July 25, 2022

Resources for Impacts to Medicare and CHIP

Now that the public health emergency surrounding COVID-19 has expired, states will require eligibility renewals for most receiving Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for the first time since March 2020.

Given that significant time may have elapsed since families were last required to renew, the Assistant Secretary for Children and Families issued a Dear Colleague letter in May explaining what the eligibility renewal means for Medicaid and CHIP enrollment and how to help families in danger of losing health care coverage. This situation impacts both families and child care providers and requires each group to take specific and targeted steps in order to prevent the loss of benefits.


In order to assist families during the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a Public Health Emergency declaration (PHE), which offered flexibility and additional resources for families struggling during the pandemic. Since the PHE has expired this month, the flexibilities and waivers surrounding it have also dissipated, the most pressing of which requires the need to renew Medicaid and CHIP benefits.

Impacts to Benefits

At the beginning of the pandemic, HHS took steps to prevent ineligible recipients of Medicare and CHIP from losing benefits. This sharply increased enrollment from 16 million beneficiaries to over 70 million. Now that these steps have expired with the PHE, families required to renew their benefits. Since renewals have not taken place since 2020, the most proactive step that families can take to prevent their loss of benefits are:

  • Updating their contact information with state Medicaid program or CHIP
  • Checking their mail for a renewal form while completing and submitting the form in a timely manner.

Assistance with these key messages is available in a Medicaid and CHIP Continuous Enrollment Unwinding — Toolkit in English (PDF) and a toolkit in Spanish (PDF).

Additionally, there are key steps that child care providers can take to share this information with their families:

  • Train all front-line staff and ensure they are knowledgeable on steps families can take to renew their health care coverage.
  • Share key information on Medicaid and CHIP renewal as part of their application intake or renewal process for other programs.
    • States may use information from other programs like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) to verify eligibility and facilitate renewals, though some actions will require a state plan amendment.
    • CMS encourages states to set a renewal schedule that spreads renewal volume over a full 12-month period and aligns renewal dates for individuals within households and with recertification timing for the SNAP and other human services programs.
  • Promote Medicaid and CHIP renewal on their websites, social media channels, and in physical offices. Medicaid Unwinding Toolkit graphics are available in English and Spanish.
  • Ensure that families know if they are no longer eligible for Medicaid and CHIP, they may be eligible for the Health Insurance Marketplace.  Direct them to or help them visit Visit disclaimer page, or call the Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596 (TTY: 1-855-889-4325) to get details about Marketplace coverage.


November 16, 2020

DHS Warns of Potential Pandemic EBT Benefit Scam

The Department of Human Services (DHS) is warning of a possible scam concerning Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) benefits and reminding Pennsylvanians to be skeptical of unsolicited or random calls or text messages about public-assistance programs – especially when the calls or text messages solicit personal information, such as Social Security numbers.


DHS is investigating a report of individuals receiving calls with pre-recorded messages advising them to expedite their P-EBT benefits issuance by providing their Social Security number and case record number. In the message, the speaker claims to be from a County Assistance Office (CAO).

DHS and other government agencies do not ask for information about P-EBT, SNAP, or any other public-assistance programs via unsolicited or random calls or texts, and Pennsylvanians should not reply to such a call or text or share any personal information if they are contacted in this way. If you or anyone you work with receive unsolicited or random calls or text messages telling you that you qualify for assistance and then asking for personal information, it is most likely a scam. Do not respond. Delete the message so you do not get caught in an identity theft scam.

Pennsylvanians who have questions about whether a call, text, letter, or other communication is legitimate should contact DHS’ Office of Income Maintenance. Clients in Philadelphia should call the Philadelphia Customer Service Center at 215.560.7226. Clients in all other counties can call the Statewide Customer Service Center at 1.877.395.8930.

Apply for Benefits

Applications for the SNAP and other public assistance programs can be submitted online at All Pennsylvanians experiencing financial hardships due to the pandemic, a lost job, or a change in income are strongly encouraged to apply and see if they qualify for assistance with food, health care, and other essential needs.

More Information

For more information, read the full press release. To learn about food assistance resources for people around Pennsylvania impacted by COVID-19 and the accompanying economic insecurity, visit the Department of Agriculture’s food security guide.

*Information provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services


October 21, 2020

Benefits of Having a PD Registry Profile

Do you have a Pennsylvania PD Registry profile? If not, you are missing out on features that could help you schedule professional development, request financial assistance, and more.

What is the PD Registry?

The Pennsylvania Professional Development (PD) Registry is an online system that functions as a “workforce registry” by tracking the professional accomplishments of registered individuals, providing important data about the early childhood workforce, and highlighting a consolidated list of available professional development opportunities.

Data collected through the PD Registry—including data such as length of time in the field, education level, and wages—is also used to advocate for better education opportunities and higher wages for professionals in Pennsylvania.


Early Learning and School-Age Professionals

Through the PD Registry, early learning and school-age professionals can:

    • track their employment, education, and training history;
    • complete a professional development self-assessment to plan upcoming training;
    • register for in-person and online professional training that offers PQAS and Act 48 credit;
    • begin an application for financial assistance if eligible;
    • keep track of CPR, First Aid, and Fire Safety expiration dates;
    • and more.
Program Directors

Through the PD Registry, Program Directors can:

    • track staff completion of Bureau of Certification and Keystone STARS training requirements;
    • access verified staff qualifications for meeting Certification and Keystone STARS requirements;
    • support staff with professional development planning; and
    • register staff members for training using the statewide training calendar.

Creating an Account

If you don’t have an account, visit the PD Registry website to create one. For assistance, view this step-by-step tip sheet on how to create an account or contact

More Information

Additional tip sheets and resources are available for new users, existing users, and program directors. For more information, view this document or visit the Pennsylvania Key website.


October 20, 2020

The Ins and Outs of the PD Registry

Want to use the PD Registry to maximize your professional growth? Join Trying Together on October 28 for our free virtual workshop, “Connections and Conversations: The Ins and Outs of the PD Registry.”


In this Connections and Conversations Virtual Check-In session, participants will engage in virtual discussions with an Early Learning Resource Center (ELRC) Region 5 Quality Coach and interact with early learning practitioners to share questions, experiences, and expertise about the Pennsylvania Professional Development (PD) Registry. This session will offer one hour of PQAS credit. Act 48 credit will not be provided.

Join us to learn how to use the PD Registry as an asset for individual growth and as a springboard for collaborative discussion on professionals development between practitioners and leadership. This course will overview the general use of navigating an individual account, as well as the benefits leadership members can utilize as an organization administrator.

Session Details

    • Session Date: Wednesday, October 28, 2020  |  6:00 – 7:00 p.m.
    • Instructor: Katie Streiff
    • Core Knowledge Area: Organization and Administration
    • CDA Content Area: Effective Program Operation
    • Registration Deadline: Tuesday, October 27, 2020


To register, visit the course PD Registry page. Space is limited. Participants will receive the course Zoom link via email within 24 hours before the start date for the course. PQAS and Act 48 credit available.

If you do not have a PD Registry account, please complete this online form to create one. If you are unable to create an account, please contact for more information.

Session Rules and Guidelines

These virtual discussions are designed to provide educators the opportunity to grow professionally and share knowledge on early childhood topics. During the meeting, participants should follow the guidelines below to ensure a successful virtual meeting for all participants.

    • Please allow all participants a chance to speak. Listen respectfully and actively.
    • Commit to learning about each other, not to debating the topic.
    • Embrace differences of opinion as healthy and support each person’s authentic self-expression.
    • Participants will be muted for the beginning portion of the session.
    • Participants may use the “Raise Hand” feature in Zoom to request an opportunity to comment or ask a question. Individuals will be temporarily unmuted by the moderator.
    • Participants may type a comment or question in the Chat or may send comments or questions directly to the moderator for them to share.
    • To receive PQAS credit, you must complete an evaluation at the end of the session and include your PD Registry number.
    • Have fun, make connections, and engage in the conversations!

More Information

For questions or more information, contact Jasmine Davis at


April 30, 2020

Mayor Peduto Calls for Online SNAP Purchasing Options

On April 28, Mayor William Peduto issued a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue in support of efforts to expand affordable SNAP purchasing options — including food delivery and online ordering — for vulnerable populations during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Mayor Peduto’s letter follows calls by U.S. Senator Bob Casey and others to expand the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which provides eligible low-income residents with an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) debit card to purchase food.

Currently, SNAP recipients cannot make any food purchases online. While other consumers can use online ordering and delivering to protect themselves and others from spreading the virus, these options are not available to low-income residents and families who are forced to make their purchases in person, increasing their likelihood of contracting COVID-19.

Senator Casey has been calling on the USDA to expand SNAP delivery options since March when stay-at-home guidelines were put into effect in Pennsylvania and across the United States of America. The Food Policy Council wants the USDA to allow SNAP recipients to purchase food for delivery and to allow other safe food purchasing options, such as allowing users to use their EBT cards for Instacart or online farmers market services.

What is SNAP?

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides nutrition benefits to supplement the food budget of low-income families so they can purchase healthy food. Eligible applicants receive an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) ACCESS Card to make food purchases. To check your eligibility or apply, please visit the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services website.

For questions about SNAP, call the Department of Human Services helpline at 1.800.692.7462 or your county assistance office. For individuals with hearing impairments, please call 1.800.451.5886.

More on SNAP Purchasing Options

To learn more, view the full press release or a copy of the letter to Secretary Perdue.

*Information provided by the City of Pittsburgh


April 27, 2020

Learning to Play, Playing to Learn: Encouraging Play Within Early Childhood Classrooms

“Play acts as a mechanism into courageous, creative, and rigorous thinking in adulthood.” (T. Bruce,., 2013)

The benefits of children’s play can be life-lasting, as long as the experiences are developmentally appropriate, positive, and engaging. This free online course focuses on children’s play and the role of play in early education settings. Participants will take part in varied individual and group activities that pertain to the definitions, developmental mechanics, and functions of play as well as new strategies for encouraging play within children’s earliest classrooms.

Course Information

    • Timeline: May 1 – 22, 2020
    • Trainers: Rachelle Duffy and Jasmine Davis
    • CKC: K2.14.C1
    • Keystone STARS Alignment: EC.3.4.1
    • CDA Subject Area: Advancing children’s physical and intellectual development.
    • Three PQAS and Act 48 hours available.


To register for this course, please visit the event registration page. All registrations must be submitted by April 29 at 5 p.m. Limited spaces are available.

More Information

For more information, contact Jasmine Davis at 412.567.3933 or

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August 2, 2019

PA DHS Announces KinConnector Helpline

On August 1, Pennsylvania Department of Human Services’ (PA DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller and Aging Secretary Robert Torres announced a helpline for families in kinship care situations, including grandparents raising their grandchildren because of the opioid crisis.


The KinConnector helpline was created by Act 89 of 2018, which established a kinship navigator program for Pennsylvania. KinConnector will act as a bridge that helps families identify resources, including gaining access to local, state, and federal resources. The KinConnector helpline is staffed by Kinship Navigators–compassionate, knowledgeable social service professionals prepared to help families locate, understand, and access resources that may be able to help them. This helpline, however, is just the beginning. A website of resources is set to launch in late 2019.

KinConnector Helpline

KinConnector can be reached by calling 1.866.KIN.2111 (1.866.546.2111). Assistance is available Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Examples of provided services include:

    • connecting caregivers to health, financial, and legal services,
    • connecting caregivers to training and parenting advice,
    • identifying local physical or behavioral services,
    • identifying support groups,
    • helping caregivers enroll a child in school,
    • helping caregivers apply for federal, state, and local benefits such as CHIP and Social Security,
    • and other services designed to support caregivers.

Why Kinship Matters

Kinship care is becoming more common in Pennsylvania, with grandparents, aunts, uncles, or siblings often stepping in to fill the role of parents who are seeking treatment or, in the most tragic cases, have died from the disease of addiction. Kinship care guardians often make a selfless choice to care for a young relative and ensure they receive care and support from a family member they know and trust, even when processing their own emotions around their family’s situation.

Children being cared for by relatives are less likely to end up in foster care and will experience better outcomes when they are living with a relative or someone they know. KinConnector will help ease the burden on these families and give them the tools and resources they need to be successful.

More Information

For more information on resources available for kinship families and grandparents raising grandchildren, visit

Information provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services


July 15, 2019

Cliff Effect Public Service Announcement Seeks Focus Group

Circles Greater Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh’s Office of Child Development are seeking individuals who are willing to be interviewed and recorded for a Public Service Announcement that will raise awareness on the Cliff Effect. Participants selected will be compensated.


The Cliff Effect impacts individuals who are:

    • working, but still eligible for certain subsidies such as Section 8 or public housing, Child Care Assistance, Medicaid, Food Stamps, and more
    • at risk of losing benefits because of an increase in income
    • faced with choosing between a raise/increased income or receiving benefits

Available Sessions

There are two available session dates:

    • Thursday, July 18, 6 – 8 p.m.
      Carnegie Library East Liberty | 130 S. Whitfield Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15206
    • Saturday, July 20, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
      Gallery on Penn | 5937 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15206


To register for the Cliff Effect groups, complete this form.

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April 22, 2019

Foundations Urged to Unite to Reinforce Early Learning

In a recent article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Gregg Behr and Kristen Burns, both Executives of the Grable Foundation, discuss the topic of early childhood programs and explore the increasing general awareness of the important role of early learning experiences.


Data has repeatedly shown that “kids who participate in high-quality programs develop a greater capacity for cognitive and social-emotional skills like collaboration, communication, and perseverance — skills that improve school attendance, grades, and more.”

However, with the current levels of early childhood funding, only “two-thirds of American four-year-olds are enrolled in early learning programs…with less than a quarter of those programs being considered high-quality.” Because of this, advocates are calling for grantmakers and foundations to step up, as many have, to reinforce the positive impact of early childhood programs.

Toxic Stress and Trauma

In the article, Behr and Burns discuss the negative impacts of sustained exposure to toxic stress and trauma. Because of this, disadvantaged kids may be taking the brunt of the impact with greater risks for developmental delays linked to problems such as “poor academic achievement, substance abuse, and diabetes.” However, studies show that even if a young child is exposed to toxic stress and trauma, many of the negative impacts may be reduced if the child has access to a positive, safe, and supportive early learning experience. By advocating for increased investments in early childhood, foundations are advocating to support the healthy development and success of our nation’s children.

Current Funding

Behr and Burns state that “among the 91 grantmakers surveyed, one-third reported funding [efforts related to early childhood programs]. Of those, well over half anticipated increased support in the next two years.” However, despite wide and growing support for the cause, early childhood spending gets just four percent of foundation dollars. Because of this, advocates are calling on grantmakers and foundations to unite in an effort to support the benefits of early childhood programs. While philanthropy cannot take the place of adequate government funding, any supportive effort today “may lead to better public policy tomorrow.”

Learn More

To read the full article, including clear examples highlighted in the Grantmakers for Education report, visit the website.

Gregg Behr is executive director of the Grable Foundation and chairman of Grantmakers for Education. Kristen Burns is associate director of Grable.


January 16, 2019

DHS Will Issue February SNAP Benefits Early

On January 8, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) notified states that February benefits for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will be fully funded.

In order to receive funding however, February benefits must be issued by January 20, 2019. The Department of Human Services (DHS) has determined that they will be able to issue February SNAP benefits by January 20 in order to meet the federally imposed deadline. Below is what you need to know about SNAP benefits in January and February.


Receiving February Benefits

All SNAP recipients who did not have a renewal due in January, or whose renewal for January was completed by January 14, will receive their February benefits on their electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards on January 18, 2019.

For those (with January renewals due) who completed their renewal after January 14, February benefits will be available on their EBT card one day after their renewal is processed.

What This Means for SNAP Recipients

These benefits will be the only benefit payment SNAP recipients will receive for the month of February. Recipients will not receive a payment on their regularly scheduled February payment date. This payment is not a bonus or increase in a recipient’s monthly payment. Rather, this payment is their benefit for the month of February.

Recipients will need to make this early payment last through an undefined period of time if the government shutdown persists. DHS is awaiting further guidance from the USDA regarding the availability of benefits for March. Because of this, recipients experiencing food insecurity may have greater challenges during this period. This will likely result in a higher number of individuals seeking aid from charitable food organizations around the commonwealth.

Applications and Renewals

DHS will continue to accept SNAP applications and process renewal applications. Recipients should continue reporting any changes and should submit the semi-annual reviews or renewals that they receive. DHS will continue to issue benefits to applicants found eligible in February until they are told to stop issuing by USDA.

Questions and Concerns

All County Assistance Offices remain open and staff are available to assist applicants and recipients during this time.

For any questions about benefits, please contact the statewide customer service center at 1.877.395.8930. For residents of Philidelphia, contact 1.215.560.7226.


For any individual seeking additional food assistance, the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh has compiled a list of community resources and organizations.