November 16, 2020

Support Available Through Family Hotline

Need assistance in navigating the academic and personal needs of those in your household? Call this Family Hotline offered by the Pittsburgh Learning Collaborative.


In August 2020, A+ Schools, ARYSE, Lawrenceville United, the Latino Community Center, the Boys & Girls Club, and Heinz Fellows launched their new Family Hotline to answer questions and offer support to families as they navigate the academic and personal needs of those in their household.

The Hotline is available in 14 languages, including English, Spanish, Uzbek, Swahili, Nepali, Tigrinya, Kinyarwanda, Mandarin, Hindi, Burmese, French, Dari, Portuguese, and Arabic. Calls can be received 24/7. A representative may answer your call, but if not, please leave a voicemail. You will receive a call back within 48 hours on weekdays. Voicemails can be left in any language.

Hotline Phone Numbers

    • For calls in any language: 412.256.8536
    • Para llamadas en Español: 412.335.7446

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DHS Warns of Potential Pandemic EBT Benefit Scam

The Department of Human Services (DHS) is warning of a possible scam concerning Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) benefits and reminding Pennsylvanians to be skeptical of unsolicited or random calls or text messages about public-assistance programs – especially when the calls or text messages solicit personal information, such as Social Security numbers.


DHS is investigating a report of individuals receiving calls with pre-recorded messages advising them to expedite their P-EBT benefits issuance by providing their Social Security number and case record number. In the message, the speaker claims to be from a County Assistance Office (CAO).

DHS and other government agencies do not ask for information about P-EBT, SNAP, or any other public-assistance programs via unsolicited or random calls or texts, and Pennsylvanians should not reply to such a call or text or share any personal information if they are contacted in this way. If you or anyone you work with receive unsolicited or random calls or text messages telling you that you qualify for assistance and then asking for personal information, it is most likely a scam. Do not respond. Delete the message so you do not get caught in an identity theft scam.

Pennsylvanians who have questions about whether a call, text, letter, or other communication is legitimate should contact DHS’ Office of Income Maintenance. Clients in Philadelphia should call the Philadelphia Customer Service Center at 215.560.7226. Clients in all other counties can call the Statewide Customer Service Center at 1.877.395.8930.

Apply for Benefits

Applications for the SNAP and other public assistance programs can be submitted online at All Pennsylvanians experiencing financial hardships due to the pandemic, a lost job, or a change in income are strongly encouraged to apply and see if they qualify for assistance with food, health care, and other essential needs.

More Information

For more information, read the full press release. To learn about food assistance resources for people around Pennsylvania impacted by COVID-19 and the accompanying economic insecurity, visit the Department of Agriculture’s food security guide.

*Information provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services


October 23, 2020

2020 Family Support Needs Assessment

On October 22, the Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) released a new Family Support Needs Assessment that covers the needs and challenges experienced by families with young children and opportunities to address these needs and better serve families.


Developed in partnership with PolicyLab at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the assessment found that substance abuse, intimate partner violence, and mental health challenges are among the most pronounced issues facing young families across urban and rural communities. The assessment also shows an overall improvement in maternal and child health outcomes across many of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties since the last statewide needs assessment in 2014.

Assessment Findings

Informed by community surveys, interviews, and statewide data sets, the 2018-2020 Family Support Needs Assessment categorizes Pennsylvania’s counties as having “elevated need,” “moderate need,” and “low need,” across six domains: maternal and child health; socioeconomic status; substance abuse; child safety and maltreatment; community environment; and child care.

Overall, the findings show that 44 counties have elevated need in at least one of the domains and 15 counties across the state met elevated need thresholds in three or more domains. Importantly, the data collection occurred prior to the arrival of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania, and the researchers anticipate that the pandemic will exacerbate many areas of community need.

Despite the elevated need recorded in the report, maternal and child health outcomes have dramatically improved across much of the state since the 2014 federally-mandated statewide needs assessment. For example:

    • nearly every county (63) saw improved rates of preterm birth and teen birth;
    • 60 percent of counties saw improvements in infant mortality rates;
    • half of the counties saw a reduction in the percentage of children under age five living in poverty; and
    • more than half of the 2,220 individuals surveyed for the needs assessment have a favorable view of the availability and quality of health and social services in Pennsylvania for families with young children.

The assessment also includes a review of the capacity and scope of the state’s home visiting programs, which provide voluntary, in-home services to under-resourced pregnant moms and families of young children. Pennsylvania significantly increased its investment in evidence-based home visiting over the last four years so that today, six evidence-based home visiting models serve a total of 10,150 families.

More Information

For more information, read the full press release and review the 2020 Family Supports Need Assessment Report.


September 2, 2020

From Mourning to Meaning-Making

Join Highmark Caring Place on September 2 for their webinar, “From Mourning to Meaning-Making: How to Meet the Needs of Grieving Families.”


This webinar will discuss the ways in which grief and mourning are both unique and universal. Presenters will look at Alan Wolfelt’s six “reconciliation needs” and discuss the ways mourners can recognize and address these basic grief needs in order to find hope and healing.

This is a free webinar. When registered, you will receive a Zoom link the evening before the webinar. No Continuing Education Units (CEUs) will be provided. Presentation materials can be provided upon request.

Learning Objectives

By attending, participants will be able to:

    • explore both the personal and the communal elements of grief,
    • understand Alan Wolfelt’s “reconciliation needs” model of mourning,” and
    • discuss creative and helpful ways of addressing the needs of mourning.


To register, visit the event webpage. Registrations must be submitted no later than September 1 at 6 p.m.

More Information

For questions, contact Patrick McKelvey at

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August 11, 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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June 29, 2020

Public Discussion: Services for Families in Allegheny County

What does your community need? How can the Allegheny County Department of Human Services help meet those needs? You are invited to share your ideas and suggestions at a virtual Human Services Block Grant Public Meeting. All input will inform the 2020-21 Human Services Block Grant Plan.

Available Sessions

Join a Session

There are three ways to participate in a virtual meeting:

  1. To hear the live audio, see the live video, and participate in the Q&A, join on your computer, smartphone, or tablet. You may be instructed to download an app called Microsoft Teams. If prompted to sign in, you may choose whether to do so or join anonymously.
  2. To hear the live audio only, call 267.368.7515. The access code for Monday’s meeting is 172 596 105# and the access code for Tuesday’s meeting is 746 312 327#.
  3. To watch the recordings at your convenience, visit the Allegheny County website. The recordings will be posted within 24 to 48 hours after the meetings.

More Information

Allegheny County DHS makes reasonable efforts to accommodate people with disabilities or limited-English-proficiency. Closed captioning in English, Spanish, Chinese, and Arabic will be available when joining the meeting on a PC or Mac.

For questions, comments, or ideas, contact DHS-Ideas@AlleghenyCounty.US.


May 13, 2020

Promotion, Prevention, and Intervention Services for Children

Join the Pennsylvania Association for the Education of Young Children (PennAEYC) on May 13 for their webinar “Promotion, Prevention, and Intervention Services for Children” to better understand how to support children, families, and staff as they seek to support young children during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Join Brandy Fox, Director of Cross-Sector IECMH Initiatives for the Pennsylvania Key, for a conversation about early childhood services grounded in a promotion, prevention, and intervention framework. Learn about the general landscape of early childhood services and “where” they fall on this continuum. Identify simple steps that may help families navigate these services to best meet the needs of their children.


To register, visit the event webpage.


November 15, 2019

Pennsylvania Expands Home Visiting Support

In October 2019, the Wolf Administration announced that, under the guidance of the Department of Human Services (DHS), it is expanding home visiting supports to first-time mothers and mothers of children with special needs covered by Medicaid. The expansion, made possible in collaboration with physical health Medicaid managed care organizations (MCOs), will guarantee at least two home visits to new parents and families with children with additional risk factors across Pennsylvania, expanding access to evidence-based models that promote and support healthy child and family development.


Since 2015, investments totaling nearly $16.5 million in state funds have helped increase the number of children and families who can receive home visiting supports in communities around Pennsylvania. Guaranteeing a minimum of two home visits to all first-time mothers and mothers of children with special needs through Medicaid continues this work.

“Being a parent can be a challenge for anyone,” said Secretary Miller. “Because children don’t come with an instruction manual, home visiting programs create support systems for families to learn to better understand children’s needs, monitor milestones, and identify other opportunities for support that can continue to facilitate healthy long-term growth.”

The home visiting expansion is effective January 1, 2020 through the MCOs’ 2020 agreement. Under the new agreements, MCOs will be required to establish an evidence-based, standardized maternal, infant, and early childhood home visitation program for all first-time parents and parents of infants with additional risk factors. All parents and children identified through this effort will receive at least two home visits at no cost, and depending on need, may be referred to other established home visiting programs to continue these services. DHS expects that these programs will be in place with eligible new parents receiving home visiting services by July 1, 2020.

“There is no more important focus of my administration than giving all children and families a strong start,” Gov. Wolf said. “By expanding access to evidence-based home visiting programs, we will put more kids, parents, and families on a path to a healthy, happy future.”

What is Home Visiting?

Evidence-based home visiting family support programs have a family-centered focus and strength-based approach that works with both the child and parent. A home visitor can help parents gain the skills and connect to resources necessary to improve their family’s health, safety, economic security, and success in early childhood education.

Studies of various nurse-family partnership programs have shown positive impacts for the mother and baby during pregnancy and after birth, such as a decrease in domestic violence and smoking during pregnancy, a significant decrease in pre-term births, and a majority of babies being born at a healthy weight. Home visiting can also improve parents’ child development knowledge and skills, help develop social support systems, and improve access to education, health, and community services.

Examples of services include:

    • monthly parent meetings;
    • regularly scheduled home visits with trained family development specialists; and
    • routine screenings to identify post-partum depression and detect potential problems with vision, hearing, growth, and learning age-based milestones.

What You Can Do

While there have been increased investments in home visiting, only 15,900 children are estimated to be served in the current state fiscal year. That’s only five percent of the children who would benefit from these services the most. Join the statewide campaign Childhood Begins at Home in advocating to maintain and build on state investments in evidence-based home visiting.

More Information

For more information, read the full release.

*Information provided by the Governor Tom Wolf Administration


October 27, 2019

Family Involvement Conference XLV

Join the Pennsylvania Coalition for Parent Involvement this October for the Family Involvement Conference.


The Family Involvement Conference is presented to you by the Pennsylvania Coalition for Parent Involvement Ltd. in collaboration with the National Association for Family, School, and Community Engagement (NAFSCE).

This conference is based upon the premise that active family involvement in the education process is the key to effective schools and student achievement. Its goal is to bring together, in a common forum, school administrators, teachers, community members, and parents, to interact and address issues that are vital to academic success and the well being of our children. This includes afterschool and out-of-school-time programs, special needs children and early childhood education.

Join with colleagues and parents to share ideas about how to make this partnership a reality in your school.

Registration Fees

Registration fees vary depending on selected type:

    • Individual Rate with Meals: $450 per person
    • Individual Rate without Meals: $220 per person
    • Group Rate with Meals (5+): $425 per person
    • Group Rate without Meals (5+): $180 per person
    • Day Attendees (with lunch): $135 per person, per day


Participants must register for this event, and forms may be submitted via mail, email, or fax.

To learn more about how to register, visit the Family Involvement Conference website.

Learn More

For questions, call 610.250.9455 or visit the Family Involvement Conference website.

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September 12, 2019

Webinar | Including and Teaching Young Children with Disabilities

Join Dr. Susan Sandall on September 12 for her upcoming webinar, “Building Blocks for Including and Teaching Young Children with Disabilities.”


This edWebinar will provide information about the development, use, and latest revision to “Building Blocks for Teaching Preschoolers with Special Needs”, a multi-tiered framework for planning and providing individualized support and instruction for young children with disabilities or other special needs. Learn about the four levels of support as well as practical, research-based practices for use in inclusive classrooms and other early learning environments. Presenters will also highlight various forms and resources for planning, teaching, and monitoring children’s progress.

This webinar is suitable for pre-k teachers, early childhood faculty, school and district leaders, and curriculum and instruction department chairs.


To register and learn more, visit the edWeb website!

About the Presenter

Dr. Susan Sandall is Professor Emeritus at the University of Washington (UW). She has directed personnel preparation projects, developed curriculum materials for all age groups, and published materials on educational practices to facilitate optimal outcomes for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers with disabilities.

*Information provided by EdWeb