March 14, 2023

UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation Offering Medical Grants for Children

The UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation (UHCCF) is offering medical grants to families unable to afford child medical expenses not covered, or not fully covered, by commercial health insurance.

Families can receive up to $5,000 annually per child ($10,000 lifetime maximum per child), and do not need to have insurance through UnitedHealthcare to be eligible to receive medical grants.

About UHCCF Medical Grants

UHCCF is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that provides medical grants to help children gain access to health-related services not covered or not fully covered by their family’s commercial health insurance plan.

Grants are available for medical costs incurred within 60 days of application and are good for one year following the month in which they are approved.

Families can use medical grants to cover the cost of deductibles, coinsurance, copays, and a variety of non-covered services and supports, including therapies, durable medical equipment, hospital stays, medication, mental health services, and most other standard/FDA approved services.

Families cannot use medical grants to pay for insurance premiums, home modifications, and experimental or unproven services. Visit the UHCCF website to find a list of other exclusions.

Grant recipients awarded less than $5,000 may re-apply for another grant once the current grant funds have been completely exhausted.

Applications not approved by the regional board must wait 12 months before re-applying unless the medical condition and requested items have significantly changed from the original request.

Grant Eligibility

Families are eligible for UHCCF medical grants if:

  • The child for whom they seek financial support is:
    • facing a health-related challenge
    • 16 years of age or younger at the time of application
    • a United States citizen and resides in the U.S.
    • covered by a commercial health plan individually purchased or provided by a caretaker’s employer
    • receiving care in the U.S. from a a licensed medical professional or receiving treatments in the U.S. prescribed by a Medical Doctor (M.D.), Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) or Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.)
      • Care or treatment administered in U.S. territories including U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico are not eligible for UHCCF grant coverage.
  • Their maximum annual income, as reported on Internal Revenue Service (IRS) 1040 Tax Form, does not exceed:
    • Family Size of two – $55,000
    • Family Size of three – $85,000
    • Family Size of four – $115,000
    • Family Size of five or more – $145,000
  • They apply in a timely manor.
    • If families seek a grant for treatment or service that occurred more than 60 days prior to the application, their application will not be considered.

Apply for a Grant

To apply for UHCCF grant:

  • Ask your child’s physician to complete the Physician Certification of Medical Condition Form and obtain an electronic copy of the completed form.
  • Obtain an electronic copy of your IRS 1040 Tax Form.
  • Obtain an electronic copy of the front and back of your current commercial/private insurance card.
  • Complete the online UHCCF grant application, attaching electronic copies of the completed and signed Medical Condition Form, IRS 1040 Tax Form, and commercial/private insurance card.

Learn More

UHCCF’s funding is provided by contributions from individuals, corporations, and UnitedHealth Group employees.

To learn more, visit the UHCCF website.


March 10, 2023

Navigating Family Dynamics: A Native Youth Perspective

Join the Grandfamilies & Kinship Network and National Indian Child Welfare Association for this webinar on child care and the relational worldview model—an Indigenous child care model that looks at well-being as a balance between the four quadrants: environment, mind, body, and spirit.

Panelists will discuss their experience living in grandfamilies and kinship families, navigating changes in relationships with their relatives, the things that helped bring them balance, and what support they needed from those around them.

Session Details

Tuesday, March 21 | 1 -2 p.m.



Learn More

To learn more, visit the Grandfamilies & Kinship Network website.


March 8, 2023

Child Care Providers to Invited to Join Family and Group Child Care Home Committee

Pennsylvania’s Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) is inviting child care providers throughout Pennsylvania to participate in the Family Child Home (FCCH) and Group Child Care Home (GCCH) Committee.

Pennsylvania child care providers interested in participating with the committee will have to sign-up by Monday, March 20, 2023.

About the Family Child Care Home (FCCH) and Group Child Care Home (GCCH) Committee

The goal of the FCCH and GCCH Committee is to form a culturally relevant and diverse group of child care providers and educators that is representative of the state of Pennsylvania. This group will connect to celebrate and share their strengths, struggles, and uniqueness with each other, as well as collaborate to identify effective early childhood strategies, enhance leadership skills, enhance quality-of-care provided to children and families that are served in Pennsylvania.

Discussions will also include updates on state and federal initiatives centered around child care, sharing of resources, opportunities, and concerns specific to child care providers, and thoughts on general workplace well-being for child care educators and professionals.

Meetings will be held virtually by Zoom in the evening, on a quarterly basis, with the opportunity to meet with the FCCH Coordinator during monthly office hours. The date and time of first meeting has not been announced yet.

See the flyer for more details. Interested child care providers in the state of Pennsylvania can express their interest in joining the Committee directly with OCDEL.


OCDEL Offering Two Free Carbon Monoxide Detectors to Certified Child Care Providers

Pennsylvania’s Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) is offering two complimentary First Alert carbon monoxide detectors to all certified child care providers in Pennsylvania.

The detectors are available to all certified child care providers in the state who want them. However, providers are not required to order or place the detectors.

Why is OCDEL offering carbon monoxide detectors?

In October 2022, a carbon monoxide leak occurred in a Pennsylvania child care facility. OCDEL is providing this opportunity for providers who want to increase the safety of their staff and the children in their care.

How do I order complimentary carbon monoxide detectors for my child care facility?

School Health, a national provider of health supplies, sent an email on March 1 to all certified child care providers in Pennsylvania. The email, sent from, included a unique promotional code and instructions on how to order the carbon monoxide detectors.

Providers interested in ordering the detectors should follow the instructions in the School Health email to place their orders. The provided promotional code will cover the cost of purchase and shipping for two detectors.

Please note:

  • School Health promotional codes are unique. Child care providers should not share promotional codes or forward the School Health email to other child care providers.
  • OCDEL will only cover the cost of this one-time purchase and will not cover any other costs, including replacement costs for lost, broken, or malfunctioning devices.

Who can I contact with questions?

If you have any questions, or did not receive an email on March 1, please contact Kristi Leahy from School Health at or 630-339-7943.


March 3, 2023

New Survey Reveals Impact of Child Care Staffing Shortage

Partners of the Start Strong PA and Pre-K for PA advocacy campaigns recently released new survey results detailing the wage-driven staffing crisis in the early care and education sector, which continues to contract the capacity of child care programs.

About the Survey

The new survey, conducted between January 31 and February 12 details the current child care staffing crisis in more than 1,100 Pennsylvania child care programs across 54 counties and its effects on working families’ ability to access care.

Summary of Survey Results

Staffing Crisis

  • Programs need to fill nearly 4,000 open staffing positions.
  • 85% of child care respondents reported staffing shortages.
  • 50% of child care respondents have closed at least one classroom.

Impact on Working Families

  • Nearly 35,500 children currently sit on child care waiting lists.
  • More than 30,000 additional children could be served at respondents’ sites if they were fully staffed.
  • Over 2,200 children currently sit on Pre-K Counts waiting lists.
  • Over 650 children currently sit on Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program waiting lists.


The February 2023 survey results depict a deepening crisis in the early care and education sector. In May 2022, Start Strong PA released a similar survey showing that Pennsylvania’s child care centers were experiencing a staffing shortage resulting in nearly 32,500 children sitting on waiting lists. These new survey results show that over the past 10 months, waiting list numbers have continued to increase across Pennsylvania.

Start Strong PA and Pre-K for PA Campaign Recommendations

Child care workers, on average, make less than $12.50 an hour, and 50% of them qualify for government benefits. Because of this, child care providers cannot compete against other industries, which offer higher wages and require less specialized skills, for staff.

Child care advocates are calling on Governor Shapiro and the Pennsylvania General Assembly to increase investment in early care and education programs, using recurring funds as part of the 2023-2024 state budget.

Learn More

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

Statewide results

Trying Together is a principal partner of the Start Strong PA and Pre-K for PA campaigns.

To learn more, visit the Trying Together, Start Strong PA, or Pre-K for PA websites.


March 2, 2023

Bridging the Gaps in Early Childhood Education

HiMama recently surveyed over 1,500 child care professionals, asking about issues facing the child care industry. The results, compiled in their 7th Annual Childcare Industry Snapshot, paint a picture of child care providers who are optimistic, despite facing significant challenges in 2023.

In this webinar, panelists will dive deeper into the survey data and share their own child care experiences and insights, before answering your questions.

Session Details

Thursday, March 9 | 2 -3 p.m.



Learn More

In this special webinar, HiMama will welcome Tirusha Dave, owner of Ellie’s Academy, Bernadette Testani, owner of Atelier Childcare, and HiMama’s own Jo Sinanan.

To learn more, visit the HiMama website.


February 24, 2023

Request for Applications: PA Early Head Start Child Care Partnerships

The Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) is requesting applications for Early Head Start Child Care Partnerships (EHSCCP).

Partnerships are made possible by an EHSCCP grant, and forty partnership opportunities are available. Applications are due by March 20.

About EHSCCP and the EHSCCP Grant

Pennsylvania’s EHSCCP grant enables partnerships between high-quality child care providers and OCDEL, which provide funded child care to infants and toddlers.

All providers who meet eligibility standards are encouraged to complete an application for consideration.


To apply for an EHSCCP opportunity, child care providers must:

  • have and maintain a STAR 3 or 4 rating
  • provide full day (10 hours or more) and full year care to infants and toddlers (ages 6 weeks – 3 years) of income-eligible, working or student families or caregivers
  • adhere to all Head Start Program Performance Standards and OCDEL Early Head Start (EHS) policies including:
    • meeting a staff to child ratio of 1:4
    • maintaining a maximum group size of eight children
    • providing two qualified, in-room staff members at all times
    • assigning children to primary care groups
  • retain or hire qualified staff to work in EHS classrooms
    • EHS classroom staff must have an Infant Toddler CDA and/or a degree in Early Childhood Education.
  • facilitate ongoing staff coaching with an OCDEL EHS coach
  • maintain full enrollment and fill vacant slots within 30 days
  • participate in Child Care Works (CCW)
  • continue to provide care to children who lose their CCW until they transition from the program
  • never unenroll children due to loss of subsidy
  • utilize GoEngage data system (previously known as MyHeadStart)
  • work collaboratively with the comprehensive service provider holding their contract, if applicable
  • waive any fees typically charged to enrolled families, except for subsidy co-pays

How to Apply

To apply, complete the application below:

EHSCCP Application

Applicants must submit their applications via email. Send completed applications to by Monday, March 20.

Learn More

The OCDEL EHS Team will host a Q&A via Zoom to address questions about the requirements of the grants and the application process, and to provide general information about EHSCCP on Thursday, March 2 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Pre-registration is not required.

To learn more, visit the Pennsylvania Key website.


February 23, 2023

Prioritizing Father Engagement Using the Parent, Family, and Community Engagement Framework

Strong partnerships between program staff and fathers are the foundation for positive and lasting change for children, fathers, and their families. Through these partnerships, programs can work more effectively to support father-child relationships and other outcomes for children and families.

Join the Office of Head Start and its National Center on Parent, Family, and Community Engagement to learn about planning, prioritizing, and promoting father and male engagement, and creating a safe program environment for fathers to share their hopes, celebrations, challenges, and resource needs.

This webinar is offered with simultaneous interpretation in Spanish.

Session Details

Thursday, March 9 | 3 – 4 p.m.



Learn More

In this webinar, attendees will hear:

  • ideas for planning and prioritizing program-wide father engagement using the PFCE Framework elements as a guide
  • program planning strategies to support father engagement goals
  • opportunities to strengthen fathers’ connections to peers and community resources

To learn more, visit the Office of Head Start or National Center on Parent, Family, and Community Engagement websites.


February 16, 2023

Cost Estimation – Improving Child Care Subsidy Rate Setting

In Pennsylvania, child care programs operate on razor-thin margins. Additionally, child care teachers and staff get paid low wages. Still, the price of child care remains high and a burden for most families.

Join Start Strong PA at this webinar to learn how cost modeling offers practical and achievable ways to change this reality.

Session Details

Wednesday, February 22 | 12 – 1:30 p.m.



Learn More

Cost modeling is the process that Pennsylvania needs to undertake to estimate the true cost of care for child care programs providing high-quality child care, including appropriate compensation for teachers and staff.

Determining the true cost of care is critical to addressing the underfunding in the child care system.

It is up to all of us to understand the solution, so that we can promote this change.

At this webinar, attendees will hear more about cost modeling from the following presenters:
  • Jeanna Capito, Principal, Prenatal to Five Fiscal Strategies
  • Daisy Lira, Director, Bumble Bee Learning Center, Sunland Park, New Mexico
  • Kelly Hoffman, Vice President of Data and Strategy, Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children
  • Jen DeBell, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Association for the Education of Young Children
  • Kimberly Early, Senior Director of Public Policy and Advocacy, Pennsylvania Association for the Education of Young Children


February 14, 2023

NAEYC Report Quantifies Impact of Recent Child Care Challenges

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) has released a report on the results of their fall survey. Entitled, “Uncertainty Ahead Means Instability Now: Why Families, Children, Educators, Businesses, and States Need Congress to Fund Child Care,” the report quantifies the impact of recent child care challenges.

About the NAEYC Survey and Report

The NAEYC survey was conducted in October 2022 using SurveyMonkey.

The resulting report represents the responses of 12,897 individuals working in all states (including 941 individuals working in Pennsylvania child care programs) and early childhood education settings, including faith-based programs, family child care homes, Head Starts, and child care centers. It is intended to present the experiences of the respondents, as captured in the moment that they took the survey.

Summary of Pennsylvania Survey Data

Data on Stabilization Grants

Over the course of the pandemic, Pennsylvania utilized federal relief funding to stabilize the child care sector. This included one-time bonuses for child care teachers and increased subsidy payments for providers to increase staff salaries. However, this relief funding will soon end. As a result of the end of pandemic relief funding:

  • 62% of Pennsylvania child care center directors reported that they will have to raise tuition
  • 29% of Pennsylvania child care center directors reported they will have to cut staff salaries

Data on Staffing and Supply

  • 57.7% of Pennsylvania child care center directors reported serving fewer children than they would like, primarily due to staffing shortages
    • 65.8% of Pennsylvania child care center directors reported currently experiencing a staffing shortage
  • 33.7% of Pennsylvania early childhood educators (ECE) indicated “yes” or “maybe” to considering leaving their job or closing their family child care home
    • 45.8% of family child care providers indicated “yes” or “maybe” to considering leaving their job
    • 35.4% of ECEs in minority-owned child care businesses indicated “yes” or “maybe” to considering leaving their job
    • 9.9% of ECEs in non-minority-owned child care businesses indicated “yes” or “maybe” to considering leaving their job
    • However, the majority of ECEs indicated competitive wages would convince them to stay at their jobs.

Data on ECE Workforce Well-Being

  • 34.9% of Pennsylvania respondents reported experiencing financial insecurity in the last year, despite 54.7% reporting an increased wage
  • Additionally, 78.6% of Pennsylvania respondents indicated that burnout/exhaustion contributed “greatly” or “to some extent” to problems retaining teachers

NAEYC Recommendations

NAEYC recommends that congress build on the successes of child care funding to prioritize additional, sustainable investments.

These investments ensure programs and educators can meet the needs of families, children, and businesses, and states can continue to build towards an early childhood education system that works.

Learn More

To learn more about the NAEYC survey results, read the full report.