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

Members for New Pittsburgh Advisory Committee for Youth and Family Resource Centers Named

City of Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey and City Council President Theresa Kail-Smith recently named the members of the new Advisory Committee for Youth and Family Resource Centers in their joined effort to tackle youth violence in Pittsburgh.

The nine-member committee will find ways to utilize existing city assets to launch resource centers. These centers will serve as a safe spaces for children and youth, while providing support services for families in need.

About the Advisory Committee for Youth and Family Resource Centers

Pittsburgh City Council chose five members of the committee and Gainey chose the remaining four members.

 Members of the Advisory Committee for Youth and Family Resource Centers include:

As chosen by the Pittsburgh City Council:

  • Councilman Rev. Ricky Burgess
  • Councilman Anthony Coghill
  • Councilman R. Daniel Lavelle
  • Ricky Moody – Community Health and Human Services Policy Manager
  • Diane Hobson – Community Engagement Specialist

As chosen by Mayor Ed Gainey:

  • Lisa Frank – Chief Administrative and Operations Officer
  • Kathryn Vargas – Director Parks and Recreation
  • David Jones – Assistant Director of Community Affairs, Department of Public Safety
  • Education Coordinator – Office of the Mayor Ed Gainey

Learn More

The committee will soon convene their initial meeting. In this meeting, they will discuss their meeting schedule, public engagement, and timeline for their strategic plan to open up city owned facilities in areas being impacted by youth violence.

To learn more, visit the City of Pittsburgh website.


January 18, 2023

A+ Schools Restorative Parenting Workshop: Positive Parenting Strategies to Improve Home and School

Join A+ Schools for lunch and an interactive workshop with a restorative practices expert who will share concrete ways to balance support and firmness to help you and your students foster positive home and school relationships. Child care is available during the session.

Session Details

Saturday, January 28, 2023 | 12 – 3 p.m.
Propel Wellness Center
1805 Buena Vista Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15212

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January 19, 2022

UnConference: Creating a Safe Place with Trauma-Informed Care

UnConference Details

Between February 8-18, expert-led workshops will share content related to trauma-informed care. We begin the UnConference with keynote speaker Dr. Veirdre Jackson and dive into how we can create an environment of healing through equity and trust. Following the keynote, workshop sessions include how to identify family stressors, how to provide responsive care-giving for children experiencing trauma, and an overview of the recently launched Rapid Response Team from Trying Together. 

Video recordings of the sessions are available until April 20, 2022. You must have registered for the UnConference in order to access session recordings. If you are having trouble viewing the recordings, please contact Allison Hritz at

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What Do I Receive?

    • PQAS and/or Act 48 hours.
    • Networking with colleagues.
    • Interactive workshop sessions.
    • Refreshed or refined thinking about your work with young children.



Featured Sessions

Keynote: Co-Creating A Healing Community of Equity & Trust

Tuesday, February 8, 2022 | 6:30 – 8 p.m. 
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Veirdre Jackson, Living Strong Consulting

Communities, however defined, are made up of people who bring a range of experiences and histories. Remaining open, curious, and culturally humble is essential to understanding a community’s resilience, strength, and wisdom. Claudia Woody says, “Inclusion means not ‘just we’re allowed to be there,’ but we are valued there.” Participants will explore the 5 Blocks of Building Restorative Relationships that allow caregivers to create holistic and supportive spaces that are responsive to historical trauma and equity literacy, which holds us accountable to doing the work of learning together, seeking understanding, and creating a safe, valued, and heard community.

Rapid Response Team: Reducing Expulsions and Suspensions in Early Childhood Education

Thursday, February 10, 2022 |  6:30 – 8 p.m.
Presented by: Alicia Sebastian, Trying Together

This session will discuss the ongoing and growing issue surrounding expulsion and suspension in early childhood education that have been linked to staff implicit bias, challenging behaviors, and staffing issues. The presentation will guide parents, caregivers, directors, and staff working with children ages 0-5 on how to prevent expulsion and suspension in early childhood education. The session will discuss ways to implement evidence-based strategies to promote positive behavior support, self-regulation, and positive mental health. We will share community resources and programs for children and families in Allegheny County.

Self-Care Isn’t Selfish, It’s Necessary: Practical Tools for Early Childhood Educators to Reduce Stress and Avoid Burn-Out

Monday, February 14, 2022  |  12:30 – 2 p.m.
Presented by: Tracy Larson, Director, Early Childhood Partnerships, Office of Child Development

In this session, participants will learn why self-care is necessary, how to recognize when they need to be more intentional about self-care, and research informed strategies and activities to reduce stress and avoid burn-out. At the end of the session, participants will create a personalized self-care plan.

Talking to Listen: Exploring Family Stressors and Creating Positive Relationships to Support Families

Tuesday, February 15, 2022 | 6:30 – 8 p.m.
Presented by:
Patrick M. McKelvey, MS, NCC, National Youth Advocate Program Inc.

Children react differently to stress and trauma, which can sometimes exhibit itself as challenging behaviors in the classroom. This workshop helps educators understand the impact that family stressors (such as a death, food insecurity, changes in placement, community violence, etc.) can have on both children and their caregivers. Participants will learn how to notice these family stressors; how to communicate with caregivers to build relationships that provide a supportive environment for young children; and self-regulation strategies to manage strong emotions when having difficult conversations with caregivers.

Teaching Children Through a Trauma Lens

Thursday February 17, 2022 | 6:30 – 8 p.m.
Presenters:  Amanda Harrison, MA, LPC, NCC, Infant Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant with the PA Keys

Research continues to show the detrimental effects that complex trauma has on the developing brain with our most vulnerable population. Over time, these young children are at risk for developmental delays, limited positive relationships, and a host of other difficulties. Our early education classrooms can create safe, responsive, and equitable environments to assist in reducing these harmful effects. This presentation will identify different types of trauma, how young children with trauma may present in the classroom, and supportive strategies teachers can implement to foster environments that encourage healing.



Individuals may register for this event online. Recordings of each workshop session will be available on this webpage after the conclusion of each session. Please continue to monitor this page for updates.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How Do I Attend this UnConference Virtually?

These sessions are hosted using the web-based video conferencing platform Zoom. Please download Zoom to your device of choice prior to the start of the UnConference. UnConference hosts send out all workshop links via email at least 24 hours before the start of each event.

How Do I Receive Credit?

PQAS and Act 48 credits are available to professionals who registered for and complete these sessions. More information, including the online Attendance form, will be sent via email to individuals who registered. Once completed, Allison Hritz, Professional Learning Coordinator at Trying Together, will process your credit. If you have questions specific to receiving credit, please email

More Information

For questions about the UnConference, contact Yu-Ling Cheng at



Presenter Information

Keynote Presenter: Dr. Veirdre Jackson, Living Strong Consulting

Dr. Veirdre Jackson is a woman pursuing her purpose, passion, and life’s priority to share her belief that all children deserve the best education available. She is an award-winning author, educator, and entrepreneur who is recognized as a leading educational trainer in trauma informed practices and cultural competence. She is a veteran educator with over 20 years of experience supporting non-profit and executive leadership.

Dr. Jackson is the CEO/Founder of Living Strong Consulting LLC and the Co-Founder of Fresh Fountain of Life Counseling and Wellness. She also serves on the educational executive boards of the Black Women’s Educational Alliance and Camp Endeavor. She is a highly sought-after keynote speaker and consultant, working with organizations like Lakeside Global Institute as a mentor trainer; Penn State Extension as an online course developer; Pennsylvania Early Head Start as a classroom and home visiting coach; Zero to Three as a Certified trainer in Infant Toddler Competencies and the Growing Brain; and various K-12 public and charter school districts as an Equity and Justice Consultant and Relational Coach. Her commitment to leaders and organizational development is elevated through her John Maxwell Team Certification which allows her to support leaders in sustaining growth and maintaining mission through trainings, mastermind sessions, lunch & learns, and coaching in such topics as Today Matters, Leadership Gold, How to Be a REAL Success, Becoming A Person of Influence, The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, and more. 

Dr. Jackson has been recognized for her expertise in professional development by Pennsylvania’s Keystone Stars’ Southeast Regional Key as a Professional Development Champion; is a featured presenter for the newly released “4 Part Trauma and Child Development Series” by Penn State’s Better Kid Care; has been a contributor to Women’s Entrepreneur Magazine; is a reoccurring keynote and breakout session speaker for conferences nationally and the guest speaker on several podcasts, and was recognized by the Philadelphia Business Journal as one of 40 Leaders Under 40.

Amanda Harrison, MA, LPC, NCC, Infant Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant with the PA Keys

A 2000 graduate with a degree in elementary education from Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma, Amanda always had a passion for working with children. Soon after returning to her hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, she went on to complete a Master’s in Clinical Counseling in which she specialized in child and adolescent therapy. For the past 16 years, she has had various roles in the mental health field. Currently, she continues her passion of working with children and families as an Infant Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant with the PA Keys. A current doctoral candidate at IUP’s Counselor Education and Supervision, PhD program, she also continues to specialize her education and assist others in becoming competent mental health professionals.

Dr. Tracy Larson, Director, Early Childhood Partnerships, Office of Child Development

Tracy Larson is a psychologist, educator and consultant who has worked in the early childhood education field for 17 years promoting adult and child social emotional learning and mental health and wellness. Dr. Larson empowers adults to build positive adult-child relationships and create supportive environments where all children thrive.

Patrick M. McKelvey, MS, NCC, National Youth Advocate Program Inc.

Patrick McKelvey earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida and Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Patrick is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Nationally Certified Counselor. Patrick has served in a variety of roles including a Clinical Program Manager overseeing pediatric and early childhood behavioral health programs in Western Pennsylvania, specializing in evidenced-based trauma treatments for children and families in various community and school-based settings and serving as an educational and outreach coordinator focused on childhood grief. Patrick currently serves as Clinical Supervisor for the National Youth Advocate Program (NYAP) in Columbus, Ohio where he oversees school-based programming and a newly developed rapid response team for children and adolescents. Patrick has spent the last 4 years collaborating with Allegheny County Children, Youth and Families to develop and implement staff supports to mitigate the effects of secondary traumatic stress. In addition, Patrick is a rostered Child- Parent Psychotherapy (CPP) therapist; and has a passion for developing innovative approaches to working within an interdisciplinary approach with other child-serving systems to advocate for strengthening child-centric and trauma-informed approaches to child and family supports.

Alicia Sebastian, Trying Together

Alicia Sebastian is currently spearheading a new project in Allegheny County focusing on decreasing and eliminating expulsions and suspensions in child care settings. Her current role as the Collaborations and Support Strategist focuses on creating a Rapid Response Team for child care providers to utilize if they are in need of external support for children, staff, and families. She has been working for Trying Together, a non-profit agency in Pittsburgh, PA since February 2020, where she started as an Early Head Start Coach providing support to Early Head Start staff. Prior to working with Trying Together, Alicia spent three years as a developmental therapist working with infants and toddlers ages zero to three throughout Allegheny and Washington County. She graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2013 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Disability Services and completed her Master’s Degree in 2016 at the University of Pittsburgh through a program in Early Intervention specializing in Autism.

Thank You To Our Sponsors and Partners

A huge thank you to our series sponsor PNC Grow Up Great.


PNC Grow Up Great logo


About Trying Together

Trying Together supports high-quality care and education for young children by providing advocacy, community resources, and professional growth opportunities for the needs and rights of children, their families, and the individuals who interact with them. Trying Together works regionally (in Southwestern Pennsylvania) and takes its expertise and models to statewide and national audiences.


January 11, 2021

Pandemic Relief Available for Child Care Workers

Child care providers can now apply for a $600 Pandemic Relief Award on behalf of their eligible child care employees and child care support employees currently working directly with children as of January 1, 2021, and working a minimum of 20 paid hours a week. Early Learning Resource Center (ELRC) Region 5 will host Q&A sessions to help providers through the application process.



The Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) is providing a one-time $600 award to approximately 33,000 child care employees and child care support staff across the commonwealth. Examples of child care employees may include but are not limited to the following:

    • Child Care Center: Director, Group Supervisor, Assistant Group Supervisor, Aide
    • Group Child Care Home: Primary Staff and Secondary Staff
    • Family Child Care Home: Owner/Operator and Staff Person

Providers of all STAR levels may apply on behalf of their child care employees and child care support employees. Awards will be paid directly from the ELRC to the Department of Human Services (DHS) certified child care provider’s owner/operator/director, who will then pay the child care employee or child care support employee directly after taxes and deductions that would apply to regular wages.



To be eligible for the Child Care COVID-19 Pandemic Relief Award, a DHS certified child care employee or child care support staff must meet the following requirements:

    • Currently working at the provider as of January 1, 2021.
    • Earn less than a gross salary of $70,000 annually.
    • Work a minimum of 20 hours a week at a DHS certified child care provider. Holidays, vacation, sick and other approved time off does not factor into this eligibility requirement.
    • Pre-K Counts (PKC) and Head Start State Supplemental Assistance Program (HSSAP) DHS child care employees and child care support staff are also eligible if they work directly with children in a DHS certified child care at least 20 hours a week.
    • These employees must work outside of the PKC and HSSAP program hours and meet all other eligibility criteria as noted in the above first three bullets.
    • PKC and HSSAP DHS child care employees and child care support employees are also eligible if they work directly with children in a blended classroom with both PKC and HSSAP funded children, Child Care Works (CCW) and/or private pay child care children.

The following are NOT eligible:

    • DHS certified child care employees and child care support employees who are currently laid off or did not return after being laid off from work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • DHS certified child care employees or child care support employees working less than 20 hours a week at the DHS certified child care provider.
    • Volunteers.
    • Household member (unless a household member is a paid employee working 20 hours a week in a DHS regulated child care).
    • Pre-K Counts and HSSAP employees not working directly with children in a DHS certified child care setting at least 20 hours a week.
    • Employees working in a business role where no direct contact with families or children take place.
    • Employees who earn more than a gross salary of $70,000 annually.
    • Relative child care providers.
    • Outside vendors serving as support staff.
    • Staff working virtually.
    • If a DHS certified child care provider’s owner/operator/director chooses not to participate in this award process, the employee cannot apply as an individual.

How To Apply

ELRC Region 5 is accepting applications from January 13 to February 12, 2021. All applications must be sent to ELRC Region 5 via ELRC Region 5 will host Q&A sessions to help providers through the application process. Sessions will be held at various times from January 13 to January 22, 2021.

Only one $600 award is allowed per eligible certified child care employee or child care support employee; regardless of employment at multiple locations or with multiple employers. The award is on a first-come, first-served basis. Applications are available in a fillable PDF format or a Word format.

More Information

For questions, contact ELRC Region 5 at 1.888.340.3572 or More information about eligibility criteria, applications, award approval, and award monitoring can be found in the following documents:


July 21, 2020

Child Care Works Payment Practice Changes Effective 9/1

On July 17, the Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) issued an announcement stating that starting September 1, 2020, Child Care Works (CCW) payments will return to payment practices and policies based on attendance and invoicing for all children. This will remain true regardless of when a child was enrolled with the provider.

Additional Policy Changes

In addition, the following policies will again be effective starting September 1:

    • absences will be tracked and counted towards the 40 days of absences for all children;
    • children’s enrollment after five days of absence will be suspended until the child returns to care;
    • all Adverse Action notices will be sent to families per policy;
    • dual enrollments, the practice implemented under COVID-19 to support both a closed provider and families who need care, will end; and
    • collection of family co-pays will resume.

The announcement is intended to provide advance notice to child care providers, allowing them to plan for the use of final CARES Act funding which will be issued in August. Providers should communicate the resumption of absence policies (effective September 1) to the families they serve.

More Information

For more information, view OCDEL’s full announcement or contact your local ELRC.


July 17, 2020

Child Care Providers Eligible for PA Hazard Pay Grants

On July 16, Governor Tom Wolf announced that $50 million in grant funding is available to help employers provide hazard pay to employees in life-sustaining occupations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hazard pay is intended to keep front-line employees working in vital industry sectors across Pennsylvania.

About the Grant

Created through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, this reimbursement-based grant is available to employers offering hazard pay during the eligible program period and will be administered by the state Department of Community and Economic Development. Within the guidelines, child care is identified as an eligible industry (Health and Social Assistance).

Hazard pay is defined as additional pay for performing hazardous duty or work involving physical hardship, in each case that is related to COVID-19. Employers can apply for up to $3 million in funding. Grant funds can be used for hazard pay for direct, full-time, and part-time employees earning less than $20 per hour, excluding fringe benefits and overtime.

Funds can only be used to pay hazard pay for eligible employees for the 10-week period from August 16 through October 24, 2020.

Submit an Application

Applicants can apply for up to $1,200 per eligible full-time equivalent employee. The hazard pay must be paid to the eligible employee over the 10-week period of August 16 through October 24, 2020 as a $3 per hour hazard pay increase to their regular pay rate.

Employers can apply for a grant to provide hazard pay for up to 500 eligible full-time equivalent employees per location ($600,000 maximum grant per location). Applications will be received from July 16 through July 31, 2020. To apply for funding, submit an application through the Electronic Single Application.

More Information

For more information or questions, contact 717.787.6245 or


June 30, 2020

National Family Child Care Conference

Are you interested in celebrating and exploring the field of family child care? Join the National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC) on July 17 and 18 for the 30th National Family Child Care Conference!


Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, NAFCC will host its annual National Family Child Care Conference virtually on the evening of Friday, July 17 and all day on Saturday, July 18. The conference will feature:

    • live and on-demand workshops,
    • an opportunity to earn up to 24 hours (or 2.4 continuing education units) of training credit,
    • a Spanish track with four live sessions presented in Spanish,
    • a Black and Latina caucus where participants can discuss the things that are important to them, and
    • a virtual exhibit hall where participants can view vendors without leaving their homes.

Featured Topics

Live and on-demand workshops will cover a variety of topics, including, but not limited to, the following:

    • record-keeping and tax implications of COVID-19,
    • organizing a sustainable daily routine that supports health and wellbeing,
    • how to make your home a place of inquiry, play, and experimentation,
    • strategies for creating an environment that promotes a variety of social-emotional skills,
    • finding out and improving your business’ profit margin, and
    • recognizing early signs of mental illness in young children.

View the schedule and full workshop descriptions.


To register and learn more, visit the event webpage. For questions, submit NAFCC’s online contact form.


June 12, 2020

Allegheny Child Care is Growing

As of this week, we are excited to announce that we have expanded the Allegheny Child Care search tool to include: after-school; out-of-school; and summer programs! If you provide one or more of these services and have not already confirmed your information, we ask that you update your listing as soon as possible at

Promote Your Out of School & Summer Programs Now

If your program re-opened as part of Allegheny County’s move to the “green phase” last week, we hope that your first week back has been a welcomed return for you and your children, families, and staff.

By updating your information, the Allegheny Child Care tool will assist you in promoting and marketing your program(s) to families. In turn, this will allow you to expedite the process for getting children enrolled, thus making an often stressful task less burdensome for families especially at this time. If you have any questions or issues please:

Thank you for your assistance.

Updating Your Information

In order to add the after-school, out-of-school, and summer-time programs to the platform, we pulled public data currently available from our partners at Allegheny Partners for Out of School Time (APOST) and United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania.

As information may have changed due to COVID-19, we would appreciate you taking a few minutes to review the information listed for your program(s) on the platform and then updating it accordingly at

In particular, please update your:

  • current operational status (open/closed and availability);
  • age group(s) served; and
  • basic profile information.

You will receive regular email reminders to update your vacancy information so parents searching for care can find your program.

More Information

From the COVID-19 crisis, Allegheny Child Care is a unique pilot project that has been developed to support the child care needs of families. Caregivers and parents of young children can now search available child care spots at Allegheny County early learning programs in real-time with the Allegheny Child Care tool.


March 20, 2020

COVID-19: Considerations for Early Childhood Professionals

Join Executive Director for the Institute for Child Preparedness Andrew Roszak, JD, MPA, EMT-Paramedic, on March 24 for his webinar, “COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic: Considerations for Early Childhood Professionals.”


Gryphon House is partnering with the preparedness experts at the Institute for Childhood Preparedness to offer this special webinar, designed to help cut through the noise and provide you with the essential information you need as an early childhood professional. Gryphon House author, Andrew Roszak, will provide the latest updates and information designed to help keep you safe.

This webinar will be of benefit to pre-k teachers, librarians, child care providers, and school and district leaders. There will be time to have your questions answered at the end of the presentation.


To register and learn more, visit the event webpage!