News

October 6, 2021

Advocacy Basics for Home Based Providers

Support for early care and education has increased, yet everyone must do their part to help legislators and community members understand why it is so important to children, their families and their communities. This upcoming webinar from PennAEYC will provide the tools needed to talk to legislators, business leaders, and civic leaders about how vital home-based care is to your community. This session will show you the basics of advocacy and where to find more resources to build momentum and engage the families you serve in the process.

Registration

Individuals may register via Zoom for one of two sessions.

News

Advocacy Basics for Home Based Providers

Support for early care and education has increased, yet everyone must do their part to help legislators and community members understand why it is so important to children, their families and their communities. This upcoming webinar from PennAEYC will provide the tools needed to talk to legislators, business leaders, and civic leaders about how vital home-based care is to your community. This session will show you the basics of advocacy and where to find more resources to build momentum and engage the families you serve in the process.

Registration

Individuals may register via Zoom for one of two sessions.

News

September 27, 2021

Advocacy Basics

If you are interested in talking with legislators and civic leaders about how vital early care and education is to your community, learn the basics of advocacy from PennAEYC. This session will cover basic advocacy concepts and how to engage the families you serve in the process. Register for this event online.

News

September 21, 2020

State Office Candidate Conversation: Child Care

In Allegheny County, 48 percent of eligible children do not have access to publicly funded pre-k programs and 67 percent of Child Care Works subsidy-eligible children under age five remain unserved. Before you vote on Tuesday, November 3, 2020, find out what your candidates think about early childhood education.

Registration

Join the Children Matter Action Fund on September 23 for an online conversation about child care with Allegheny County candidates for state office in House Districts 28, 30, 44, and 45! To register, visit the event webpage.

Unable to attend? Check out each candidate’s views on the Children Matter Action Fund website.

News

March 6, 2020

Washington County Focus Week Urges Increased Investments

In March 2020, Trying Together, Pre-K for PA, and Start Strong PA are co-hosting the Washington County Focus Week to highlight the need for increased child care and pre-kindergarten investments in future Pennsylvania budgets.

About

Taking place from March 9 through March 13, 2020, the Washington County Focus Week seeks to:

    • highlight quality infant and toddler child care in Washington and Allegheny County;
    • thank state policymakers for investments in high-quality early learning programs;
    • document continued unmet need for high-quality child care and pre-k in Washington and Allegheny County;
    • and urge state policymakers to make high-quality child care and pre-k top priorities in future state budgets to increase access to and the affordability of these critical programs.

The Washington County Focus Week is one of many to come. Pre-K For PA, Start Strong PA, and campaign partner organizations like Trying Together will host additional Focus Weeks in districts across the Commonwealth throughout the year. These weeks were developed, in part, due to the need for increased child care funding in the Pennsylvania state budget, as 73 percent of eligible children under the age of five are not receiving high-quality child care services

Why It Matters

According to the Committee for Economic Development’s 2019 Child Care in State Economies Fact Sheet, the average annual cost of child care for an infant in Pennsylvania is $11,560 in a child care center. That is roughly 21 percent of the state’s median income and 80 percent of the cost of tuition and fees at a four-year state college in Pennsylvania. These costs remain a major barrier for many parents and caregivers, especially those who are seeking to enter, re-enter, or remain in the workforce. 

Issues of access are not limited to child care, however, as 56 percent of eligible three- and four-year-olds in Pennsylvania do not have access to high-quality, publicly funded pre-k according to recent data from KIDS COUNT: Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children. Locally, 55 percent of eligible children in Washington County do not have access to high-quality, publicly funded pre-k.

Both Pre-K For PA and Start Strong PA commented on the most recent 2020-2021 Pennsylvania State Budget proposal, stating, “Although the Governor’s budget proposal utilizes $15.3 million in federal funding toward child care subsidy base rates, this proposal will have no impact in addressing the list of children waiting to gain access to subsidized care or improve the quality of that care.”

No Small Matter Screening

On March 12 from 6 – 8 p.m. at the Collier Community Center (which lies on the border of Washington and Allegheny Counties in Oakdale, Pennsylvania) Washington County constituents are invited to attend a free screening and panel discussion of the early childhood documentary, No Small Matter.

Through poignant stories and surprising humor, No Small Matter lays out the overwhelming evidence for the importance of the first five years of life and reveals how our failure to act on that evidence has resulted in an everyday crisis for American families, and a slow-motion catastrophe for the entire country. These crises are playing out in Pennsylvania, as families and caregivers across the Commonwealth are struggling to access high-quality pre-kindergarten and child care programs.

Panelists will include:

    • Senator Camera Bartolotta
    • Representative Jason Ortitay
    • Representative Timothy J. O’Neal
    • Donna Shriver, SmartKids Child Care & Learning Center
    • Audra Redick, The University of Pittsburgh’s Office of Child Development

Visit our event webpage to register and learn more!

More Information

For more information about the Washington County Focus Week and the additional early learning advocacy efforts of Trying Together, contact Cristina Codario, Public Policy Regional Coordinator at 412.567.3673 or cristina@tryingtogether.org.

For more information about Pre-K For PA or Start Strong PA, visit www.prekforpa.org and www.startstrongpa.org online respectively.

News

February 4, 2019

Pittsburgh Launching New Book Gifting Program

With support from The Benter Foundation, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto’s administration plans to launch a free book program for children from birth to age five. Tomorrow, Pittsburgh City Council will introduce legislation to accept $250,000 from the foundation, introducing Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program to the city. Since starting in 1995, this program has sent more than 113 million books for free, to children in the United States, Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

The Role That Access Plays

Studies of the Imagination Library have discovered:

  • Parents believed their children were more interested in reading when receiving the books every month
  • Parents read aloud to their children more often
  • Children were excited when books arrived in their name
  • Positive views of the program transcended demographics and longer participation provided better outcomes

The City’s Role

The Imagination Library covers overhead costs, databases, monthly mailings, and a book selection committee. The City of Pittsburgh, as an affiliate of the Imagination Library, would cover the ongoing costs for mailing each book every month, as well as enrollment and promotional activities.

Once funding is approved, outreach and communication plans will be launched, as well as engaging with local organizations that work with young children and families.

Quotes from the Partnership

Tiffini Simoneaux, manager of the City’s Office of Early Childhood in Mayor Peduto’s Bureau of Neighborhood Empowerment:

“Research shows that early literary experiences, including access to books in the home, are fundamental ingredients for academic success. This program will enable young children throughout the city to build a home library of up to 60 books.”

Bill Benter, president of The Benter Foundation:

“We’re pleased to partner with the City of Pittsburgh and other community allies to help children develop a lifelong love of reading. Having your own books at home unlocks a new world of learning and language that can help Pittsburgh’s children thrive.”

*Information provided by the City of Pittsburgh

News

January 29, 2019

Start Strong PA Hosts Statewide Campaign Launch in Harrisburg

On January 29, Start Strong PA hosted their official statewide campaign launch event at the Pennsylvania State Capitol Complex in Harrisburg.

What is Start Strong PA?

Guided by evidence-based research, the Start Strong PA campaign was launched to help ensure that every Pennsylvania infant and toddler starts off strong. By advocating for increased access to and affordability of high-quality child care programs, the campaign aims to support healthy childhood development, working families, and the Pennsylvania economy.

Speaking on behalf of the campaign, Jodi Askins, Executive Director of PennAEYC, stated:

“Infant-toddler brains make over a million neural connections every second – forming brain architecture for life. At no other time in a human’s life will the brain develop at this remarkable speed or with such intricacy. This is the foundation upon which all later learning, behavior, and health depend. That’s why we need Pennsylvanians to join us and help our infants and toddlers ‘start strong’!”

At the Launch

With approximately 75 early childhood advocates in attendance, including state legislators, professionals, and families with children in child care, the launch began with a complimentary coffee bar (made possible by Little Amps Coffee Roasters), pictures of legislators’ young children, and conversations on the important role that high-quality child care plays in the lives of our infants and toddlers.

A press conference was held later in the afternoon, featuring representatives from partner organizations, state legislators, administration, parents, and high-quality child care programs. Various early childhood education and care topics were highlighted, including issues of access, affordability, low wages, and a need for more high-quality early childhood staff.

Parent Lauren Bethea spoke about her experiences waiting for care for her daughter Lorraine:

“The weight of the world was on my shoulders until my child got into a high-quality program. Every young child like Lorraine deserves this opportunity. Waiting for space in a program until your child is 2, 3, or even older before enrollment is not an option for so many families.”

Deputy Secretary Suzann Morris spoke to her role as a mother and to her leadership role over current initiatives of the Office of Child Development and Early Learning, sharing that work is underway to make early childhood programs more efficient such as program coordination in regional Early Learning Resource Centers.

Watch the full press conference here.

Quotes from Pennsylvania Legislators

At the press conference, state legislators spoke out on the following topics:

Senator Pat Browne, Co-Chair, Early Childhood Education Caucus

“This is the type of results-based thinking that’s necessary to maximize where the state spends its limited amount of discretionary revenue. These early learning programs have a proven track record of helping prevent at-risk young people from falling behind or dropping out of school. Looking long-term, young people who receive early learning assistance are more likely to become productive members of our community. By prioritizing spending on these vital programs it will save the Commonwealth long-term costs.”

Senator Jay Costa

“Paying [early childhood professionals] some of the lowest wages in the service industry is simply unacceptable and needs to change.”

Representative Mark Longietti, Co-Chair, Early Childhood Education Caucus

“Programs provide a safe and secure environment and teachers help children learn the “executive function” and self-regulation skills that are necessary for life success – from being able to pay attention, plan, and prioritize to recognizing, naming and controlling their emotions.”

Representative Lynda Schlegel Culver

“The state has a waiting list of over 4,300 kids for a subsidy and an average waiting time of 88 days as of November. And only one-third of children receiving subsidized care were in Keystone STAR 3 or 4 programs.”

How You Can Support

Help us inform and engage Pennsylvania policymakers on the changes necessary to increase access, affordability, and quality in infant/toddler child care programs and sign-on your support here or download, complete, and email this sign-on form to info@startstrongpa.org.

For updates on the campaign, follow Start Strong PA on Facebook and Twitter.

Questions

For questions or to schedule an interview with campaign launch speakers or Start Strong PA partner organizations, please contact Lissa Geiger Shulman at 717.802.1881 or lissa@tryingtogether.org.

News

November 29, 2018

Remind Your Legislator to Prioritize Young Children

Just a few weeks ago on election day, many Pennsylvania legislators and early childhood champions were re-elected and will soon be voting on issues affecting our children and families.

Trying Together and its statewide partners at First Up and PennAEYC are asking advocates to contact their legislators to congratulate them on their re-election. If you have newly elected officials and are an administrator, director, or other early care and education professional who wants to invite them for a tour of your program, Trying Together can help. Just complete and submit this form and someone will be happy to help coordinate a visit or join you!

As the year winds down and preparations are made to get ready for the holidays, it is important to keep our legislators’ inboxes and social media full of reminders about the importance of children. Please take two minutes to contact your legislator in support of early learning programs!