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August 26, 2020

Why Care about Child Care?

Are you a parent who needs child care? Are you interested in learning how to get help paying for child care? Are you worried about your child’s kindergarten readiness? Join the Pennsylvania Child Care Association on August 26 to explore these topics and more in their webinar, “Why Care about Child Care?

Register

This webinar will act as an introduction for parents and other caregivers (grandparents, guardians, foster families, etc.) to the child care landscape in Pennsylvania. 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 20, 2020

School-Age Child Care Update from OCDEL

As local education agencies and private schools in Pennsylvania are finalizing and announcing their plans for the 2020-21 academic school year, OCDEL is becoming increasingly aware that many school districts are implementing hybrid or full remote instruction models for the school year.

These announcements have raised questions about how families with children enrolled in Kindergarten and beyond will be supported if they need expanded child care. Continue reading below for answers to common questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can school-age children enroll in child care if their schools have announced moving to part-time or full-time remote instruction?

Yes. During the 2020-21 school year, children whose schools have announced various schedule changes to prevent the spread of COVID-19 can enroll in child care. If the district has announced that children will not attend school for face-to-face instruction, then working families can enroll children in child care during those days.

Will OCDEL revise the school-age blended rate for children attending child care during the portion of the day that has typically been considered “school hours”?

For the 2020-21 school year, the calculation of the blended rate will not change. It will still be based on 25 full-time days and 180 part-time days. If a child attends a school district where students will not return to school for in-person, five-day-a-week instruction, a child care provider who accepts the blended rate will receive a part-time blended rate for the days the child attends school in-person and attends child care part-time. The provider may receive a full-time payment rate on the days the child is not scheduled to attend school in-person and attends child care full-time.

Paying the part-time blended rate, instead of a part-time rate, will compensate for any days the child was supposed to attend part-time buy may need to attend full-time because of a school’s closure, such as staff in-service days, holidays, professional development, and snow days. If school districts change how school instruction will be administered throughout the school year, related to COVID-19, the child’s schedule will be updated to reflect the school’s current schedule. View the full guidance.

Will non-licensed programs be able to serve school-age children?

Yes. Enrollment in a licensed child care facility is preferred, however, part-day school-age programs will be available to enroll school-age children during the 2020-21 school year. Enrolled children must be kindergarten age or older.

School District Reopening Plans

To view school districts’ reopening plans, visit the PA Schools Work website. To learn about the phased reopening of pre-k to 12 schools in Pennsylvania, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Education website.

More Information

For more information, view this email from the Pennsylvania Key.

News

July 22, 2020

Connections and Conversations: Advocacy 101

Are you interested in learning about the budget process and state government in Pennsylvania? Join Trying Together on July 22 at 6 p.m. for our online session, “Connections and Conversations: Advocacy 101.”

About

Connections and Conversations Virtual Check-Ins are interactive sessions that highlight topics of interest to the field of early childhood education. Participants will engage in virtual discussions via Zoom with child development experts while interacting with early learning practitioners to share questions, experiences, and expertise about the highlighted topic.

This session will highlight the budget process and state government in Pennsylvania. Participants will receive an overview of the Early Learning Pennsylvania (ELPA) campaigns, how early childhood education programs are impacted by the budget process, and ways professionals and families can use their experiences and knowledge to advocate. This session will also identify advocacy actions attendees can participate in or lead to advocate for early childhood.

Participants will receive the course Zoom link via email within 24 hours before the start date for the course. For questions, contact Rosie Hogan at rosie@tryingtogether.org or Sarah Grubb at sarah.elrc5@alleghenycounty.us.

Session Details

    • Session Date: Wednesday, July 22 | 6 – 7 p.m
    • Instructors: Emily Neff, Cristina Codario, and Lindsey Ramsey
    • CKC: K6.10 C1
    • CDA Subject Area: Maintaining a commitment to professionalism.
    • Registrations must be submitted by Monday, July 20. Space is limited.
    • Sessions will be offered biweekly and will offer one hour of PQAS credit. Act 48 credit will not be offered.

Registration

To register and learn more, visit the course webpage.

Session Rules and Guidelines

These virtual discussions are designed to provide educators the opportunity to grow professionally and share knowledge on early childhood topics. During the meeting, participants should follow the guidelines below to ensure a successful virtual meeting for all participants.

    • Please allow all participants a chance to speak. Listen respectfully and actively.
    • Commit to learning about each other, not to debating the topic.
    • Embrace differences of opinion as healthy and support each person’s authentic self-expression.
    • Participants will be muted for the beginning portion of the session.
    • Participants may use the “Raise Hand” feature in Zoom to request an opportunity to comment or ask a question. Individuals will be temporarily unmuted by the moderator.
    • Participants may type a comment or question in the Chat or may send comments or questions directly to the moderator for them to share.
    • To receive PQAS credit, you must complete an evaluation at the end of the session and include your PD Registry number.
    • Have fun, make connections, and engage in the conversations!

More Information

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

News

May 29, 2020

Guidance for Businesses in Counties Moving to Green Phase

On May 29, 2020, Gov. Tom Wolf announced that a number of Pennsylvania counties will move to the “green phase” of the state’s Reopening Plan beginning June 5. On that date, all counties in the state will be in the “yellow” or “green” phases. This means that all child care programs within the state that can comply with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) may reopen.

Business Guidance

In entering the green phase, all businesses must continue following CDC and Pennsylvania Department of Health guidance for social distancing and cleaning. Businesses are also encouraged to adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Continued telework strongly encouraged
  • Businesses with in-person operations must follow updated business and building safety requirements
  • All businesses operating at 50% occupancy in the yellow phase may increase to 75% occupancy
  • Child care may open complying with guidance
  • Congregate care restrictions in place
  • Prison and hospital restrictions determined by individual facilities
  • Schools subject to CDC and Commonwealth guidance

Counties in the Green Phase

As of May 29, 2020, counties that are in the green phase are Bradford, Cameron, Clarion, Clearfield, Crawford, Elk, Forest, Jefferson, Lawrence, McKean, Montour, Potter, Snyder, Sullivan, Tioga, Venango, and Warren.

On June 5, 2020, counties that will transition to the green phase are Allegheny, Armstrong, Bedford, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Clinton, Fayette, Fulton, Greene, Indiana, Lycoming, Mercer, Somerset, Washington and Westmoreland.

Governor Wolf warned that future COVID-19 outbreaks remain possible and if an outbreak occurs, counties might need to revert back to more restricted phases. Because of this, all community members and businesses should continue social distancing, practicing safe hygiene, and limiting contact with others as much as possible.

If your county remains in the yellow phase, view a news post from Trying Together about business guidance. To learn more about what the red phase, yellow phase, and green phase entail, visit the Process to Reopen Pennsylvania page.

Guidance for Child Care

In the green phase, child care providers should continue to follow CDC and DHS guidance for social distancing and cleaning.

For more information, please contact the Department of Health at 1.877.724.3258.

More Information

To learn more about Pennsylvania counties moving into the green phase, read the full press release from Governor Wolf.

News

May 21, 2020

CARES Act To Fund Nearly 7,000 Child Care Centers

In response to the  COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Tom Wolf announced on May 20, 2020 that an initial distribution of $51 million of funding from the CARES Act will support child care providers in Pennsylvania. Distributed in partnership with the General Assembly, this initial funding will reach nearly 7,000 early learning programs. The governor asserted that a healthy child care system was essential as Pennsylvania reopens.

Eligibility

The Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) determines eligibility and the amount of award based on provider type, Child Care Works (CCW) subsidy enrollment, and regional capacity. CARES Act funds will be distributed to eligible, certified child care providers through regional Early Learning Resource Centers (ELRCs) and will be available in June 2020. Additional actions are required for child care providers.

Funding Information

In total, PA received $106 million in funding that will be distributed in two waves. The first wave of $51 million will be distributed per the conditions outlined above, to help providers prepare to reopen as counties move to the yellow phase. The remaining funding will be allocated following the completion of a study assessing the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Pennsylvania’s child care providers.

Guidance for Child Care

In the Yellow Phase, child care providers are permitted to reopen without a permit so long as they follow CDC and DHS guidance for social distancing and cleaning.

For more information, please contact the Department of Health at 1.877.724.3258.

More Information

For more information about Governor Wolf’s announcement, read the full press release. The attestation form and process for the CARES Act funds for child care providers can be found online.

News

May 15, 2020

Guidance for Businesses in Counties Moving to Yellow Phase

On May 15, Governor Tom Wolf announced that 12 counties in Pennsylvania will be moving to the Yellow Phase of the Governor’s Plan to Reopen Pennsylvania on May 22, in addition to the 37 counties that transitioned into the Yellow Phase on May 8 or May 15. With this, the Governor provided guidance on May 4 that details procedures businesses must follow to conduct in-person operations in counties operating in or slated to move to the Yellow Phase. All businesses, including nonprofits, permitted to conduct in-person operations are subject to this guidance.

Guidance for Businesses

Under the Yellow Phase of reopening, life-sustaining businesses that could not conduct either all or part of their operations via telework will continue to conduct their operations in-person, and many non-life sustaining businesses will be permitted to restart their in-person operations through the loosening of some restrictions under the stay-at-home and business closure orders.

In counties that have been designated as in the yellow phase, all businesses, except those categories specifically listed as remaining closed in the Governor’s Plan to Reopen Pennsylvania, are permitted to conduct in-person operations, as long as they strictly adhere to the requirements of the guidance.

The guidance includes specific information on cleaning and disinfecting premises, limiting the number of employees in common areas and customers on premises, providing masks and sanitizing supplies for employees, installing shields or other barriers at registers and checkout areas to physically separate cashiers and customers, and creating a plan in case a business is exposed to a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19, among other provisions. View the full guidance.

Counties in the Yellow Phase

As of May 15 at 5 p.m., the following counties are in the Yellow Phase of reopening: Adams, Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Bedford, Blair, Bradford, Butler, Cameron, Cambria, Carbon, Centre, Clarion, Clearfield, Clinton, Columbia, Crawford, Cumberland, Elk, Erie, Fayette, Forest, Fulton, Greene, Indiana, Jefferson, Juniata, Lawrence, Lycoming, McKean, Mercer, Mifflin, Montour, Northumberland, Perry, Potter, Snyder, Somerset, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Union, Venango, Warren, Washington, Westmoreland, Wyoming, Wayne, and York.

Governor Wolf warned that future COVID-19 outbreaks remain possible and if an outbreak occurs, counties placed in the Yellow Phase may need to revert back to the Red Phase. Because of this, all community members and businesses should continue social distancing, practicing safe hygiene, and limiting contact with others as much as possible. For counties in the Red Phase, Governor Wolf encourages individuals to “make choices that will lead to fewer cases and a faster move to lifted restrictions.”

To learn more about what the Red Phase, Yellow Phase, and Green Phase entail, visit the Process to Reopen Pennsylvania page.

Guidance for Child Care

In the Yellow Phase, child care providers are permitted to reopen without a permit so long as they follow CDC and DHS guidance for social distancing and cleaning.

For more information, please contact the Department of Health at 1.877.724.3258.

More Information

For more information, read the full press release. Businesses that have questions about whether this guidance applies to them may contact the Department of Health at 1.877.724.3258.

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:

News

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:

News

April 17, 2020

CHIP Will Maintain Enrollment During COVID-19 Crisis

On April 15, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) announced that it is “making temporary changes to Pennsylvania’s Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to keep families enrolled in CHIP for the duration of the public health emergency and to ease access to medical services for children being screened or receiving treatment for COVID-19.

What is CHIP?

The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is Pennsylvania’s program to provide health insurance to uninsured children and teens who are not eligible for or enrolled in Medical Assistance. For most families, the program is free. Families with incomes above the free CHIP limits pay low monthly premiums and copays for some services.

CHIP covers any uninsured child or teen up to the age of 19 and guarantees 12 months of coverage unless the family no longer meets basic eligibility requirements. There is not a waiting list to enroll in the program. Caregivers must renew their coverage every year to continue receiving services. To learn more and apply, visit the CHIP webpage.

Included Changes

The following changes to CHIP will be in effect until the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency:

    • Families will not be denied or disenrolled from coverage for administrative or financial reasons. An example of an administrative reason would be not being able to provide proof of income.
    • Families will not pay a copay for services that are for COVID-19 screenings, testing, or treatment.
    • Families who cannot provide paperwork to verify information on an application or renewal can provide self-attestation of information by signing the application or renewal.
    • Families will be given more time to pay premiums, if needed.

These changes were made due to the economic and financial hardship that many families across the Commonwealth are experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, families must still provide verification of information provided on an application and are still responsible for copays for services not related to COVID-19.

Families will still be required to pay premiums, if applicable. However, if a family is unable to pay due to a decrease in or loss of income, that family must contact their managed care organization immediately and can request a reassessment because of an income change at any time.

More Information

For more information, read the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services’ full press release.