February 3, 2023

Apply for Discounted Public Transportation Fares

The Allegheny County Department of Human Services (DHS) is seeking Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients ages 18 through 64 to participate in a 12-month pilot program understand the impact of transportation affordability on low-income residents.

About the Allegheny County Discounted Fares Pilot Program

The goal of the Allegheny County Discounted Fares Pilot Program is to test new policies to help people connect with services and opportunities that will benefit themselves, their families, and their communities. This includes examining the effect of the reduced fares pilot on participants’ use of public transit, their access to jobs and services, and their socioeconomic well-being.

Since the pilot’s initial launch, the eligibility requirements for it have expanded. If you applied previously and were not eligible, you may be eligible now.

Applications are being accepted until 11:59 p.m. on February 12.

How does the pilot work?

Participation in the pilot is voluntary. Eligible participants will be randomly assigned to one of three groups, with an equal chance of being assigned to each group:

  1. Free fares: This group will receive unlimited free fares on all Pittsburgh Regional Transit (PRT) trips (bus, T, and incline) for 12 months
  2. 50% discount: This group will receive a ConnectCard (pre-loaded with $10) that reduces the cost of all PRT trips by half (50%) for 12 months
  3. No discount: This group will receive a ConnectCard pre-loaded with $10 but will not receive a fare discount through this pilot.

Participants will be asked to complete optional surveys about once every three months and will be compensated as a “thank you” for completing each survey.

Details about the pilot, eligibility, and how to apply are available on the Allegheny County Discounted Fares Pilot Program website.


February 1, 2023

OCDEL Seeks Families to Participate with the Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems Advisory Committee

The Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) is seeking pregnant individuals and caregivers of children birth to age five to participate with the Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems (ECCS) Advisory Committee.

Learn More

The ECCS team seeks diverse parents and caregivers who have experiences with many aspects of maternal and early childhood services in Pennsylvania. Participants will have the opportunities to ensure their family voice is heard, valued and influential in decision making at the state level, as well as share their experiences with using services such as child care, Early Intervention, home visiting, local libraries, health care visits, and more. Honorarium and child care reimbursement will be provided.

Selected family representatives will commit to a two-hour virtual quarterly meeting and a one-hour virtual prep meeting scheduled a few days prior to the quarterly meeting at the convenience of the family leaders on the Committee.

The 2023 ECCS Advisory Committee meeting dates are March 22, July 20, and October 19 from noon to 2 p.m.


Interested individuals can apply online. Applications are due by February 15, 2023.


February 2023 Staffing Crisis Survey

The Start Strong PA and Pre-K for PA campaigns are collecting information from child care program owners and directors, Pre-K Counts grantees and Head Start program directors via a brief five-minute survey on the on-going child care crisis.

February 2023 Staffing Survey

The campaigns will use survey results to demonstrate the need for increased child care funding in the 2023-2024 state budget proposal and to continue to demonstrate the need for increased wages to the General Assembly while they negotiate their priorities for the 2023-2024 state budget.

Directors and owners who complete the survey by Friday, February 10, 2023 will be entered into a drawing for a $100 gift card. Four gift cards will be awarded.

Take the survey.


January 31, 2023

Teach Plus to Host Virtual Focus Groups on ECE Recruitment and Retention

Teach Plus Pennsylvania wants to learn about compensation for Early Childhood Education (ECE) teachers, and strategies for recruitment and retention of high-quality educators in the state’s early learning environments.

Learn More

Virtual focus groups of current early childhood caregivers and educators in Pennsylvania will be held throughout February (outside of school hours) to inform an upcoming report and advocacy efforts. The first 100 participants will receive a $25 Amazon gift card.

Sign Up

Sign up at


January Recalls on Children’s Products

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

Learn More

Here is a list of January recalls collected from the 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.


January 30, 2023

2023-2024 Kindergarten Registration Information

Information is now available about Kindergarten registration in Southwest PA school districts for the 2023-2024 school year.

Kindergarten Registration and Transition

If your child is five, it’s time to register them for kindergarten.

View details about Kindergarten registration in the Pittsburgh Region and surrounding counties in the following documents:

For more information about helping your child make the move to Kindergarten, view the Kindergarten Transition: A Guide for Families and Top 10 Kindergarten Readiness Checklist resources.

About Hi5!

Hi5! is a kindergarten readiness and registration campaign coordinated by The United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania, the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, and Trying Together.

Early and on-time registration allows schools and districts to plan for classroom materials, resources, and staff as they prepare to welcome a new group of students. It also enables families to establish relationships with teachers and administrators that are so important for easing the stress and anxiety of children (and their families) as they begin elementary school.

For more information about the Hi5! project, transition teams, and activities, please email, or view the Hi5! overview (PDF) and the Kindergarten Transition Whitepaper (PDF).


New Positive Racial Identity Development Resource Available

Trying Together has released a new resource about positive racial identity development through its Parenting Together Pathway video series.


In the new video, “Parenting for Positive Racial Identity Development,” Dr. Denisha Jones provides an overview for families about racial identity development, why it matters, and how caregivers can support positive racial identity development in young children of color and young white children.

Dr. Jones is the Executive Director of Defending the Early Years, a non-profit organization working for a just, equitable, and quality early childhood education for every young child. An education justice advocate and activist, Dr. Jones is a former kindergarten teacher and preschool director who spent the past 19 years in teacher education.

The Parenting Together Pathway is a video-based learning series to provide high-quality information on early childhood development to parents and caregivers in Allegheny County and surrounding areas. Launched in April 2021, the Parenting Together Pathway provides families the opportunity to learn more about: brain development; play; interactions and relationships; technology; child care; advocacy; early intervention; and safety to better support their children’s healthy growth.


Please visit the Trying Together website to view all video content for the Parenting Together Pathway.


January 26, 2023

Western Allegheny Community Library Eliminates Library Fines

Western Allegheny Community Library (WACL) in Oakdale is no longer charging late fees on borrowed library materials. It joins 30 other Allegheny County libraries, which previously made the move to a fine-free model.

This model retains due dates and continues to require the return of materials, but removes barriers to library services.

Learn More

With the transition to the fine-free model, materials owned by, checked out from, or returned to the Western Allegheny Community Library no longer accrue late fees. This includes WACL materials returned to and checked out from different Pittsburgh libraries. Additionally, existing late fines for all WACL account holders have been eliminated, though replacement charges for lost, damaged, or never returned items remain in effect. Books overdue by more than 60 days are considered lost and accrue a lost fee. More details are available on the Western Allegheny Community Library website.

WACL primarily serves North Fayette, Findlay and Oakdale, but fine-free libraries can be found throughout the Pittsburgh region. All 19 branches of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh are also fine free.





January 23, 2023

PPC Annual Health Care Report Released

Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children (PPC) has released its annual health care report, “State of Children’s Health.”

The 2022 report shows a slight improvement in the child uninsured rate, increasing from 4.4% to 4.6% during the COVID-19 pandemic.  This increase is a result of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act’s continuous coverage provision that prevents states from disenrolling children and families from Medicaid during the public health emergency.


PPC analyzed the most recent Census data to determine the role of Medicaid and other public health insurance programs in providing children and families with comprehensive health coverage and uninterrupted care during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Summary of Findings

State Findings

  • Pennsylvania has the eighth highest number of uninsured children in the nation. Pennsylvania’s uninsured rate remains lower than
    the national average of 5.4%. However, all neighboring states, other than Ohio, have better rates than Pennsylvania.
  • The rate of Pennsylvania children without health insurance decreased slightly between 2019 and 2021, from 4.6% to 4.4%. An important reason for these slight gains is the disenrollment freeze in Medicaid that has been in place during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
  • The uninsured rates improved in 38 counties and worsened in 29 counties over the last two years. The counties with the most significant improvement in lowering uninsured rates were Carbon, Dauphin, Monroe, Westmoreland, and Wyoming. The counties with significantly worse rates than two years ago were Erie, Clinton, Fayette, Franklin, and Somerset.
  • During the COVID-19 pandemic, Medicaid enrollment increased by 20%. More than 1.4 million Pennsylvania children currently have Medicaid for their health insurance.
  • Publicly funded or supported healthcare options account for providing health insurance to 47% of children in Pennsylvania, up from 46% last year. About two-thirds of children in Pennsylvania live in families that qualify for free or reduced public health insurance or financial assistance through Pennie™.

Disproportionality in Coverage

  • Not all children have experienced equal access to health insurance over the last two years. Hispanic or Latino children,
    children who identified as Some Other Race, and children who identified as Two or More Races have worse insurance rates now than in 2019. American Indian and Alaska Native, Asian, Black, and White children have better rates. The uninsured rate for Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander children remained unchanged.
  • In Pennsylvania, Hispanic or Latino children and children who identified as Some Other Race had a disproportionately higher uninsured rate in 2021 than their rate in the general population. American Indian and Alaska Native, Asian, Black, and White children were not disproportionately uninsured compared to the general population.
  • Children living in families with lower incomes are more likely to go without health insurance and 6.5% of children living in Pennsylvania who are financially eligible for Medicaid are uninsured.

PPC Recommendations

  • Reaffirm commitment to using a 12-month unwinding period, as recommended by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid.
  • Immediately expand the 12-month continuous eligibility policy to children ages 4 through 21 in Medicaid when the public health emergency ends.

Learn More

To learn more, read the full report.


January 20, 2023

Nominations Open for 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.

Learn More

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 packet is available at the PHSA website. All applications must be received by 3 p.m. on Thursday, March 2, 2023.