News

May 25, 2022

Resources for Families Amid Infant Formula Shortage

The Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) and UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh have provided information regarding the baby formula shortage and guidelines for families who need to find alternatives.

About

Supply chain disruptions and a major recall of Similac, Alimentum, and EleCare powdered infant formula due to Cronobacter and Salmonella bacteria have resulted in the shortage of formula for families who need it to feed their infants.

Appropriate nutrition is important for babies younger than age one, as they need the correct balance of nutrients to maintain their rapid growth and development. Breast milk contains these; formulas are specially designed to best mimic this and meet the needs.

Families can review the following to become more informed about this shortage:

News

ELRC Region 5 Offering Pediatric First Aid and CPR Trainings

The Early Learning Resource Center (ELRC) Region 5 is offering several Pediatric CPR and Pediatric First Aid training sessions in May and June 2022 to assist Allegheny County child care providers with recent changes to training requirements.

Training Requirements

Pediatric First Aid and Pediatric CPR is a required health and safety training topic that must be completed before a child care staff can care for children unsupervised. The Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) Bureau of Certification Announcement C 22-01 requires staff to complete professional development in Pediatric First Aid and Pediatric CPR within 90 days of hire and renew their certification in Pediatric First Aid and CPR on/or before the expiration of the most current. In addition, effective April 29, 2022, the Pediatric First Aid and Pediatric CPR training must be conducted by an approved Pennsylvania Quality Assurance System (PQAS) Instructor using an OCDEL-recognized curriculum.

Details are available on Appendix A – Health and Safety Training Certification Requirements: FAQs and OCDEL Guidance Chart.

Session Details

ELRC Region 5 will offer trainings with approved PQAS Instructors and OCDEL-recognized curriculums at no cost to educators who meet the following requirements:

  • Currently working in a DHS Regulated Child Care setting in Allegheny County.

  • Have a valid CPR/First Aid Certificate from a training that was not conducted by a PQAS certified instructor and/or the curriculum used was not OCDEL approved.

  • Are not considered new hires.

A list of available sessions is on the ELRC Region 5 website and will be updated regularly.

 

News

May 23, 2022

Millie’s Sweet Reads Program

Readers of all ages can earn free ice cream this summer! Millie’s Homemade Ice Cream, the Allegheny County Library Association (ACLA), and White Whale Bookstore are partnering to offer the 2022 Millie’s Sweet Reads Program.

About the Reading Program

The reading program is open to people of all ages and readers can earn a free scoop of ice cream.

Participants must obtain a bookmark at any Millie’s location, White Whale Bookstore in Bloomfield, select libraries across Allegheny County, or online; read five books; and have a librarian validate their bookmark before taking it to Millie’s for their free scoop. The bookmark also doubles as a 10% off coupon at White Whale Bookstore.

Bookmarks can be redeemed through Labor Day, Monday, September 5, 2022, when the program expires.

For more information, visit the Millie’s Homemade Ice Cream website.

News

2022 Keystone STARS Performance Standards

The Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) has released the 2022 Keystone STARS Performance Standards, which will go into effect on July 1, 2022.

2022 Keystone Stars Performance Standards

The most recent version of the Keystone STARS Performance Standards and Program Manual became effective August 1, 2020. Since that time, several events and updates have taken place which has necessitated an updated version of the Keystone STARS Performance Standards to be released, along with an updated Keystone STARS Program Manual. The 2022 Keystone STARS Program Manual is coming soon.

The updated Keystone STARS Performance Standards will become effective July 1, 2022. Programs who began submitting evidence to their Quality Coach to renew their current STAR level or move up in STAR levels using the 2020 Keystone STARS Performance Standards prior to July 1, 2022, must complete their designation by July 31, 2022.

After July 31, 2022, all programs, including those that began but did not complete the designation process will be required to use the 2022 Performance Standards for designation purposes moving forward.

Details

Detailed information about the new standards and program manual can be found in OCDEL’s full announcement and in the following documents:

A provider-facing recorded webinar that offers an overview of the updated 2022 Keystone STARS Performance Standards will be available soon.

News

PDE Building Equity-Inclusion-Belonging in the Neighborhood Roadmap

The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) is creating a strategic roadmap for embedding equity, inclusion, and belonging into educators’ everyday work — and child care providers have the opportunity to share their efforts.

(This article was updated on May 23 to reflect a new deadline and rubric information).

About

The PDE is inviting early childhood education (ECE) programs to consider submitting a promising practice describing an innovative way they are creating spaces for Equity-Inclusion-Belonging (EIB) and/or embedding EIB into their ECE program.

Educators can submit their practices online. The PDE team will review the submissions via a rubric and will accept as many practices as possible. Submission deadline is Friday, June 3, 2022.

The PDE has created a resource with definitions of equity, inclusion and belonging to support EIB efforts.

News

May 18, 2022

Work Force Support Grants Being Offered Through Early Learning Resource Centers

To assist DHS-certified child care providers in addressing the ongoing workforce crisis, Work Force Support Grants are now available.

Learn More

The Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) is offering Work Force Support Grants to Department of Human Services’ (DHS) certified child care providers using American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Stabilization and Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA) funds. The funds in these grants are being made available to assist providers with current staffing shortages.

ARPA eligible providers will be funded through $27.9 million of uncommitted ARPA Stabilization Grant funds and $70 million of ARPA Stabilization administrative set-aside funds. DHS-certified care providers who are identified as not ARPA eligible will be funded through CRRSA funds. These funds will be distributed through the Early Learning Resource Centers (ELRC).

Eligibility

Funds through the Work Force Support Grants are being provided to support the work of ongoing staff in centers, as well as assisting providers with staff recruitment.

All criteria outlined below must be met at the time the application is submitted for a DHS-certified child care provider to be eligible:

  • Held a regular or provisional Certificate of Compliance on or before May 16, 2022;

  • Be open and actively providing child care to one or more child(ren) in attendance at the provider location;

  • Hold a Certificate of Compliance that is not in a Revocation or Refuse to Renew status with OCDEL Bureau of Certification Services;

  • Not be under investigation by the Office of State Inspector General for, or previously convicted of fraud; and

  • Not had their Child Care Works (CCW) provider agreement revoked due to fraud.

Applications for the Work Force Support Grants are now open and will be accepted through June 17, 2022. 

Attached are both the Application in English (PDF) and the Application in Spanish (PDF). Please email your completed application to grants.elrc5@alleghenycounty.us; drop it off or mail it to 304 Wood Street Commons, Suite 400 Pittsburgh, PA 15222; or fax it to 412.350.3575.

News

May 16, 2022

Social Emotional Learning Supports

The Early Learning Resource Center (ELRC) Region 5 is gathering information about ways to best support early learning programs in meeting social and emotional learning needs for children.

Learn More

The ELRC Region 5 is working on a Social Emotional Learning Support Group that would provide Early Childhood Education (ECE) professionals with resources and assistance for children who might be experiencing delays in their social emotional skills.

Social emotional learning is the process through which all people acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions, achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions.

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted child care programs and children in the way of staff turnover, quick shifts in routines, extended closures, and more — all of which can impact the social-emotional development in children.

ELRC Region 5 invites providers to take a survey to communicate ways in which the ELRC Region 5 can assist — whether it be through on-site technical assistance, professional development, resource materials, or other.

Take the survey.

News

MOMPGH Free Dental Clinic to Be Held in August

The 2022 Mission of Mercy Free Dental Clinic will be held August 5-6, 2022, at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

About the Free Dental Clinic

Mission of Mercy Pittsburgh (MOMPGH) is a free, two-day dental clinic for the underserved members of the community who are uninsured or don’t have access to affordable dental care.

This year, the clinic also will offer eye and hearing exams. All services are provided free of charge by local dental professionals, assisted by a strong support team of volunteers.

Services and treatments include full dental exams, cleanings, minor restorative fillings, extractions, root canal treatments on select teeth, oral hygiene instruction, and a limited number of temporary partial dental appliances. Full dentures, root canals on molars, crowns, extractions of unexposed wisdom teeth, orthodontics/braces, implants, and impactions are not included.

Due to limited supplies, time and volunteers, we are limited to one treatment per each individual.

More Information

For details about the MOMPGH free dental clinic or to sign up to volunteer, visit mompgh.org.

News

May 13, 2022

UPDATED: Streamlined Keystone STARS Designation System to Launch July 1

The Keystone STARS designation system will be live in the PA PD Registry beginning July 1, 2022.

The new designation system will feature the updated 2022 Keystone STARS Performance Standards. As such, all designations initiated after July 1, 2022, will use the 2022 Keystone STARS Performance Standards and the new Streamlined Keystone STARS Designation System.

(This page was updated on May 13, 2022 to reflect new information from OCDEL).

About

The new designation system in the PA PD Registry is replacing SMART Designation Software, the Keystone STARS Document Uploader, and portions of Provider Self Service (PSS).

The new system features a Document Vault that will replace the current STARS Document Uploader, which will no longer be available after May 31, 2022. Providers can begin using the Document Vault feature, which is currently live in the PA PD Registry.

Programs currently using the Document Uploader to complete a designation must ensure that all evidence is uploaded by May 31, 2022. From June 1, 2022 through June 30, 2022, there will be a black out period for any new Request for Keystone STAR Designations (RFSD) to be completed. During this time, programs will be unable to complete any new RFSDs either via Provider Self Service (PSS) from the Keystone STARS home page or via a paper RFSD.

Details

For complete details about the new designation system, read the Office of Child Development and Early Learning’s full announcement (UPDATED).

Programs who require help in uploading documents to their Document Vault and/or attaching documents to quality indicators should reach out to the ELRC Region 5 at elrc5@alleghenycounty.us or the PD Registry team at registry@pakeys.org.

Information about demonstrations and trainings , video tutorials, and tip sheets on the Keystone STARS Designation system will be housed on the PA Keys website.

News

May 12, 2022

DHS to Offer P-EBT Benefits for 2021-22 School Year

The Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) helps families cover the cost of breakfasts and lunches their children would have been eligible to receive for free or at reduced price through the National School Lunch Program funding for meals missed while being out of school during the pandemic. The money on these cards can be used for food only.

Once believed to be a short-term program, P-EBT has now transformed into a longer-term federal response to the national public health crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic.

About P-EBT Benefits

In April 2022, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture approved Pennsylvania’s plan to provide P-EBT benefits to students for the 2021-22 school year.

Beginning in mid to late June, eligible students will receive P-EBT benefits in several 10-day periods:

  • the first stage will provide benefits for eligible students for the months of September 2021 through November 2021

  • the second stage will provide benefits for eligible students for the months of December 2021-February 2022

  • the third stage will provide benefits for eligible students for the months of March through May 2022

  • the final stage will provide benefits for eligible students for the months of June through August of 2022

The amount of benefits received for each child for each stage will vary based on the individual student’s circumstances.

Benefits will be issued on existing EBT or P-EBT cards. Anyone who has not received P-EBT previously will get a card in the mail for each eligible child. The return address on the card’s envelope will be from Texas.

Eligibility

Children qualify for P-EBT if they receive meals through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and missed those meals because they were absent from the classroom due to COVID-19.

Children are eligible for NSLP if they have an approved free or reduced-price status from a household application, are directly certified by receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), or certain Medical Assistance benefits through the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS), or are enrolled in a Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) school. The PA Department of Human Services will work with schools to get the necessary information to determine which students are eligible.

For more details, visit the PA Department of Human Services website.