October 18, 2019

ACF Seeks Input On Improving Quality Child Care Access

On October 2, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) posted a Request for Information (RFI) on improving access to affordable, high-quality child care in the United States.


ACF is focused on finding innovative solutions to improve working families’ access to affordable, high quality child care, as well as investigating how access to child care affects America’s workforce, present, and future. Child care is one of the biggest expenses a family faces and can be a barrier to work. The average cost of center-based infant child care in 28 states is more than college tuition.

At the same time, there is concern about the quality of child care and ensuring that child care settings are a place of education that promote and enhance child and youth development and well-being. High-quality child care is a critical investment that pays off now, for parents by enabling them to work, and later, by supporting children’s development and success in school and life. This request for information seeks public comment on innovative ways to address the affordability and access crisis of child care in the U.S., without compromising on quality.

Information collected through this RFI may be used by ACF in the development of future rulemaking and technical assistance, the formation of legislative proposals and research agenda, and/or strategic planning. To learn more, visit the RFI page.

Intended Audience and Stakeholders

AFI is looking to receive input from a wide range of stakeholders, including, but not limited to, parents who use child care; parents of children with disabilities; small child care businesses; employers; state and local chambers of commerce; foundations; faith-based and other community organizations; family child care networks; child care resource and referral agencies; universities and other institutions of higher education; child care workforce development organizations, etc.

RFI Topics

    • Building Supply of Child Care
    • Improving Child Care Regulations
    • Cultivating the Child Care Workforce
    • Developing Better Child Care Business Models
    • Transforming Financing of Child Care and Early Education Programs

Submit Your Comment

To submit a comment, visit the RFI page. All comments must be submitted by December 2, 2019.

*Information provided by the Administration of Children and Families


October 17, 2019

SharedSource Pennsylvania Launches Revamped Website

In October 2019, SharedSource Pennsylvania launched its revamped website, featuring a new layout and at least 74 new resources!


SharedSource Pennsylvania is “a partnership of Pennsylvania Association for the Education of Young Children (PennAEYC), Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children (DVAEYC), Trying Together, and Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC). The alliance promotes shared learning, efficient use of resources and quality improvement in ECE programs across the Commonwealth.”

New Resources

During the launch, SharedSource Pennsylvania highlighted a list of some of its newest resources. With 30 available in Spanish, the resources cover topics including:

    • admin tools;
    • family handbooks;
    • budget planning and preparation;
    • understanding, building, and using business credit;
    • budget tools,
    • marketing your program,
    • family tours,
    • and phone best practices.

Visit the website to see the full list.

More Information

To learn more about SharedSource Pennsylvania, visit their website.


October 11, 2019

Trying Together Launches Grandparent Council

Join early childhood nonprofit Trying Together and become a member of the Grandparent Council!


The Grandparent Council works to ensure all young children receive high-quality care and education. Meeting monthly at varying locations, grandparents:

    • learn more about the importance of an early childhood education,
    • receive guidance and support in identifying high-quality early learning environments,
    • and learn how to advocate for the well-being of all children in our communities.

Meetings will include a conference call option. Visit the Grandparent Council page for more information.

Join the Council

To sign-on and learn more, interested grandparents can:

More Information

For questions, contact Lindsey Ramsey at 412.567.4173 or

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October 10, 2019

Support Pittsburgh Nonprofits by #GivingTogether

Trying Together is excited to announce our participation in this year’s Give Big Pittsburgh event!

What is Give Big Pittsburgh?

Give Big Pittsburgh is an annual day-of-giving hosted by the Pittsburgh Magazine. With this year’s event happening on December 3, Give Big Pittsburgh is a great opportunity for stakeholders and community members to collaboratively raise funds for and learn more about nonprofits working in the Pittsburgh area. Fundraising on the website will remain open until December 31 at 11:59 p.m.

Why Should You Participate?

Because Give Big Pittsburgh uses an online platform, the donation process for #GivingTuesday is quick and simple. Simply add nonprofits and individual donation values to your “Gift Basket” to complete all of your donations in one go. Donors can access their donation receipts online, making it easy to track and report your tax-deductible donations.

Visit the website to get acquainted with the platform and add nonprofits to your basket.

How You Can Participate:

While Give Big Pittsburgh places a focus on raising funds for nonprofits, there are multiple ways to give this #Giving Tuesday:

Donating to Nonprofits

One of the primary ways to participate in #GivingTuesday is to do just that, give. Outside of a small platform fee, all of the money that is donated will go directly to the nonprofit.

Sharing Your Story

Trying Together believes that every person has a place in #GivingTuesday, and with that, we want to ensure that we’re fostering community and relationships during the experience. Because we are an early childhood nonprofit, Trying Together encourages community members to #GiveThanks to an early childhood educator or professional who impacted your life in a positive way. Use #GiveThanks or #GivingTogether on social media to share your story with others as well.

Everyone has a place in #GivingTuesday, and with that, it's important to foster community and relationships during the experience. Sharing kindness, a story, a financial donation. There are plenty of ways to give. #GiveBigPittsburgh #GivingTogetherClick To Tweet

Sharing Nonprofit Donation Pages

On the Give Big Pittsburgh website, there is an arrow button to share a fundraising page link with your network. Another way to give would simply be sharing this opportunity with others. We encourage individuals to interact with us and our pages, whether that’s through sharing our posts or contributing yourself!

Learning More

Although not every Pittsburgh nonprofit will be present, Give Big Pittsburgh is a great opportunity to learn more about local nonprofits and their work in Pittsburgh communities. Visit the website to start exploring.

Save the Date

Give Big Pittsburgh
Tuesday, December 3, 2019
12:00 a.m. – 11:59 p.m.

More Information

For questions regarding participation, donation matching, or access, please contact Vanessa Thompson at 412.567.1301 or


October 8, 2019

Pennsylvania Announces 2019 Market Rate Survey

The Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) invites all Pennsylvania certified child care providers to participate in the 2019 Market Rate Survey.


Every three years, states conduct a Market Rate Survey (MRS) to update information regarding the prices child care providers charge families. With the last official MRS conducted in 2016, OCDEL invites all certified child care providers in Pennsylvania to submit their pricing information. By providing this information, child care providers help OCDEL paint a more accurate picture of child care prices in Pennsylvania and will provide an important database to compare private pay prices with the Child Care Works reimbursement base rates.

How to Participate

The survey is available online from October 7 through December 30, 2019 within the PELICAN Provider Self-Service Portal. Participation will require a username and password to enter. For assistance on enrolling in Provider Self-Service or updating your child care prices if you do not have access to Provider Self-Service, contact your local Early Learning Resource Center (ELRC).

Information from all child care providers is important, even if your private pay prices have not changed. If your prices remained the same, please update the “effective date” within the Provider Self-Service Portal. Any changes made between October 7 and December 30, 2019 will be included.

Click here for instructions on how to complete the Survey using Provider Self-Service.

Learn More

To learn more, view the full announcement or contact your local ELRC.

*Information provided by OCDEL


October 7, 2019

Raising Readers Tweens & Teens Meet Author Jewell Parker Rhodes

This October, tweens and teens from Trying Together’s Raising Readers Together Club got a chance to meet “Ghost Boys” author, Jewell Parker Rhodes.


In the Spring of 2019, tweens and teens in Trying Together’s Raising Readers Club read “Ghost Boys,” a heartbreaking story about a twelve-year-old boy named Jerome. Weaving historical and socio-political elements into the story, the novel explores “the complexities of today’s world and how one boy grows to understand American blackness in the aftermath of his own death.”

Pittsburgh-native Jewell Parker Rhodes met with our Raising Readers tweens and teens early this month to autograph their books and answer questions about writing techniques. Running weekly, the Raising Readers Together Club explores the importance of acceptance, equality, and tolerance through reading.

About the Author

After entering college as a dance major, Jewell Parker Rhodes discovered that there were novels written by African Americans, for African Americans, and from there, her writing career took flight. After publishing six novels for adults, two writing guides, and a memoir, Jewell continued on to publish five children’s books, including the New York Times bestseller and #1 Kids’ Indie Next Pick “Ghost Boys.” When she’s not writing, Jewell regularly visits schools to talk about her books with children and teaches writing at Arizona State University.

More Information

To learn more about Jewell Parker Rhodes, visit her website.

For more information on the Raising Readers Together Club, contact Cynthia Battle at 412.567.1304 or


October 4, 2019

Study Opportunity: Parents Promoting Early Learning

Parents of four-year-old children are invited to participate in a new University of Pittsburgh study named, “Parents Promoting Early Learning (PPEL).”


Parents Promoting Early Learning studies how parents and their four-year-old children interact and how such interactions help prepare the child for school. Study participants will be compensated and must complete:

    • two visits, hosted at the participant’s home or at a University of Pittsburgh office, where the parent and child complete games and assessments,
    • questionnaires and interviews about the child’s development and activities,
    • and a one-year follow-up visit for more games and assessments.


    • Child is age four (or almost four)
    • Parent must participate
    • Both parent and child identify as either African American or White
    • Both parent and child are fluent in English
    • Child has never been diagnosed with a disability

More Information

To sign up or for more information, contact the researchers at 412.204.6845 or

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Changes to Fire Safety Inspections & Standards for Child Care Facilities

Following the fire at a child care facility that claimed the lives of five children, Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller announced efforts to enhance fire safety at all Pennsylvania child care facilities and strengthen DHS’s regulatory authority and further protect children.

Updated Standards

Effective Sept. 16, 2019, the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) requires its licensing staff to include fire safety checks in every initial inspection, renewal inspection, unannounced inspection, and complaint inspection. Licensing staff will require each facility operator to demonstrate an operable fire detection and prevention system, which includes the presence of operable smoke detectors on each floor of the facility and fire extinguishers in the kitchen or other cooking areas at minimum.

If an operator is unable to demonstrate such a system, DHS licensing staff will complete a complaint and deliver it to the Department of Labor & Industry or local officials. These officials have the authority to act against the facility. DHS also recommends that licensed child care facilities work with their local fire safety officials to meet compliance with fire safety codes. DHS will also cite the provider for a health and safety violation. These changes will also be codified in DHS’ child care regulations moving forward.

In September, DHS conducted a fire safety initiative call campaign to collect information from family child care providers and alert them to the department’s fire prevention efforts. This campaign surveyed family child care providers about their fire prevention systems and emergency plans, including evacuation plans for children in overnight care. DHS will use the information gathered to inform ongoing efforts to enhance fire safety at Pennsylvania child care facilities.

More Information

For more information, read the full PA Key newsletter.

To learn more about child care in Pennsylvania and view inspection history for licensed providers, visit the COMPASS website.

*Information provided via The Pennsylvania Key


October 2, 2019

Governor Wolf Releases Report on Infant Toddler Support

Governor Tom Wolf released a report detailing seven Ready to Start Task Force priorities that were developed to better support the long-term success of infants, toddlers, and families in Pennsylvania.

Ready to Start Task Force

The Governor’s Ready to Start Task Force was created in September 2018 to “develop a framework of strategies to address health, human services, and education policy for infants and toddlers ages birth to three in Pennsylvania.” Led by six Governor-appointed co-chairs, the Task Force facilitated “six regional roundtable listening sessions with members of the Administration and approximately 150 stakeholders who represent early care and education providers, health care practitioners, research organizations, workforce development, state and local government, foundations, employers, postsecondary educators, and community-based organizations.”

At these sessions, stakeholders responded to three key questions on family and child health, home environments, and future school success. The Governor also provided an online feedback form to receive ideas and thoughts from the community. Through these methods, the Task Force identified a list of key themes and findings, from which the four-year framework report was created.


Governor’s Ready to Start Task Force: A Four-Year Framework to Support Pennsylvania’s Infants and Toddlers” lists seven key priorities, all of which include specific goals that guide Pennsylvania “to a stronger future for the Commonwealth’s infants, toddlers, and their families.”

    • Increase the Availability of High-Quality Child Care and Home Visiting Service Slots
    • Improve Early Intervention Quality and Streamlining to Enhance Availablity, Alignment, Integration, and Coordination of Services
    • Increase Recruitment, Retention, Development, Support, and Training of Early Childhood Education Professionals
    • Better Utilize Medicaid, CHIP, and State Regulatory Powers to Address the Risks to Infants and Toddlers Posed by Harmful Environmental Contaminants
    • Promote Education, Engagement, and Support of Parents and Families as Children’s First Teachers
    • Improve Information, Outreach, and Access to Services
    • Promote Sustainable Systems of Care to Support the Health and Wellbeing of All Children and Women of Child-Bearing Age

Next Steps

Moving forward, Governor Wolf will “establish a cross-sector ‘Ready to Start’ Workgroup comprised of agency and external stakeholders that will be responsible for establishing measurable goals and ensuring progress on the framework priorities and recommendations.” Meeting monthly, the Workgroup will engage with other state groups in fields that intersect with the priorities.

Learn More

To learn more, read the full report.

*Information provided by the Office of Governor Tom Wolf


September 27, 2019

Kindergarten Transition Strategies Highlighted in New Briefs


New America reported that in the 2019-20 school year, “approximately four million children will start kindergarten.” This period of early learning is critical, as research shows that access to high-quality early education increases children’s likelihood of going to college, saving for retirement, and living in wealthier neighborhoods.

Recognizing the need for better support, New America released two briefs highlighting opportunities for states, local education agencies (LEAs), and elementary schools to strengthen pre-k to kindergarten transitions and fund transition activities.

Moving into Kindergarten

Their first brief, Moving into Kindergarten: How Schools and Districts are Connecting the Steps for Children and Families, highlights actions that schools and districts can take to help ensure a smooth and stress-free transition into kindergarten for children and their caregivers. The highlighted approaches are currently taking place in districts across the country, with a range of models included to ensure an appropriate method based on a district’s current state of development.

Highlighted methods include:

    • increased data sharing between child care, pre-k programs, and kindergarten
    • professional development and planning across grades (more specifically, formal activities that bring adults together across childcare, pre-k, and kindergarten)
    • a focus on family engagement that emphasizes the importance of involvement in education, extends beyond a one-time activity and takes place prior to the start of kindergarten
    • activities for incoming kindergarten students that go beyond one-time events (such as a classroom visit) and prioritize students without access to pre-k

To read the full brief, visit the New America website.

Using Local, State, and Federal Dollars to Improve Pre-K to Kindergarten Transitions

New America’s second brief, Using Local, State, and Federal Dollars to Improve Pre-K to K Transitions, highlights the importance of a seamless transition between early learning programs and grade levels as well as effective policies and practices. With this, New American mentions that “there are a number of federal and state programs and other funding opportunities that can help support state and local efforts to improve pre-k to kindergarten transitions and alignment.”

Serving as a resource for state and local leaders, the brief examines:

    • Child Care & Development Block Grant (CCDBG)
    • Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)
    • Head Start Act
    • Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV)
    • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
    • Preschool Development Grant, Birth through Five (PDG B-5)
    • Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC)
    • Other Sources

Following this, the brief provides action recommendations for states, local education agencies, and elementary schools. Visit the New America website to learn more.

Local Initiatives

Are you interested in learning about the local pre-k and kindergarten landscape? Check out these initiatives:

    • Hi5 ensures that young children are school ready and promotes the importance of on-time kindergarten registration. Over the past seven years, this program has helped Allegheny County schools reach an impressive on-time kindergarten registration rate of 96 percent. To learn more, visit the Hi5 webpage.

Learn More

For more information, contact New America at 202.986.2700 or

*Information provided by New America