October 7, 2020

Update: COVID-19 Child Care Operations

On September 29, the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) issued an announcement to provide certified child care facilities with interim guidance for operating a facility during the COVID-19 pandemic. This announcement replaces C-20-06-Revised.


The announcement includes guidance on a range of health and safety considerations. Early learning professionals can review the guidance document in its entirety online. For examples of this guidance, continue reading below.


Practices, Policies, and Procedures

    • Implement drop-off and arrival procedures: post signage to maintain social distancing; encourage the same designated person to drop off and pick up the child every day; set up hand hygiene stations; keep hand sanitizer out of children’s reach and supervise use; stagger arrival and pick up times; transport infants in their car seats; etc.
    • Implement daily screening procedures: conduct a screening of any person entering the building; do not allow people who have tested positive for COVID-19 or who are showing symptoms to enter the building; ask caregivers to take their child’s temperature before coming to the facility and check their temperature again upon arrival; maintain at least six feet of distance from the parent and child; ask the child’s caregiver if any symptoms are present; put on disposable gloves; etc.
    • Implement disinfecting and sanitation procedures: clean and sanitize toys; develop a schedule for routinely cleaning and disinfecting; keep cleaning materials out of the reach of children; don’t use products near children; ensure adequate ventilation; etc.

Social Distancing in Child Care Settings

    • If possible, child care classes should include the same group each day, and the same child care providers should remain with the same group each day.
    • If your child care program remains open, consider creating a separate classroom or group for the children of healthcare workers and other first responders.
    • Consider whether to alter or halt daily group activities that may promote transmission. Cancel or postpone special events such as festivals, holiday events, and special performances.
    • Limit the mixing of children, such as staggering playground times and keeping groups separate for special activities such as art, music, and exercising. Keep each group of children in a separate room.
    • If possible, at nap time, ensure that children’s naptime mats (or cribs) are spaced out as much as possible, ideally 6 feet apart. Consider placing children head to toe in order to further reduce the potential for viral spread.

Face Coverings

    • If a child is outdoors and able to consistently maintain a social distance of at least 6 feet from individuals who are not a part of their household, they do not need to wear a face covering.
    • If a parent, guardian, or responsible person has been unable to place a face covering safely on the 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.
    • If experiencing issues with getting younger children comfortable wearing face coverings and keeping them on, parents, guardians, licensed child care providers in community-based and school settings or responsible persons may consider prioritizing the wearing of face coverings to times when it is difficult for the child to maintain a social distance of at least 6 feet from others who are not a part of their household (drop-off, pick-up, standing in line, etc.).

Confirmed COVID-19 Cases and Exposure

    • The facility must develop a process to inform facility persons of possible exposure to a positive COVID-19 case. The operator shall inform parents of enrolled children when there is a suspected outbreak of a communicable disease or an outbreak of an unusual illness that represents a public health emergency in the opinion of the Department of Health.
    • If the child is in care when the test results are confirmed positive, the child must be isolated until the appropriate party arrives to pick them up. The child’s parent must be notified as soon as possible.
    • If a facility person or child tests positive for COVID-19, areas used by the person who tested positive must be closed for a period of 24 hours following the confirmed positive COVID-19 case of a child or facility person in attendance so that the facility can be cleaned and disinfected properly. Close contacts must self-quarantine.
    • If a facility person, household member, or a child is exposed to an individual who tests positive for COVID-19, they shall self-quarantine for a period of 14 days based on the CDC guidance.


    • If a facility person/child is a potential exposure AND has COVID-19 like symptoms, please report to the Department of Health or your local health department.
    • The facility must report positive COVID-19 cases to the Department of Health. Facilities within the counties listed on page 13 of the announcement must report positive cases to their local health department, who will in turn report this information to the Department of Health.
    • The facility must report positive COVID-19 cases and positive COVID-19 cases that result in death to their Department of Human Services (DHS) Certification Representative. Facilities must utilize the DHS Licensed Facility COVID Data Collection Tool.

Timeline for Returning to Care

    • Individuals with COVID-19 who have symptoms and were directed to care for themselves at home: discontinue isolation after at least 24 hours have passed since recovery (defined as the resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medication and the improvement of symptoms), AND at least 10 days after symptoms first appeared.
    • Persons with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 who have not had any symptoms and were directed to care for themselves at home: discontinue isolation after no less than 10 days have passed since the date of their first positive COVID-19 diagnostic test, provided no symptoms have developed during that 10-day period.
    • Symptomatic child/facility persons who are not tested: exclude for 10 days from symptom onset AND at least 24 hours after fever resolution (if present) without the use of fever-reducing medication AND improved respiratory symptoms.
    • Symptomatic child/facility persons determined by a health care provider to have an illness other than COVID-19: exclude until without a fever for 24 hours (if fever present) without the use of fever-reducing medication and symptoms improve.
    • Symptomatic child/facility persons with test negative: exclude until without a fever for 24 hours (if fever present) without the use of fever-reducing medication AND improved respiratory symptoms.

Additional Resources

More Information

This information was provided by OCDEL. For questions or concerns, please contact the regional OCDEL office at 800.222.2149. For more information, read the full announcement.


October 6, 2020

Promoting Inclusion in ECE Programs

On September 30, the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) released guidance on strategies early learning programs should use to ensure all young children with disabilities and their families have access to high-quality, inclusive programming.


OCDEL issued this announcement to provide guidance on strategies that promote inclusion for all students, set an expectation for high-quality programs to be inclusive of children with disabilities, and identify resources available to local early learning programs.

Who Does This Apply To?

Effective October 1, 2020, this announcement applies to both federally- and state-funded programs, including Child Care Works, Child Care Certification, Early Head Start, Head Start, Early Intervention, Home Visiting programs, Keystone STARS, Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program, Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts, and Family Centers.

Next Steps

To promote inclusion, local early learning programs must complete the following actions:

1. In collaboration with program staff and families:

    • develop and implement a written program policy that focuses on actively including young children with disabilities in your early learning program;
    • review and modify existing policies, practices, and procedures to ensure barriers are removed that would prevent children with disabilities from accessing or participating in your early learning program; and
    • develop resources for effective communication between families and program staff to ensure families know the benefits of and their rights related to inclusion.

2. Assess staff competencies and implement professional development, which includes family perspectives, related to inclusion based on the needs of staff and families.

3. Seek assistance from your local Early Learning Resource Center (ELRC) to identify examples of inclusive program policies, structures, and activities to provide models of dissemination and replication throughout Pennsylvania.

4. Develop and strengthen partnerships between your program and Early Intervention programs so that supports and services for children with disabilities can be provided within the daily routines and activities of high-quality early learning programs.

5. Participate in ongoing opportunities for stakeholder input and professional development opportunities on additional OCDEL guidance related to the inclusion of all children.

6. Implement this policy in conjunction with the Announcement, Reduction of Expulsion and Suspension in Early Childhood Programs in Pennsylvania and any additional guidance related to the inclusion of all children.

OCDEL’s Support

To promote practices that support the inclusion of all young children in early learning programs, OCDEL will complete the following actions:

1. In collaboration with and input from stakeholders and families, OCDEL will:

2. OCDEL will provide individualized support, including on-site coaching and consultation, to OCDEL-funded programs.

3. Through the ELRCs, OCDEL will:

    • identify opportunities for community partnerships to promote inclusion, including partnerships for providing individualized support, professional development, and other capacity-building resources;
    • provide support and guidance to assist child care programs to progress in their Keystone STAR level rating; and
    • support child care programs to understand their vital role in supporting inclusion.

More Information

For more information, read the full announcement.


September 30, 2020

Digital Media Literacy: A Deeper Look

Are you interested in exploring guidance on technology and digital media use with young children? Join Trying Together on October 8 for our virtual session, “Digital Media Literacy: A Deeper Look: NAEYC/Fred Rogers Center Position Statement.”


This professional development course is designed for educators and administrators to critically examine and develop a deep understanding of the intentions and guidance of the NAEYC Fred Rogers Center position statement. The course will encourage reflective practices to positively influence teaching, policy development, and dialogue about young children and technology.

Session Details

    • Session Date: Thursday, October 8, 2020  |  6:30 – 7:30 p.m.
    • Instructor: Katherine Gullone
    • Core Knowledge Area: Professional and Leadership
    • CDA Content Area: Maintaining Professionalism
    • Registration Deadline: Tuesday, October 6, 2020


To register, visit the course PD Registry page. Space is limited. Participants will receive the course Zoom link via email within 24 hours before the start date for the course. PQAS and Act 48 credit available.

If you do not have a PD Registry account, please complete this online form to create one. If you are unable to create an account, please contact Jasmine Davis at for more information.

More Information

For questions or more information, contact Jasmine Davis at


September 28, 2020

Health and Safety Trainings Available

The Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) announced that COVID-19 Health and Safety System Supports Training Webinars are available on the Pennsylvania Key website.


Each webinar provides COVID-19 guidance on topics related to the early childhood field, including:

Watch the Webinars

To watch the webinars, visit the Pennsylvania Key website.

The guidance provided in these videos has been based on evidence and information available at the time of publishing. Guidance will be reviewed as new information continues to emerge. To ensure you are implementing the most up-to-date guidance, visit the OCDEL or CDC website.


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.


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.


September 2, 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.”


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.


To learn more and register, visit the event webpage.


August 20, 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.”


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.


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, or you can enter them in the chatbox during the session.

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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


July 29, 2020

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.”


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.


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 or 1.866.950.1040.

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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.