and a list of family and caregiver resources.

Submit a Resource

Do you have a resource for families or early learning professionals that should be added to our lists? Complete Trying Together’s COVID-19 Resource Submission Form!

 


PA 2.1.1 Southwest

If you require assistance and would like to access an extensive list of family and caregiver resources, please call 2.1.1 or text your zip code to 898.211 to receive text alerts. For more information or to receive support, visit the 2.1.1 website.

PA 2.1.1 Southwest seeks to provide an easy-to-remember phone number and web resource for finding health and human services for everyday needs and in crisis situations, serving the following counties: Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Cambria, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Lawrence, Mercer, Somerset, Washington, and Westmoreland.


 

An Overview of COVID-19

COVID-19 is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a new coronavirus not previously seen in humans. Because the virus impacts the respiratory system, common symptoms of infection include fever, dry cough, tiredness, shortness of breath, and difficulty breathing. However, WHO states that some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat, and diarrhea. After being infected with COVID-19, individuals generally display mild symptoms that begin gradually, but some people who become infected may not develop any symptoms at all and may feel healthy.

To learn more about COVID-19 and the steps you can take to reduce your family’s risk of infection, read our recent news post. This post also includes information about what to do after infection, information on how it spreads, and links to several other organizations and entities that can provide more information.

Update on School Closures

On April 9, 2020, Governor Wolf announced that all schools in Pennsylvania will remain closed through the end of the academic school year as a mitigation effort to reduce the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS)

As an institution for learning, PPS knows there is concern about the loss of student learning during school closures. Because of this, PPS has created supplemental grade-level activity packets.

Additional online activities are available via the District’s CLEVER portal. A video on how to use and login to CLEVER can be found on the District’s VIMEO page. Printed packets for English Language Arts and Mathematics will be available for students at Grab and Go locations next week. Some District schools have also produced activity packets which can be found on the individual school websites.

Due to issues of equity and access, PPS cannot provide online learning options at this time. Since all District students do not have access to technology, internet in the home, or transportation to a Grab and Go site, the completion of activity packets is optional and will not count towards student grades. This also applies to any extra assignments provided between March 16 and April 14, 2020. Extra credit is also not allowable. Click here to learn more.

Meals for Schoolchildren

In partnership with local community organizations, Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) will shift the distribution of Grab and Go meals to regional sites across the city. Open to all students, the locations were selected based on student participation during the first week of closure. Meals will be distributed between 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays. Multiple meals will be distributed on Tuesdays and Fridays. Visit the PPS website for a list of Grab and Go meal locations.

The PPS Food Service Department will be closed from Monday, April 6 through Monday, April 13, 2020 for spring break. However, the District will deliver four days of meals. Parkhurst Dining Services, through the generous support of the United Way, will be sending an additional two meals for distribution to sites on Friday, April 3. Non-PPS sites will continue to distribute food during spring break. To learn more, visit www.pghschools.org/grabandgo.

 


 

Resources

Information about COVID-19

Talking with Children

Prevention

After Infection

Impacts on Child Care, School, and Work

At-Home Activities

Fact Sheets

Informational Flyers

Recorded Webinars

Mental Health

Receiving Support

Multilingual Resources

Curated Lists

Contacts and Information

More Information

For more information about COVID-19, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), or World Health Organization (WHO) websites.

News

COVID-19: Resources for Early Learning Programs

If you work for or operate an early learning program in Pennsylvania, including public and private schools; child care centers; group child care homes; family child care homes; family, friend, and neighbor care, it’s important to remain calm, prepare, and take precautionary measures. By doing so, you will help to maintain the health and wellbeing of yourself, other staff, and the communities you serve. For up-to-date recommendations, please visit the ELRC Region 5 website.

Continue reading below for a brief overview of COVID-19; information about waivers and enrollment capacity; and a list of resources.

Submit a Resource

Do you have a resource for families or early learning professionals that should be added to our lists? Complete Trying Together’s COVID-19 Resource Submission Form!

 


 

An Overview of COVID-19

COVID-19 is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a new coronavirus not previously seen in humans. Because the virus impacts the respiratory system, common symptoms of infection include fever, dry cough, tiredness, shortness of breath, and difficulty breathing. However, WHO states that some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat, and diarrhea. After being infected with COVID-19, individuals generally display mild symptoms that begin gradually, but some people who become infected may not develop any symptoms at all and may feel healthy.

To learn more about COVID-19 and the steps you can take to reduce your family’s risk of infection, read our recent news post. This post also includes information about what to do after infection, information on how it spreads, and links to several other organizations and entities that can provide more information.

Pennsylvania Temporary Closure Order Waiver

The Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) has implemented a waiver process for child care facilities who wish or are continuing to serve children of essential services personnel such as health care workers, first responders, direct health care staff, and long term care facility staff.

Child care programs seeking a waiver from the Commonwealth’s temporary closure order (except those operating in Philadelphia) should complete the Exemption of Directive to Temporary Close Form. Completed waiver forms should be emailed to the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) at RA-PWDRACERT@PA.GOV. Child care certification staff will respond to requests as quickly as possible. Email subject line should read, “Waiver Request – (Insert County Name).”

Providers who have already submitted applications should not resubmit or send additional requests to the RA-PWDRACERT@PA.GOV account. For questions, please call OCDEL at 1.877.472.5437 or your Child Care Certification Representative.

Enrollment Capacity

It is likely that as this situation progresses, families may need to make changes to their child care arrangements if their provider does not continue to operate. If you are currently operating with an Exemption of Directive to Temporarily Close waiver and are willing to accept new children of essential employees, please contact your Early Learning Resource Center (ELRC). Once you’ve notified your ELRC, they will be able to direct families to your facility.

To contact your ELRC, please visit www.raiseyourstar.org.

 


 

Resources

Information about COVID-19

Guidance for Providers

Remote Learning

Talking with Children

Prevention

After Infection

Impacts on Child Care, School, and Work

Fact Sheets

Informational Flyers

Mental Health

Receiving Support

Multilingual Resources

Curated Lists

Contacts and Information

More Information

For more information about COVID-19, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), or World Health Organization (WHO) websites.

News

March 23, 2020

Senior Center Alternative Meals Available in Pittsburgh

Senior Center alternative meals will be provided to seniors who are currently registered for normal congregate meal service beginning Friday, March 20, 2020. A pre-packaged (likely frozen) meal will be available through the current food distribution providers that are used through the Allegheny County Area Agency on Aging program. Seniors who are registered for this program have previously identified as being in need and regularly receive these meals.

Available Locations

Pre-packaged meals will be available for take-out only and will be served between 11:00 a.m. through 1 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at these City Healthy Active Living (Senior) Centers:

Approximately 100 meals per day will be distributed to registered seniors.

More Information

Seniors who are not registered for the program but are in need of food or other resources should contact the Allegheny County Area on Aging’s SeniorLine (1.800.344.4319).

Click here to view the City of Pittsburgh’s original press release.

*Information provided by the City of Pittsburgh

News

March 19, 2020

UnConference Postponed Due to COVID-19 Concerns

Due to the presence of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Allegheny County and many other Pennsylvania communities, Trying Together has decided to postpone the UnConference: Exceptional Care with a Team Approach to Inclusion, originally scheduled for March 28, 2020.

About

Trying Together has made this decision out of care for our community and partners, following the Allegheny County Department of Health’s lead and recommendation to postpone large group events. We are sorry for any inconvenience or disappointment this may cause. Like many of those who registered to attend, our organization was very excited about this UnConference topic, our great line-up of workshop presenters, and keynote speaker.

We are actively working with our co-host, The Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh, to reschedule this UnConference to a later date. Please know that this is a postponement, not a cancellation. Trying Together will provide further information in April when more concrete information is available.

Thank you for your understanding and flexibility. Keep up the good handwashing!

More Information

For more information about COVID-19 in Pennsylvania, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Health. For questions regarding this postponement, contact Trying Together at info@tryingtogether.org.

News

Four Centers in Pittsburgh Offering Grab-and-Go Meals

Four city and Salvation Army centers around Pittsburgh will be offering grab-and-go meals for city schoolchildren starting Thursday, March 19, 2020, in conjunction with the Pittsburgh Public Schools.

Available Locations

The Department of Parks and Recreation has received approval to activate meals at the following four locations:

More Information

All meal hand-out operations will commence on weekdays (Monday through Friday) from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) will provide 100 grab-and-go lunches for each site. This approach may be re-adjusted to respond to actual needs.

Click here to view the City of Pittsburgh’s original press release.

*Information provided by the City of Pittsburgh

News

March 9, 2020

Interviews with Ms. Barb and Families at the Frank Sarris Library

Prior to the start of the Washington County Focus Week (March 9 – 13, 2020), Trying Together visited staff, families, and young children at the Frank Sarris Public Library in Canonsburg for a reading of Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham.” At the event, library staff member Barbara Somma, aka Ms. Barb, led children and their caregivers through a series of activities, including fingerplays, dances, and a Dr. Seuss themed craft. The classroom included creative play items for the children as well, including a puppet show theater, “grocery market,” books, legos, and more.

After the class, Trying Together had the opportunity to talk with Ms. Barb and two participating caregivers, Karen and Kim. Featured below are our questions and each interviewees’ responses.

Interviews

Barbara Somma, Class Teacher

Barbara Somma, or as the children call her, “Ms. Barb,” brightens the day of each child and caregiver who attends her classes. Having a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and a Master’s Degree in Special Education under her belt, Ms. Barb spent the last 10 years as a dedicated staff member at the Frank Sarris Public Library. If you stop by the Library, you can catch Ms. Barb leading Storytime, Little Picassos, Wiggles and Giggles, and the Summer Reading Camp! Odds are, she will have a crowd of young children giggling and following her happily!

  • What programming does Frank Sarris Library provide for young children and families?

The Frank Sarris Library offers a plethora of programming for children and families! Monday through Friday, we have activities geared towards preschool level children like storytime, yoga storytime, art, and a class called Wiggles and Giggles that is focused on body movement. During the month of July, we also offer a Summer Reading Camp for children in Kindergarten through fourth grade that includes creative themes like Fairytale Science, Mysical Beasts, and Magic School. They’re all meant to spark each child’s imagination. We offer services all throughout the year though, including books for readers of all ages, creative “Grable Kits,” several e-resources, and more.

  • How can caregivers make literacy experiences meaningful for their young children?

I think by just reading to your children all of the time. Read for 20 minutes a day, every day with your children. As a mother of two, I would always read a couple books with them right before bed. It’s also important to get a library card! They’re free and the library has tons of free resources for young children and families.

  • Why do you feel early childhood development is so important for young children?

Early childhood development is the basis for everything a child needs in life! Children learn from meaningful experiences and repetition. As adults, we need to make sure we are providing the time and patience for those experiences!

  • How do you see your role at the Frank Sarris Library supporting early childhood development in your community?

I think my role is really important here at the Frank Sarris Library. We serve many families and it’s important that we provide children with safe places to go. All of the staff here at the Library serve as role models within the community. However, our Library is an untapped resource. There are so many services that community members could benefit from if they stopped by.

Karen and Granddaughter Ellie

  • How did you like today’s event? What piqued your interest in attending?

Everything Ms. Barb does is truly amazing. I’ve been coming here for seven and a half years and I’ve brought all of my grandchildren. I was interested in attending because I wanted to make sure my grandchildren had social interactions with young children, and Ms. Barb allows the children to have these great social experiences! By coming here, my grandchildren have learned language concepts and vocabulary. Ms. Barb is so dynamic. She exudes engaging and creative energy in everything she does!

  • What’s your favorite book to read to your child? Why?

Ellie doesn’t have a favorite book, she really just loves to read! She is very into the alphabet right now!

Kim and Grandson

  • How did you like today’s event? What piqued your interest in attending?

Ms. Barb is great! Attending this program is the best thing I have done with my grandson! We heard about the children’s programs here through word of mouth. We have been attending since he was about six months old. We love Ms. Barb’s music and freeze dancing!

  • What’s your favorite book to read to your child?

He loves reading Elmo and Mini Mouse right now!

More Information

This session was one of many free services that the Frank Sarris Public Library provides, with options available for learners of all ages. To learn more about their services, visit the Frank Sarris Public Library website! To learn more about the Washington County Focus Week, read our news post!