September 14, 2022

Participate in Early Childhood Wage Survey

Trying Together’s statewide partners — Children First and Reinvestment Fund with Start Strong PA — are conducting a survey to determine the wages of early childhood educators across Pennsylvania.

Child Wage Survey

Providers of early childhood education have struggled with low wages for some time. These unlivable wages have contributed to the current staffing shortages affecting the entire profession. In order to effectively advocate on behalf of educators, legislators need to know the current wages that early childhood professionals are being paid in real time.

To effectively gather this information, teachers in early childhood classrooms are encouraged to participate in this ongoing wage survey. Information will be confidential and any data collected will only be reported in the aggregate. Participants will also have the option to enter a drawing for a $50 Amazon gift card.

Please direct all questions to Mai Miksic,, early childhood education policy director at Children First.


April 14, 2022

March 2022 Child Care Staffing Survey Results

A survey conducted by partners of the Start Strong PA Campaign quantifies Pennsylvania’s current child care  staffing crisis — caused by low wages.

Survey Results

The survey — conducted between March 8, 2022 and April 3, 2022 — details the current child care staffing crisis in 1,163 Pennsylvania child care programs across 63 counties and its effects on working families’ ability to access care.

According to the survey:

  • Nearly 32,500 children currently sit on waiting lists.
  • More than 30,000 additional children could be served at respondents’ sites if they were fully staffed.
  • 91% of respondents reported staffing shortages.
  • Programs need to fill nearly 7,000 open child care positions.
  • 48% of respondents have closed at least one classroom.

In September 2021, Start Strong PA released a similar survey showing that Pennsylvania’s child care centers were experiencing a staffing shortage resulting in more than 25,000 children sitting on waiting lists. In just six months, the waiting list numbers have increased by nearly 10,000 children with 169 fewer providers reporting.

The following fact sheets are available with statewide and county results:


Advocates are calling on the General Assembly and the Wolf Administration to “Raise Child Care” by allocating $115 million in sustainable state and/or federal funds as part of the final state budget to provide a $2 per hour wage supplement for child care teachers and staff.

Start Strong PA is asking for your signature in support the investment to child care providers.

More Information

To learn more about the survey and petition, visit the Start Strong PA website.


March 9, 2022

March 2022 PA Child Care Staffing Crisis Survey

The Start Strong PA campaign is collecting information from child care program owners and directors via a brief survey to help tell the story of Pennsylvania’s on-going child care staffing crisis.

(This article was updated on March 31, 2022 to reflect a deadline extension).

Take the Survey

The campaign will use survey results to demonstrate the urgent need for increased child care funding in the 2022-2023 state budget and to urge congressional delegation to support long-term, substantial investments in the early care and education sector to strengthen and secure the industry.

Directors and owners who complete the survey by Sunday, April 3, 2022 will be entered into a drawing for a $100 gift card. Start Strong PA will award two gift cards.

Take the March 2022 PA Child Care Staffing Crisis Survey.

Start Strong PA conducted a similar survey between August 30, 2021 and September 8, 2021. View the results of that survey.


October 1, 2021

One-Year Extension for Keystone STARS Designations

Beginning October 1, 2021 and through Sept. 30, 2022, the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) will grant one-year extensions to current Keystone STAR designations.

Designation Extensions

Pennsylvania’s ECE programs are struggling and facing concerns of losing their Keystone STARS rating due to the difficulty in finding and maintaining a strong, qualified work force. The one-year extension is meant to alleviate the stress on programs in completing full Keystone STAR designation renewals and annual paperwork renewals.

Extensions will allow programs additional time to engage in thoughtful discussions with their current staff, the Early Learning Resource Center, and their Professional Development Organization, to plan for future staff professional development (PD) and education needs.

Designation extensions will also allow programs to focus on COVID-19 mitigation efforts and American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Stabilization Grant applications.

OCDEL will use the additional time to analyze data and trends related to the ECE staffing crisis and better prepare for the field’s future needs.

Expectations for Programs

Keystone STARS programs will be expected to maintain all quality activities related to the STAR level at which they are currently designated during their one-year extensions. The following expectations will be in place for STAR programs:

  • STAR 2, 3, and 4 programs must maintain all required STAR 2 quality activities

  • STAR 3 and 4 programs must also maintain the two STAR 3 and 4 required quality activities

  • The three-year cycle associated with Internal Assessment Processes will not be affected by the one-year STAR extensions. STAR 3 and 4 programs should continue to work with their Quality Coach and member of the Program Quality Assessment team to ensure they are completing their IAP.

Any lapses in maintenance of the required quality activities could result in an appropriate action to a program’s STAR designation including a Status Review, Reduction, Suspension, or Removal. During the extensions, ELRC Quality Staff will continue to respond to complaints from parents and/or other community stakeholders regarding programs. Subsequent actions may include those outlined in the Keystone STARS Status Review, Reduction, Suspension, and Removal Process.

During the one-year STAR Designation extensions, programs are encouraged to engage in quality improvement activities with the ELRC, which will ensure they are continually pursuing excellence and will be fully prepared to resume all designation activities following the extension period.

Certificate of Compliance

Programs that have been placed on a provisional certificate of compliance (CoC) through the Department of Human Services (DHS) due to certification violations will continue to have their STAR designation suspended while on a provisional CoC. When the program regains their regular CoC, their STAR level will be restored to their previous STAR level (providing the STAR did not expire while on the provisional CoC) with the previous STAR designation expiration date and will not be granted a one-year Keystone STARS extension. These programs will be required to meet all applicable 2020 Keystone STARS Performance Standards for their STAR level at time of designation.

If a program’s current STAR expired while on a provisional CoC, the program will be moved down to a STAR 1 when a regular CoC is granted. To move up in STAR levels, the program will be required to meet all applicable 2020 Keystone STARS Performance Standards and, if successful in moving up, will not receive a Keystone STARS extension of the new STAR level.

Opting in for Normal Renewals

Programs that want to renew their STAR level as scheduled should reach out to the ELRC Region 5 at least 30 days, and up to 90 days, prior to their current STAR expiration date and communicate their desire to complete their designation renewal as normal. Programs who choose to forego the one-year extension will not be able to request a one-year extension at a later date.

Moving Up a STAR Level

Programs that want to move up in STAR levels will be able to do so using the current 2020 Keystone STARS Performance Standards. In order to move up in STAR levels, programs will be required to meet all quality indicators at the respective STAR level to which they are attempting to move. These programs should reach out to the ELRC Region 5 for guidance and next steps in moving up.

More Information

For more information, read the policy announcement here: ELRC Policy Announcement 21 #08 Keystone STARS Designation Extensions.