March 15, 2023

ACDHS Recommendations for End of Public Health Emergency

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently announced that the federal Public Health Emergency (PHE) declaration, which allows families and individuals to get COVID-19-related benefits and automatic coverages, will expire on May 11, 2023.

Many PHE benefits will terminate before this date, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) emergency allotments, which expired at the end of February 2023, and continuous Medical Assistance eligibility and enrollment, which will end on April 1, 2023.

To better support families through the transition, the Allegheny County Department of Human Services (ACDHS) issued the following recommendations:

How will the end of the PHE declaration affect families and individuals in Allegheny County?

Continuous Medical Assistance eligibility and enrollment will end April 1, 2023.

Everyone on Medical Assistance and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) will need to renew their application.

Starting in April, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (PA DHS) will send renewals over a 12-month period.

Recipients will need to:

  1. keep their contact information up-to-date, and
  2. respond quickly to any correspondence that they receive, even if nothing has changed. Not responding will result in a loss of coverage.

This will affect everyone in Allegheny County who receives Medical Assistance and CHIP.

SNAP benefits ended in February 2023

During the PHE, all SNAP households received at least an additional $95/month. Without this additional support, more than 166,000 people receiving SNAP benefits in Allegheny County may need food assistance.

How can families and individuals prepare for this transition?

Families and individuals receiving Medical Assistance or CHIP:

Families and individuals receiving Medical Assistance or CHIP should update their contact information in COMPASS. The Department of Human Services will send important notices in the mail about renewals, so it is very important that contact information be up-to-date.

Log into to update your contact information, or call the Statewide Customer Service Center at 1-877-395-8930, if you prefer not to use the online portal.

Families and individuals receiving SNAP benefits:

SNAP benefits have decreased, so some families and individuals may be struggling to secure enough food.

Anyone who needs food assistance can call 2-1-1 or look at the food bank’s food locator tool.

Households with pregnant individual(s) or children under the age of 5:

If someone in your household is pregnant or under the age of 5, WIC can help connect you to food resources.

Learn more about WIC at and, if you are interested in WIC resources, fill out the pre-application on that page.

Additional Resources

Medicaid and CHIP

Community Care Behavioral Health is available to assist members and providers with eligibility questions and support. Members can call 1-844-488-5336. Providers can call 1-888-251-2224.


Just Harvest can help people apply for SNAP, as well as other benefits.

For more information about SNAP Emergency Allotments, the February change, and how to report changes to benefits, visit

Food Resources in Allegheny County

ELRC Region 5 has curated a list of food resources provided by organizations in Allegheny County.

To find the food list, visit


February 9, 2023

Shapiro Administration Urges CHIP Recipients To Update Contact Information

The Shapiro Administration and the Department of Human Services (DHS) is urging anyone enrolled in Pennsylvania’s Medicaid program, also known as Medical Assistance (MA), to update their contact information.

Under new federal law, continuous MA eligibility will end on April 1, 2023. By keeping contact information up-to-date, recipients of MA and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) will receive timely, necessary updates about their coverage and benefits.

About Changes Medicaid Eligibility

Changes to MA eligibility come following passage of the federal Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023. These changes force states to resume normal MA renewal determination processes after April 1, 2023. Prior to this passage, pandemic aid allowed individuals to remain enrolled in MA, even if they became ineligible.

No one will lose their health coverage without having an opportunity to complete a renewal. Renewals will be completed over 12 months, with March renewals being first affected by the end of continuous coverage.

If a person is found ineligible for their current coverage, their MA coverage will end. Additionally, if a person does not complete their renewal on time, their coverage will end.

Government employees will direct those who become ineligible for coverage to other sources of affordable medical coverage, like CHIP and Pennie, Pennsylvania’s health and dental insurance marketplace.

Preparing for Renewals

Individuals can find the timeline for their renewal on COMPASS or the myCOMPASS PA mobile app.

Anyone can set up a COMPASS account. If they have a mobile device, they can download the myCOMPASS PA mobile app for free.

Instructional videos on downloading and using the myCOMPASS PA app are available on DHS’s YouTube channel.

Those without computer or mobile access can call DHS’ Customer Service Center at 1-877-395-8930 or 215-560-7226. The Customer Service Center is open Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. These individuals also have the option to visit their local County Assistance Office.

Updating Contact Information

Pennsylvanians whose contact information or personal circumstances have changed can use COMPASS to make the following updates to their case file at any time:

  • Changes to the number of people living in your household
  • Changes to your email address
  • Changes to your phone number
  • Changes to your mailing address

COMPASS also allows users to sign up to receive e-notifications about their benefits. Additionally, DHS encourages Pennsylvanians to opt-in to text messages to receive information about their benefits.

Keeping information up to date will help Pennsylvanians receive reminders about their annual benefit renewal quickly so they can prevent an avoidable lapse in coverage or services.

Medicaid recipients can update their contact information on the COMPASS website.

Learn More

If you sign up to receive text messages and receive a text from the number 1-833-648-1964, it is not a scam. Messages sent by DHS via text will never ask you for personal information, and you should not provide it. These are intended to be reminders about your benefits and other important information about programs administered by DHS and the federal government.

DHS, along with other agencies across the Commonwealth, will continue to conduct outreach, informing MA recipients of these upcoming changes via mail, text, email, and phone calls.

For more information on the end of continuous coverage for MA and CHIP, visit the DHS website.


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.


April 17, 2020

CHIP Will Maintain Enrollment During COVID-19 Crisis

On April 15, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) announced that it is “making temporary changes to Pennsylvania’s Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to keep families enrolled in CHIP for the duration of the public health emergency and to ease access to medical services for children being screened or receiving treatment for COVID-19.

What is CHIP?

The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is Pennsylvania’s program to provide health insurance to uninsured children and teens who are not eligible for or enrolled in Medical Assistance. For most families, the program is free. Families with incomes above the free CHIP limits pay low monthly premiums and copays for some services.

CHIP covers any uninsured child or teen up to the age of 19 and guarantees 12 months of coverage unless the family no longer meets basic eligibility requirements. There is not a waiting list to enroll in the program. Caregivers must renew their coverage every year to continue receiving services. To learn more and apply, visit the CHIP webpage.

Included Changes

The following changes to CHIP will be in effect until the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency:

    • Families will not be denied or disenrolled from coverage for administrative or financial reasons. An example of an administrative reason would be not being able to provide proof of income.
    • Families will not pay a copay for services that are for COVID-19 screenings, testing, or treatment.
    • Families who cannot provide paperwork to verify information on an application or renewal can provide self-attestation of information by signing the application or renewal.
    • Families will be given more time to pay premiums, if needed.

These changes were made due to the economic and financial hardship that many families across the Commonwealth are experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, families must still provide verification of information provided on an application and are still responsible for copays for services not related to COVID-19.

Families will still be required to pay premiums, if applicable. However, if a family is unable to pay due to a decrease in or loss of income, that family must contact their managed care organization immediately and can request a reassessment because of an income change at any time.

More Information

For more information, read the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services’ full press release.


February 4, 2020

2020 Census | Count All Kids to Reinforce Early Education

Did you know that in 2010, five percent of children under the age of five weren’t counted in the 2010 Census? That’s roughly one million young children, the highest of any age group. To ensure all young children have access to high-quality, affordable early learning experiences, we must #CountAllKids in the upcoming 2020 Census.


The United States Census informs funding decisions for critical services and infrastructure in our communities, including the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP); the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Toddlers (WIC); and the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) to name a few. However, in the 2010 U.S. Census, there was an undercount of 25,197 children in Pennsylvania, resulting in the loss of nearly $44 million in federal funding. That’s roughly $1,746 lost for every child who wasn’t counted. Undercounts like this negatively impact Pennsylvania’s children and families, as social service programs are unable to provide services to all eligible families due to limited funding.

Why It Matters

In their report “The Road to Success Includes High-Quality Pre-K,” Pre-K for PA states that “high-quality, publicly funded pre-k programs prepare students for kindergarten and beyond by supporting the development of the whole child.” When a child is 3- or 4-years-old, they’re developing critical skills like problem-solving, emotional self-regulation, collaboration, and more. These social-emotional skills are what the Harvard Education Magazine calls an “on-ramp” to later academic success. In fact, Pre-K for PA states that “studies of children who were enrolled in high-quality social-emotional learning programs have shown that ‘[enrolled children] score, on average, 11 percentage points higher on academic tests than children who do not receive such instruction.'”

However, due to limited funding, “in nearly two out of three state Senate districts, less than half of eligible preschoolers attend a high-quality pre-k program. In half of the state House districts, less than 40 percent of eligible 3- and 4-year-olds are currently attending one.” Limited access to such programs is negatively impacting the lives of young children, as “children from low-income families are a year or more behind their more advantaged peers.”

One partial solution to these issues is to ensure that all kids are counted in the upcoming 2020 Census. While an accurate count may not entirely eliminate issues of access, quality, and affordability, it will ensure that Pennsylvania receives federal dollars needed to provide health and social services to eligible families in the Commonwealth. Will you help us raise awareness about the need to #CountAllKids!

Click here to view Pre-K for PA’s full report.

Available Tools

Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children

To help increase awareness about the 2020 Census, Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children developed a toolkit that features factsheets, posters, social media images, and social media post templates. In addition to the toolkit, Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children highlighted a list of resources for advocates, stakeholders, businesses, elected officials, military members, parents, caregivers, families, and people with disabilities. To access the full list, visit the Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children website.

2020 Census: Be Counted

2020 Census: Be Counted provides information and resources to Pittsburgh and Allegheny County residents about the upcoming U.S. Census. The website highlights important dates, census submission options, an example of the questionnaire, frequently asked questions (FAQs), and more. For organizations, the website offers a toolkit, email newsletter, mini-grants, and more.

Request a Mail-In Ballot

Pennsylvania is now offering two options community members can choose from to submit their vote if they are unable to get to the polls on election day, including a mail-in ballot and absentee ballot. Registered voters can submit either ballot via mail or in person at their county election office. To request a mail-in ballot, please complete the online application by clicking here.

Both mail-in and absentee voters will receive a ballot in the mail to complete and return to their county election office by 8 p.m. on election day.

More Information

If you’re interested in learning more about the 2020 Census, read our “Count All Kids in the 2020 Census” news post. The post features additional resources and information about who counts, submitting your data, safety, confidentiality, and more.

*Information provided by Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, Pre-K for PA, and the United States Census Bureau


August 2, 2019

National Immunization Awareness Month

Immunizations (also called shots or vaccinations) help keep us healthy and safe from serious diseases. As August is National Immunization Awareness Month, take this time to check in on which shots you or your child needs and when to get them.


Vaccinations can prevent serious diseases like the flu, measles, and pneumonia. As an example, at age 6 months and older, everyone is highly encouraged to get a flu shot every year. However, many other shots work best when they are administered at certain ages.

Talk to your doctor or nurse to make sure that everyone in your family gets the shots they need and use the resources below for access to more information:


If you can’t afford vaccinations for your child, the PA Vaccines for Children Program (VFC) provides vaccinations at no cost to children who might not otherwise receive them. You can also apply for the PA Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) which includes coverage of vaccinations.

For information on the VFC program, call 1.888.646.6864.

For information on CHIP, call 1.800.986.5437.

Information provided by The Pennsylvania Key


December 20, 2018

OCDEL Reports Progress on Infant/Toddler Policies

In 2017, the PA Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) and stakeholders completed a policy scan with National State Capacity Building Center that identified short, medium, and long-term policy goals to support infants and toddlers in Pennsylvania.

Goal Progress

OCDEL is proud to report progress on those goals:

Short-Term Goal

The short-term goal to “adopt a shared definition of relationship-based care” across the ECE system is underway. OCDEL and Early Learning Resource Center (ELRC) staff, in partnership with the National Center on Parent, Family, and Community Engagement, are focusing on Relationship-Based Competencies and developing shared definitions and language across systems.

Medium-Term Goal

The medium-term goal is to “develop a triaging protocol that creates a system akin to Early Head Start that will connect families of infants and toddlers in child care with comprehensive health (including oral) and family support services in their community.” This goal is reflected in the work of the ELRCs which are charged with ensuring all families have access to needed services beyond child care, such as CHIP, WIC, and family supports, including home visiting.

Long-Term Goal

The long-term goal is to “explore vouchers and contracts that fund the true cost of serving infants and toddlers.” Through the Infant/Toddler Contracted Slot Pilot, OCDEL is piloting contracted slots for infants and toddlers in Keystone STAR 3 and 4 programs. The pilot seeks to understand how contracted slots can support continuity of care for infants, toddlers, and their families and the financial impact on high-quality providers interested in seeking financial stability for the classrooms serving their youngest learners.

More Information

Additional details will be released in later editions of the PA Early Ed News.

*Information provided by the PA Early Ed News