News

October 20, 2021

2021 Children’s Mental Health Report

In light of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Child Mind Institute recently released a report on children’s mental health. This report examines ongoing research, including a survey of thousands of parents conducted by Child Mind Institute.

Additional Information

Key takeaways from the report include:

  • Children’s moods during the pandemic were most closely related to the lifestyle changes they’d experienced.
  • Children’s mental health three months before the pandemic began was the factor more closely correlated with their mental health during the pandemic.
  • There is a connection between economic hardship and mental health outcomes.

The full report can be accessed on the Child Mind Institute website. Additionally, tips for caregivers and educators on how to support mental health and learning are available for download.

News

September 30, 2021

Ask a Health Care Provider

Join the Pittsburgh Learning Collaborative and the Pittsburgh Community Vaccine Collaborative for an evening with medical professionals to discuss back-to-school questions surrounding COVID-19 safety, mitigation, and vaccines.

More Information

The presentation will be multilingual in Spanish, French, Russian, Swahili, Arabic, and English. If you need a different language/interpreter please email Dr. Kait Brennan at kaitlynbrennan88@gmail.com who can assist with accommodations.

To register for this virtual event, please complete the online registration form.

News

September 29, 2021

Who Is Eligible for a COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shot?

According to the CDC, data from a small clinical trial show that a Pfizer-BioNTech booster shot increased the immune response in trial participants who finished their primary series 6 months earlier. With an increased immune response, people should have improved protection against COVID-19, including the Delta variant.

Eligibility

COVID-19 Vaccine booster shots are available for the following Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine recipients who completed their initial series at least 6 months ago:

Schedule an Appointment

Search vaccines.gov, text your ZIP code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233 to find locations near you. Additionally, you may:

  • Check your local pharmacy’s website to see if vaccination walk-ins or appointments are available.
  • Contact your state or local health department for more information.

Additional Information

For additional information related to COVID-19, visit the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website.

News

March 25, 2021

Homewood Father Funds His Son’s Future

Through the Homewood Early Learning Hub & Family Center, families participated in Fund My Future – a program in which all families in Pennsylvania save for college and other post-secondary goals. This program provides sessions for caregivers related to financial goals and open savings accounts for their children. Fund My Future offers monthly prizes as an incentive for participating in this program.

Mark, a single father of 11-year-old Elijah, completed the Fund My Future Three-Part Saving Series in December 2020. He was a participant of the first cohort hosted by the Homewood Early Learning Hub and Family Center, where he is involved in the weekly program, Fathers Trying Together.

Through Fund My Future, Mark learned about opening a PA529 account for his son, accessing his credit reports during the COVID-19 pandemic, how to receive one-on-one financial counseling, and the importance of saving for his son. In an interview with Fund My Future, he stated that he “will use the information he learned to help his son manage his money so that when he gets older he will have developed the habit of saving and managing money.”

More Information

For more information about The Homewood Early Learning Hub and Family Center and participating in Fathers Trying Together, please visit the Trying Together website.

 

News

March 12, 2021

COVID-19 Vaccine for Relative-Neighbor Child Care Providers

Relative-neighbor child care providers are eligible to sign up to receive the COVID-19 vaccine under the Pennsylvania Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 Vaccine special initiative, in which child care program workers will be among the first individuals in the state eligible to receive the one-dose vaccine.

About

The Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) is asking all relative-neighbor child care providers who would like to receive the J&J vaccine to register to receive the vaccine by submitting a registration request form no later than March 26, 2021.

NOTE: Completion of the form does not guarantee a vaccine.

This form will collect contact information for scheduling purposes. By providing this information, providers acknowledge it may be shared with the Department of Health, Department of Human Services and their partners including retail pharmacy staff for the purpose of scheduling vaccine appointments.

The J&J vaccine must not be administered to individuals who have received full or partial Moderna or Pfizer vaccines. It is recommended individuals consult their physician prior to receiving any vaccination.

Vaccines for Pregnant Women

In the coming weeks, UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital will be holding special vaccination clinics for pregnant women only. Appointments are required.

You must be 18 years old or older to receive a vaccine. You do not need to be a UMPC patient to qualify. To schedule an appointment at one of UPMC Magee’s clinics for pregnant women, call 833.653.0519. COVID-19 vaccination is provided at no cost to the patient.

More Information

News

February 17, 2021

Child Care Providers and State Legislators Discuss Policy Changes

Trying Together and child care providers joined Pennsylvania state policymakers on Tuesday, February 16, 2021 to voice their concerns about recent state-level program and policy changes that have widely destabilized the child care sector.  

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, child care subsidy payments in Pennsylvania were modified so reimbursement was based on enrollment versus attendance. At the time, this measure was taken to ensure financial stability as child care providers were encountering complex challenges that exceeded the scope of their normal operations, including mandated closures. In September 2020, at Governor Tom Wolf’s direction, the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) restored the original subsidy payment practices from enrollment-based back to attendance-based, which has had a devastating effect since many programs continue to be under-enrolled due to COVID-19.

“At this point we are at 66% of our pre-COVID enrollment. This loss of about 35% equates to more than $1.5 million in tuition. We are feeling it big time,” said Jason Kunzman, Chief Program Officer, Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh. “We believe that the primary driver in not being able to admit more children into our programs is actually the difficulty we’ve experienced in trying to recruit qualified staff. It goes without saying that operating in a COVID environment, everything is harder. What used to take one person to do now takes three people…this has been a real hardship to the entire industry.  

“[We need] more sustainable, longer-lasting changes to the financial model that can make high-quality  care accessible to as many families as possible while allowing providers to pay their educators a livable wage.”

To compound these constraints, OCDEL repurposed the Education & Retention Award (ERA) for STAR 3 and STAR 4 high-quality educators to a Pandemic Relief Award (PRA) in December 2020, providing $600 to 33,000 child care employees across the state with many programs waitlisted due to a lack of funds. 

Currently in Pennsylvania, the average wage of a child care professional is $9.71 per hour with 50% of them receiving government benefits.

“Many of my staff are single moms or low-income who qualify for subsidies themselves… They returned to work during a pandemic, they risked their lives and their family’s lives for the greater good of the Pennsylvania economy, and the money was taken from them,” said Tracy O’Connell, Child Care Director, Catholic Youth Association. “To take away the only extra money these hardworking, dedicated teachers earn each year – during the year they deserve it the most – is heartless. There has to be a way to keep the ERA money for what it is designed to do, and that is to retain and reward degreed staff.”

Since the ERA typically awarded more funds than this to its recipients, the loss of the ERA further disincentivizes high-quality educators to remain in the field. Essentially, Pennsylvania doesn’t have the funds to meet the full needs of child care providers due to this change.

Senator Jay Costa, Senate Minority Leader (D-Allegheny), said child care providers are faced with a “catch-22” if the ERA is permanently taken away. 

STARS requires you to have degreed  folks but you don’t have money to retain them because [their money is being taken away],” Senator Costa said. “We shouldn’t tie your hands behind your back to try to have you meet standards that let people know the quality of service that you’re providing because here are criteria you have to meet. Both Democrats and Republicans are committed to working with you on this.” 

The Commonwealth will receive $302 million in federal dollars to support child care via the Child Care & Development Block Grant (CCDBG) funds from the most recent COVID-19 relief package.

Senator Lindsey Williams, Education – Minority Chair (D-Allegheny), said it’s important to invest in early childhood education.

It’s heartbreaking that we as a legislature haven’t found a way as of yet to take care of the child care workforce because that’s the only way we get our economy going,” she said. “You have my support to use existing federal dollars, hopefully future federal dollars and whatever state funding we can come up with to actually address these policy issues…so that it’s a big structural change on how we fund child care.” 

Senator Camera Bartolotta, Labor & Industry, Chair (R- Beaver, Greene, Washington) also stressed that the early childhood education workforce is essential to the state’s economic recovery.

“It is vital – it is imperative – that we get folks back to work. When we are opening our economy safely, these parents need their kids to be in a safe, healthy learning environment,” she said. “We’ve got to make sure that all of these institutions stay healthy economically as well as physically. That’s something that we have to prioritize. We are not going to open our economy if parents don’t have a safe place for their kids to go.”

The child care providers, families, and early learning advocates throughout the state like Trying Together look forward to the concerns discussed during yesterday’s call being addressed and resolved.

Read More

Child Care Worker Subsidy Replaced An Award That Providers Say Incentivized Staff Higher Education, 90.5 WESA

Child Care Facilities Call On Pennsylvania Lawmakers For Financial Assistance, KDKA-TV

Child care providers say Pa. policy shifts are causing financial strain, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Child care facilities struggling, PublicSource

News

February 11, 2021

Parent Town Hall On COVID Safety (Virtual)

Are you ready to send your children back to child care, but have questions about COVID-19 precautions? Attend “Going Back to Child Care: Parent Town Hall on COVID Safety” to learn the facts so you can make the right decision for yourself and your family.

About

The goal of this Town Hall is to provide families with information (and reassurance) about returning to child care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Parents and caregivers are encouraged to submit their questions about going back to child care as it relates to COVID-19 safety. Questions will be accepted through Monday, February 8 at 5 p.m. If you miss that deadline, you can submit your questions live during the event.

Featured Presenters

The Town Hall will feature the following presenters:

    • Gail Carter-Hamilton, MSN, RN, CSN – Pediatric Resource Manager, Philadelphia Department of Public Health
    • Tanya Dhingra, MPH – Pediatric Resource Coordinator, Philadelphia Department of Public Health
    • Dr. Susan Coffin, MD, MPH – CHOP Policy Lab
    • Julianne Burns, MD, MSCE, Medical Specialist, COVID-19 Immunization Program, Division of Disease Control, Philadelphia Department of Public Health
    • Nicole Spector, MSN, CRNP, Covid-19 Immunization Program Nurse Practitioner, Division of Disease Control, Philadelphia Department of Public Health
    • Sean Perkins, Chief of Early Childhood Education, Philadelphia Office of Children and Families
    • Diane Getzinger, Assistant Director of Provider/STARS, ELRC Region 18, Philadelphia County
    • Michelle Linder-Coates, Executive Director, Office of Early Childhood, School District of Philadelphia
    • Mai Miksic, Early Childhood Policy Director, Public Citizens for Children and Youth

Registration

This event will take place virtually on Zoom and Facebook Live. To register and submit your question, complete the online registration form. To watch live on Facebook, visit the Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY) Facebook page.

Share this flyer with your network.

News

January 29, 2021

Centering Women in Economic Recovery Efforts

Join The Salon from January 25 – 29, 2021 for “Centering Women in Economic Recovery” to learn about the regional impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women in the workforce.

About

Centering Women in Economic Recovery is a free five-day lunchtime series with regional female thought leaders from organizations with deep expertise in policy, business, community, public sector, and education. Each day at noon, panelists will explore the regional impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women in the workforce and discuss the policies and actions needed to build a more female-forward infrastructure that supports equity for working women.

Featured Sessions

State & Federal Policy Response

Monday, January 25, 2021  |  12:00 p.m.
Moderator: Heather Arnet, Women and Girls Foundation

Panelists include:

    • Megan Nestor, Fourth Economy
    • Carol Joyner, Family Values@Work
    • Claire Ewing-Nelson, National Women’s Law Center
    • Rochelle Jackson, Black Women’s Policy Agenda
    • Rosamaria Cristello, Latina Community Center

Private & Business Response

Tuesday, January 26, 2021  |  12:00 p.m.
Moderator: Jessica Brooks, Pittsburgh Business Group on Health

Panelists include:

    • Sabrina Saunders, Vibrant Pittsburgh
    • Katherine Kellaman, Port Authority of Allegheny County
    • Carrie Riggle, First Commonwealth Bank
    • Anne Gargas, Torchlight

Government & Public Sector Response

Wednesday, January 27, 2021  |  12:00 p.m.
Moderator: Anne Sekula, The Salon

Panelists include:

    • Anu Jain, City of Pittsburgh GEC / Workforce Equity Initiative
    • Moriah Hathaway, Pennsylvania Governor’s Commission on Women

Community & Nonprofit Response

Thursday, January 28, 2021  |  12:00 p.m.
Moderator: Michelle Pagano Heck, Nonprofit Talent

Panelists include:

    • Angela Reynolds, YWCA
    • Bobbi Watt Greer, The United Way of Southwest PA
    • Tanya Volkes Mallory, Dress for Success
    • Michelle McMurray, The Pittsburgh Foundation

Child Care & K-12 Public Education Response

Friday, January 29, 2021  |  12:00 p.m.
Moderator: Cara Cimminilo, Trying Together

Panelists include:

    • Heather Hopson, Single Mom Defined
    • Muffy Mendoza Brown, Brown Mommas
    • Megan Rose, Center for Women Pittsburgh

Registration

To register, complete the online registration form. Share this flyer with your network.

News

January 28, 2021

Virtual Conference: Finding Joy through Playful Learning

Finding Joy through Playful Learning aims to bring together educators, researchers, policymakers, and practitioners who have a variety of experiences related to education, play, and learning. The conference will take place via Zoom over the course of several days covering six topics related to playful learning. The goal is to generate dialogue among different stakeholders and share best practices to support children and families in learning through play.

About

Join Playful Learning Landscapes Action NetworkPlayful Pittsburgh Collaborative, and Trying Together in February for a virtual conference bringing together educators, researchers, policymakers, and practitioners to discuss and share best practices to support children and families in learning through play.

Act 48 and PQAS credits are available. PPID and PD Registry numbers will be collected during the sessions. The following discount code is available for early educators who wish to participate in individual sessions or the entire series:

  • EDU-ALL for $25 price for all six workshops

  • EDU-CHOOSE for $5/per workshop

Available Sessions

  • Rethinking Education During and Post COVID-19
    Wednesday, February 3, 2021 | 3 – 5 p.m.

    Join featured speakers Dr. Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Dr. Scott Miller, and the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy for discussions of how playful learning can change education during and after COVID-19. Featured Speakers: Dr. Kathy Hirsh-Pasek (Temple University, Brookings Institution), Scott Miller (Avonworth Primary Center), and Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy.

  • How Play Can Improve Mental Health and Wellbeing
    Thursday, February 4, 2021 | 9 – 11 a.m.

    Hear from Sarah Grubb, Cindy Eggleton, and Sheba Gittens about play’s role in mental health and wellbeing. Featured Speakers: Cindy Eggleton (Brilliant Detroit), Sarah Grubb (ELRC Region 5), and Sheba Gittens (University of Pittsburgh).

  • Addressing Equity Issues Through Playful Learning
    Thursday, February 4, 2021 | 3 – 5 p.m.

    Dr. Nikole Hollins-Sims and Dr. Mandy McGuire will present their work on using play and playful learning to address inequity. Featured Speakers: Dr. Nikole Hollins-Sims (PaTTAN) and Dr. Mandy McGuire (University of Texas at Dallas).

  • Activating Communities Around Playful Learning
    Tuesday, February 9, 2021 | 3 – 5 p.m.

    Ariana Brazier, Justin Forzano, Shari Hersh, Gamar Markarian, and Sarah Siplak, will discuss what it means to activate communities and how their communities inform the work they do. Featured Speakers: Ariana Brazier (ATL Parent Like a Boss), Justin Forzano (Open Field), Shari Hersh (Mural Arts), Gamar Markarian (New School), and Sarah Siplak (Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative).

  • Using Technology to Strengthen the Way We Learn and Play
    Wednesday, February 10, 2021 | 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

    Learn about technologies and applications from Katie Gullone, Megan Rooney, Javier Maisonet, and Project Rangeet. Featured Speakers: Elias Blinkoff (Temple Infant & Child Lab), Katie Gullone (Trying Together), Javier Maisonet (Math Talk), Simran Mulchandani (Project Rangeet), and Megan Rooney (La Escuelita Arcoiris).

  • Replicable and Low-Cost Ideas for Playful Learning
    Wednesday, February 10, 2021 | 3 – 5 p.m.

    Explore low-cost and replicable ways to encourage playful learning from Shannon Merenstein, Amy Kronenberg, Rebecca Fabiano, and Aishwarya Narayana. Featured Speakers: Rebecca Fabiano (Fab Youth Philly), Amy Kronenberg (Learn to Earn Dayton), Shannon Merenstein (HATCH Art Studio), and Aishwarya Narayana (HUME).

Registration

To register, visit the online registration page. General Admission tickets cost $55 and include admission to all sessions. Single session registration is also available for $10 per session. Attendees will receive the Zoom link for each day’s session prior to the start of the event.

More Information

For questions, contact admin@playfullearninglandscapes.fun or 267.468.8610.

News

Centering Women in Economic Recovery Efforts

Join The Salon from January 25 – 29, 2021 for “Centering Women in Economic Recovery” to learn about the regional impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women in the workforce.

About

Centering Women in Economic Recovery is a free five-day lunchtime series with regional female thought leaders from organizations with deep expertise in policy, business, community, public sector, and education. Each day at noon, panelists will explore the regional impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women in the workforce and discuss the policies and actions needed to build a more female-forward infrastructure that supports equity for working women.

Featured Sessions

State & Federal Policy Response

Monday, January 25, 2021  |  12:00 p.m.
Moderator: Heather Arnet, Women and Girls Foundation

Panelists include:

    • Megan Nestor, Fourth Economy
    • Carol Joyner, Family Values@Work
    • Claire Ewing-Nelson, National Women’s Law Center
    • Rochelle Jackson, Black Women’s Policy Agenda
    • Rosamaria Cristello, Latina Community Center

Private & Business Response

Tuesday, January 26, 2021  |  12:00 p.m.
Moderator: Jessica Brooks, Pittsburgh Business Group on Health

Panelists include:

    • Sabrina Saunders, Vibrant Pittsburgh
    • Katherine Kellaman, Port Authority of Allegheny County
    • Carrie Riggle, First Commonwealth Bank
    • Anne Gargas, Torchlight

Government & Public Sector Response

Wednesday, January 27, 2021  |  12:00 p.m.
Moderator: Anne Sekula, The Salon

Panelists include:

    • Anu Jain, City of Pittsburgh GEC / Workforce Equity Initiative
    • Moriah Hathaway, Pennsylvania Governor’s Commission on Women

Community & Nonprofit Response

Thursday, January 28, 2021  |  12:00 p.m.
Moderator: Michelle Pagano Heck, Nonprofit Talent

Panelists include:

    • Angela Reynolds, YWCA
    • Bobbi Watt Greer, The United Way of Southwest PA
    • Tanya Volkes Mallory, Dress for Success
    • Michelle McMurray, The Pittsburgh Foundation

Child Care & K-12 Public Education Response

Friday, January 29, 2021  |  12:00 p.m.
Moderator: Cara Cimminilo, Trying Together

Panelists include:

    • Heather Hopson, Single Mom Defined
    • Muffy Mendoza Brown, Brown Mommas
    • Megan Rose, Center for Women Pittsburgh

Registration

To register, complete the online registration form. Share this flyer with your network.