News

September 17, 2020

Allegheny County Infant/Toddler Early Intervention Plan

In September 2020, the Allegheny County Department of Human Services Office of Behavioral Health released a plan and guidance on in-person Early Intervention (EI) services for infants and toddlers in the county. These documents were developed to inform EI program providers and participants of the strategies that will be implemented to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 as in-person services resume.

About

Because in-person Early Intervention services are provided in people’s homes and communities, the successful implementation of in-person services relies heavily on the team effort or EI professionals and participating families to follow the health and safety guidelines detailed in the Allegheny County Infant/Toddler Early Intervention Health and Safety Plan for Resuming In-Person Services. Program staff will work with families to offer quality Early Intervention services in the safest manner feasible.

In addition to this plan, Allegheny County EI Providers and the EI SC Entity are expected to follow the Allegheny County Guidance for Conducting In-Person Infant/Toddler Early Intervention Services which outlines how and when EI in-person service provision will be carried out in Allegheny County during the Red, Yellow, and Green phases of reopening in Pennsylvania.

These plans and guidelines were informed by existing best practice guidance from numerous sources, including the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL), the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the Pennsylvania Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Office of Governor Tom Wolf, and local Allegheny County government officials.

Featured Topics

The Allegheny County Infant/Toddler Early Intervention Health and Safety Plan for Resuming In-Person Services features information on numerous topics, including the following:

    • required training and education;
    • health screenings and responses;
    • conducting in-person visits; and
    • EI Intervention Therapist and Provider caseload and staffing reviews.

More Information

For more information, read the full plan and guidance. Early Intervention providers are encouraged to share this document and its content on their websites and social media platforms.

News

September 10, 2020

COVID-19’s Impact on Early Childhood and ACEs

Are you interested in hearing guidance from experts on early childhood development, adverse childhood experiences, and the impact of COVID-19 on children? Join the NIHCM Foundation on September 10 for their webinar, “Protecting Our Children: COVID-19’s Impact on Early Childhood and ACEs.”

About

Although most children are not at high risk for contracting COVID-19, the pandemic has disrupted their lives and exacerbated challenges to children’s health and well-being. This webinar will convene experts to provide information and guidance on early childhood development, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), and the impact of COVID-19 on children.

Speakers will discuss the following topics:

    • the importance of early childhood experiences in lifelong health and how adversity affects both the developing brain and other physiological systems;
    • what ACEs initiatives are doing to respond to COVID-19 and the opportunities and challenges the pandemic has produced for professionals in the field; and
    • lessons from a health plan’s investment in programming that addresses ACEs, including education on ACEs for teachers, policymakers, and health care professionals.

Registration

To learn more and register, visit the event webpage.

News

September 2, 2020

Facts about COVID-19 and Quality Child Care

Are you looking to access child care services during the COVID-19 health crisis? Join the Pennsylvania Child Care Association on September 2 for their webinar, “Facts about COVID-19 and High-Quality Child Care.”

About

Child care is highly regulated in Pennsylvania and the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) has responded to COVID-19 with updated regulations and guidelines to keep children and providers safe. However, some of these are suggestions, not requirements; some clash with best practices for child development; and some are difficult to implement with very young children.

In this webinar, participants will learn about the pros and cons of different child care settings, what to expect from child care providers, and which questions to ask if you’re still searching for one that’s right for you and your child. The session will feature Susan Coffin, MD, MPH, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s leading expert of COVID-19 and a great resource in creating CHOP’s FAQ for centers and families; a parent; and child care providers from both center-based and home-based settings.

Register

This webinar is best suited for parents and caretakers of children birth to age five. To register, visit the event webpage.

Submit A Question

You may ask questions in advance (anonymously if you prefer) by emailing shawn.towey@pacca.org, or you can enter them in the chatbox during the session.

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News

August 11, 2020

Free Virtual PD Sessions Available

Are you interested in hearing guidance from child development experts? Join Trying Together on August 19 and September 2 for our free virtual professional development sessions! Each session will offer one PQAS credit hour.

Both sessions are a part of our interactive Connections and Conversations Virtual Check-In series that features guidance from child development experts, information on the highlighted topic, and opportunities for early learning professionals to share questions, experiences, and expertise.

Available Sessions

    • Magda Gerber’s Philosophy of Care for Infants & Toddlers
      Wednesday, August 19, 2020  |  6 – 7 p.m.

      Join Trying Together on August 19 to explore the core principles of Magda Gerber’s RIE philosophical approach to educaring for infants and toddlers in the early childhood setting. Participants will have an opportunity to engage in conversations around developmentally appropriate practice for infants and toddlers while reflecting on how to best create a safe, challenging, predictable environment for all children.

    • Supporting Children’s Emotional Wellness with Digital Technologies
      Wednesday, September 2, 2020  |  6 – 7 p.m.

      More than ever before, early childhood practitioners play a critical role in supporting children’s social and emotional wellness. Join Trying Together on September 2 for a conversation on promoting children’s communication skills and emotional development through the use of technology and media. Participants will engage in discussion and reflection on their current practice and the impact of COVID-19.

More Information

For questions or more information, please contact Rosie Hogan at rosie@tryingtogether.org.

News

IEPs and the 2020-21 School Year: What Families Need to Know

Are you the parent or caregiver of a student with an IEP? Join the PEAL Center on August 11 for the webinar, “Students with IEPs and the 2020-21 School Year: What Families Need to Know.”

About

On August 11, Carole Clancy, Director of the Bureau of Special Education at the Pennsylvania Department of Education, will join the PEAL Center for a live presentation to offer an overview of guidance being provided to schools regarding students with IEPs. Director Clancy will discuss the following:

    • COVID-19 compensatory services;
    • instructional days and hours;
    • the use of masks at schools; and
    • COVID-19’s impact on evaluation, re-evaluation, and delayed eligibility determinations.

Participants are encouraged to submit any questions they may have for the presenter in advance by completing this online form. Questions must be submitted no later than August 3, 2020.

Registration

This live event will be available on the PEAL Center Facebook page and will be recorded for those unable to attend. A webinar recording will be available on the Facebook event page after the session ends.

Training will be delivered in English, with Spanish and American Sign Language (ASL) translation available. Captioning in other languages is available if participants download the Microsoft Translator app.

More Information

For questions or more information, contact info@pealcenter.org or 1.866.950.1040.

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News

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.

News

July 17, 2020

New Summer Safety Brochure Available for Families

Thanks to the warm weather and sunshine, summer in Pennsylvania offers plenty of opportunities to get outside, get active, and enjoy family activities. By heeding some simple tips, parents and caregivers can ensure that summer is both safe and fun!

New Brochure Available

The Allegheny County Health Department and Allegheny County Department of Human Services developed a new Summer Safety brochure, featuring important information and tips on how families can enjoy summer while staying safe. The brochure includes tips on the following topics:

    • bug bites and stings;
    • safety in the sun;
    • safety on wheels;
    • water safety;
    • car safety;
    • chemical and poison safety;
    • and more.

To view the full list of tips, download the brochure.

More Information

For more information about summer safety, visit the National Safety Council’s Summer Safety page.

News

July 10, 2020

COVID-19: Updated Guidance for Child Care Programs

To maintain the health and safety of their staff and the families they serve, all child care facilities and programs that continue to remain open or that are preparing to reopen in Pennsylvania should follow the guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH). With this, programs are highly encouraged to implement additional health and safety procedures as soon as possible.

About

The Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) released a revised announcement that outlines recommended steps child care providers can take to mitigate the impact of COVID-19. This guidance was developed based on recommendations from the CDC and the DOH and is subject to change. To access the full list of recommendations, read Announcement: C-20-06 Revised: Interim Guidance for Certified Child Care Facilities operating during the Novel Coronavirus Pandemic.

Additionally, in Announcement C-20-08: COVID-19 Operations for Licensed Child Care, OCDEL issued clarification regarding health and safety compliance during the COVID-19 pandemic to licensed child care providers and child care certification representatives employed by the Department of Human Service (DHS).

For examples of required and recommended policies and procedures, continue reading below.

Required Procedures

Announcement C-20-08: COVID-19 Operations for Licensed Child Care states that child care providers are required to do the following:

    • Child care staff must wear face coverings indoors; they must also wear face coverings outside where staff are unable to maintain a six-foot distance from others unless a medical reason prevents the staff from wearing a face covering. This includes anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the face covering without assistance.
    • Child care programs must have a written health and safety plan that aligns with CDC guidance to minimize the risks of COVID-19. The safety plan must be communicated to staff and enrolled families. At a minimum, the safety plan must address screening procedures; child drop-off and pick-up policies; sick policies; mask policies; and cleaning and sanitation procedures. Providers can see the “Child Care Facility COVID-19 Health and Safety Plan Template” for developing a health and safety plan.
    • Child care programs must adhere to the reporting of suspected or confirmed cases of enrolled children or staff with COVID-19 and complying with follow-up guidance pertaining to remediation, quarantine, and directive for temporary closure to address additional cleaning and sanitation.

Effective July 17, 2020, child care certification representatives will cite child care programs operating out of compliance with the previously described Critical Elements derived from CDC guidance. Child care programs failing to comply with acceptable plans of correction may be subject to further action that impacts the child care programs’ Certificate of Compliance, ability to continue to operate, and eligibility for distributions of supplemental financial supports.

For more information, view the full announcement or FAQ document.

Drop-Off and Arrival Procedures

Child care programs are strongly recommended to:

    • greet children outside as they arrive;
    • stagger arrival and drop-off times and plan to limit direct contact with parents as much as possible;
    • post signage in drop-off and arrival areas to remind staff and children to keep six feet of distance whenever feasible; and
    • set up hand hygiene stations at the entrance of the facility so children, families, and staff can clean their hands before they enter.
Screening Procedures

The best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to prevent it from getting inside the facility. Child care providers should:

    • conduct a daily health screening of any person entering the building, including children, staff, family members, and other visitors to identify symptoms, diagnosis, or exposure to COVID-19 (any person with a fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or above, or other signs of illness, should not be admitted into the facility);
    • not allow staff and children to enter the child care facility if they have tested positive for COVID-19, are showing symptoms, or have had potential exposure to a person with COVID-19; and
    • immediately isolate a child or staff member that starts to display symptoms and send them (and any family members) home as soon as possible.
Routine Disinfecting and Sanitation

To reduce the spread of COVID-19 in their program, child care providers should:

    • post signs in highly visible locations that promote everyday protective measures and describe how to stop the spread of COVID-19 (washing hands, wearing masks, disinfecting, etc.);
    • develop a schedule for cleaning and disinfecting;
    • routinely clean, sanitize, and disinfect surfaces and objects that are frequently touched (toys, games, tables, toilet training potties, chairs, nap pads, etc.); and
    • keep all cleaning materials secure and out of reach of children.
Bedding and Toys

Child care providers should:

    • not use toys and bedding that cannot be washed, cleaned, and sanitized;
    • not share toys with other groups of infants and toddlers unless they have been properly washed and sanitized before being moved from one group to the other;
    • set toys that need to be cleaned aside and out of children’s reach;
    • keep each child’s bedding separate and stored in individually labeled bins, cubbies, or bags; and
    • clean bedding that touches a child’s skin weekly or before use by another child.
Face Masks

Child care staff are required to wear cloth face coverings. Children two years old and older are required to wear a face covering unless the child fits one of the exceptions included in Section 3 of the Order of the Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health Order for Universal Face Coverings.

    • If a child is outdoors and is able to consistently maintain a social distance of at least six feet from others who are not a part of their household, they do not need to wear a mask.
    • If a parent, guardian, or responsible person has been unable to place a face covering safely on a child’s face, they should not do so.
    • If a child two years old or older is unable to remove a face covering without assistance, the child is not required to wear one.
Social Distancing

If possible, child care providers should:

    • limit individual classes to the same group of children and same child care providers each day;
    • consider creating a separate classroom or group for the children of healthcare workers or other first responders;
    • limit the mixing of children, such as staggering playground times and keeping groups separate during special activities; and
    • maintain space between each child’s naptime mat or crib (ideally six feet or more) and place children head to toe during naptime to reduce potential virus spread.

More Information

For additional information, including information on what to do if a person at your facility tests positive for COVID-19 or is exposed to someone with COVID-19, view the full guidance from OCDEL.

To stay up-to-date on the most recent COVID-19 information, visit the Department of Health or Centers for Disease Prevention and Control websites.

News

June 9, 2020

COVID-19

As of June 9, 2020 at 12 p.m., the Pennsylvania Department of Health has stated that there are 76,436 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the Commonwealth, including 2,027 positive cases in Allegheny County. For a full breakdown of affected counties, visit health.pa.gov.

While positive cases have been confirmed, it’s important for community members to remain calm and take precautionary measures to reduce your likelihood of infection.


COVID-19 Resources

To best support these community members and the young children in their lives, Trying Together has created two resource lists, featuring helpful resources that families and educators can use to maneuver this difficult time. Click the links below for more COVID-19 information.


Guidance for Pennsylvanians

As of June 5, there are 33 counties in the yellow phase and 34 counties in the green phase of reopening. On Friday, June 12 at 12:01 a.m., 12 counties currently in the yellow phase will be moving into the green phase. For information about work, congregate setting, and social restrictions, please review Governor Wolf’s Process to Reopen Pennsylvania.

Counties in the Green Phase

Counties in the green phase of reopening include Allegheny, Armstrong, Bedford, Blair, Bradford, Butler, Cambria, Cameron, Centre, Clarion, Clearfield, Clinton, Crawford, Elk, Fayette, Forest, Fulton, Greene, Indiana, Jefferson, Lawrence, Lycoming, McKean, Mercer, Montour, Potter, Snyder, Somerset, Sullivan, Tioga, Venango, Warren, Washington, and Westmoreland.

Counties in the Yellow Phase

Counties in the yellow phase of reopening include Adams, Beaver, Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Columbia, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Erie, Franklin, Huntingdon, Juniata, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Luzerne, Mifflin, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Northumberland, Perry, Philadelphia, Pike, Schuylkill, Susquehanna, Union, Wayne, Wyoming, and York.


What is COVID-19?

According to the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD), “COVID-19 is a disease caused by a new coronavirus not previously seen in humans.” While this strain of coronavirus is new, coronaviruses are actually a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others circulating among animals, including camels, cats, and bats. While it is rare for animal coronaviruses to infect people who are exposed to infected animals, it has happened in the past as seen with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).

Symptoms

As COVID-19 is a respiratory disease, common symptoms of infection include fever, dry cough, tiredness, shortness of breath, and difficulty breathing. However, WHO states that some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat, and diarrhea. After being infected with COVID-19, individuals generally display mild symptoms that begin gradually, but some people who become infected may not develop any symptoms at all and may feel healthy.

80 percent of the individuals who become infected recover from the disease without needing special treatment. However, one out of every six people who get COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Elderly individuals, immunocompromised individuals, and individuals with underlying medical conditions such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney diseases, hepatitis B, and cancer are particularly at risk of developing serious illness if infected with COVID-19. Because of this, it’s important to limit possible contamination and reduce the spread of the virus.

Currently, there are no vaccines or medications approved to prevent or treat COVID-19 and reported illnesses have ranged from mild to severe cases, including illness resulting in death. However, possible vaccines and drug treatments are currently being investigated through clinical trials.

How It Spreads

COVID-19 spreads through person-to-person contact (within about six feet) or by touching your mouth, nose, or eyes after coming into contact with surfaces that have been contaminated with respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. WHO states that “studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days.”

The risk of getting infected by COVID-19 depends on where you are and if there is an outbreak currently happening in that area. Individuals living in or visiting cities or areas that are experiencing an outbreak have a higher risk of becoming infected. There is a higher risk of infection and serious complications for elderly individuals, immunocompromised individuals, and individuals with underlying medical conditions. With this, WHO states that it’s important to “comply with any local restrictions on travel, movement, or large gatherings” and to cooperate with disease control efforts to reduce your risk and potential spread.

How to Protect Yourself and Others

Currently, the most effective ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19 to protect both yourself and others against infection are to:

    • avoid touching your face, nose, and mouth;
    • if water and soap are not available, sanitize your hands regularly with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol;
    • clean and disinfect commonly used items and frequently touched surfaces such as the items listed above with household cleaners and EPA-registered disinfectants that are appropriate for the surface, following the label directions appropriately;
    • practice social distancing from others, especially avoiding individuals who are exhibiting symptoms, coughing, or sneezing;
    • wear a face mask when shopping at essential businesses, visiting your health care provider, on public transportation, interacting with others at essential business, and when feeling sick, coughing, or sneezing; and
    • comply with any local restrictions and recommendations on travel, movement, or large gatherings.

Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website for more information on how to properly clean and disinfect the areas around you. While this resource is primarily intended for individuals and households with suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19, hygienic practices can help reduce the spread of the virus. Watch this video for proper handwashing techniques.

Resource for At-Risk Individuals

The CDC also has a resource highlighting precautions and preparation tips for individuals at risk of developing serious complications from COVID-19, such as elderly individuals, immunosuppressed individuals, and individuals with underlying medical conditions. Visit the CDC website to learn more. 

What to Do After Infection

If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, cough, and shortness of breath, please stay at home and contact your primary care provider to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19. If you are in Allegheny County, do not have a primary care provider, and are not sure if you need to be tested, please contact the Allegheny Health Department at 412.687.2243. If you need to seek immediate medical care, please call 911 or phone ahead before going to a doctor’s office or emergency department to ensure staff at these locations have time to prepare for your arrival.

If an infection is confirmed, health care professionals will assess whether the infected individual needs to be hospitalized or if they can be cared for at home in mandatory quarantine. If isolated at home, infected individuals will be monitored by staff from their local or state health department.

Until a healthcare provider says that you or the infected person can return to their normal activities, the CDC states that infected and potentially infected individuals should follow the following preventive measures:

    • stay at home except to get medical care (do not go to school, work, or public areas and avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxi services);
    • separate yourself from other people and animals in your home as much as possible, if possible;
    • if you must care for others or your pet while sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with them and wear a face mask;
    • call ahead before visiting your doctor, as they need to take steps to prepare to reduce spread and exposure;
    • wear a face mask when you are around other people and animals; and
    • cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your elbow, followed immediately by washing your hands with soap and water or sanitizing with an alcohol-based sanitizer.

For a full list of COVID-19 resources, preventative measures, and precautions, visit the CDC website.

More Information

For more information about COVID-19, visit the Allegheny County Health Department, World Health Organization (WHO), or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention websites.

*Information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, and Allegheny County Health Department

News

April 29, 2020

Guidance for Child Care Programs that Remain Open

The Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL), Bureau of Certification, in collaboration with the Pennsylvania Key, will be offering weekly webinars on the CDC guidance for operating child care providers. These webinars are intended for currently operating child care providers.

Objectives

The webinars will be facilitated by Amy Requa, MSN, CRNP (Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner) and Senior Health Manager at the Pennsylvania Key and will:

    • emphasize how the guidance offers practices for keeping people healthy and safe; and
    • answer questions that are submitted by providers.

Questions may be submitted prior to the webinar to hssco@pakeys.org. Questions can also be entered into the chat box during the webinars and will be addressed in future webinars.

Registration

To attend the webinar on April 29, register by clicking on the links below: