News

March 1, 2022

Apply: PA ECE Provider Advisory Board

The Start Strong PA and Pre-K for PA Campaigns are seeking out early childhood professionals to apply to participate as a lead advocate in their region by serving on the first statewide Start Strong PA and Pre-K for PA Provider Advisory Board.

About the Provider Advisory Board

The advisory board will be composed of 30 early childhood professionals from across the state, working in diverse roles in all setting types. Participants will have:

  • an opportunity to elevate the voices of early childhood professionals by providing the field’s professionals with a consistent platform for policy updates and advocacy opportunities;

  • a space to identify the diverse needs of the early childhood workforce through a consistent feedback loop of what they are experiencing in the field;

  • free access to consistent advocacy related professional development, leadership development, and growth opportunities;

  • a chance to create equity driven strategies and connect practice to inform policy recommendations that support the needs of all providers, children, and families in Pennsylvania;

  • and opportunities to strengthen connections with community partners.

The advisory board will meet virtually once a month beginning in April 2022. All participants will be compensated for their time.

Apply

The application period will be from March 1 to March 28, 2022. Providers can apply online. Applicants will be notified of their application status via email the first week of April.

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News

February 10, 2022

2022-23 Pennsylvania Budget Proposal Response

On February 8, 2022, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf released the 2022-23 state budget proposal.

The principal partners of Early Learning Pennsylvania (ELPA), a statewide coalition of advocates focused on supporting young Pennsylvanians from birth to age five, are pleased with proposed investments in pre-k, evidence-based home visiting, and perinatal and child health. However, the proposal fails to adequately invest in child care.

ELPA operates four issue-based advocacy campaigns: Pre-K for PA, Start Strong PA, Childhood Begins at Home, and Thriving PA

Governor Wolf’s state budget proposal included:

Pre-k

  • $60 million in additional funding for the state’s Pre-K Counts program. 
  • $10 million in additional funding for the Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program.

Together, this $70 million expansion could serve approximately 2,300 additional young children. 

In a press release, ELPA states, “This funding continues the Commonwealth’s tradition and Governor Wolf’s unwavering commitment of expanding access to high-quality pre-k. This $70 million proposed expansion could provide this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to more than 2,300 additional young learners.

“Research shows that high-quality pre-k benefits children’s cognitive, social, and emotional development and confirms the Commonwealth’s investment in pre-k pays dividends for the children fortunate enough to access it. This investment is not only essential for our children, but high-quality early education supports labor force participation, healthy families, and a globally competitive workforce of the future. By increasing pre-k access and opening the door to more families, our economic recovery reaps the benefits.”

Child Care

  • Level funding for the state Child Care Assistance and Child Care Services line items.
  • $77.7 million in federal funding to sustain child care subsidy base rates.
  • $44.3 million in federal funding to sustain the reduction in out-of-pocket family co-payments.
  • $6.1 million in federal child care funding to sustain the incentive for providing non-traditional hour care.
  • $30 million in state funding to provide state employees with increased access to and affordability of child care through the Department of General Services.

“The Wolf Administration’s budget proposal is an inadequate response to the current child care crisis and misses an important opportunity to help working families in search of affordable high-quality care,” ELPA representatives stated. “Furthermore, failure to fully stabilize the child care sector jeopardizes the efforts of Pennsylvania businesses trying to rehire their labor force. Child care programs are closing classrooms and entire facilities due to teacher and staff shortages. Child care staff are overworked and underpaid with the average child care teacher making less than $11 per hour.” 

While the budget proposal does utilize federal funds, ELPA believes it is not sufficient in light of flat funding for Pennsylvania’s Child Care Services and Child Care Assistance line items for the third consecutive year.  

Start Strong PA is urging state policymakers to allocate a portion of the projected year-end surplus of $2.8 billion to address staff recruitment and retention, and increase access to quality care for working families, specifically for infants and toddlers.

 Home Visiting

  • $15 million in additional funding for evidence-based home visiting in the Community-Based Family Center line item (this will serve an additional 3,800 pregnant women, children, and families), as well as $8 million in one-time federal stimulus funds specified for home visiting.

“Following two years of level funding, the [Childhood Begins at Home] campaign is pleased to see Governor Wolf’s proposed investment restarts his commitment to increasing service levels beyond the 5% of Pennsylvania families currently served,” ELPA stated. 

Perinatal and Child Health

  • Funding allocated for postpartum coverage extension for women in Medicaid from 60 days to 12 months.
  • $11.5 million in increased funding for the Early Intervention Part C (infant and toddler) program through DHS, with $1.2 million allocated for children eligible for tracking when their mothers have a positive screen for postpartum depression or anxiety.
  • Level-funding for the Part B Early Intervention program (age three to five) offered through PDE.

ELPA stated, “Medicaid is a significant source of insurance for Pennsylvania women and birthing individuals— especially for women of color— so expanding coverage to a full year postpartum is a vital step towards closing racial and health disparities.    

“Additionally, we must ensure all children from birth through age five with developmental delays are identified, referred to, and accepted for the services they need to reach their fullest potential.” 

More Information

Read ELPA’s full budget response statement for details. The Pittsburgh-based early childhood nonprofit Trying Together and other partners of ELPA will continue to advocate for these investments as the budget process continues. Stay up-to-date on how to advocate for these issues by signing-up to support Trying Together’s public policy agenda.

News

January 7, 2022

Participate in the Child Care and Pre-K Voter Project

With important upcoming elections in Pennsylvania, early childhood educators are invited to participate in a voter project to ensure that people running for office know and act on the issues that face everyone in early learning.

About the Child Care and Pre-K Voter Project

Through the Child Care and Pre-K Voter Project, early childhood educators will be provided with:

  • Weekly online communication to help them educate their families and have them become part of a child care and pre-k voter online community
  • Resources to learn more about how politicians and policies affect the child care and pre-k industry via brief, monthly Zoom webinars
  • “Be a child care and Pre-K voter!” signage for their center/program (optional)
  • T-shirts for families (one adult, one child size) who sign up for the campaign through their communication
  • $100 incentive for providers’ participation

Participate

Help elevate issues facing early learning to the people running for political office in 2022 and sign up to participate in the Child Care and Pre-K Voter Project!

More Information

Want to learn more? Email Kyle McMillen at Children First for more details!

News

October 12, 2021

Working Together for Child Care in 2021

Join Pre-K for PA and Start Strong PA Partners to discuss child care and pre-k state budget advocacy and federal opportunities.

Event Details

Tuesday, October 12
11 a.m. | Register for the Zoom webinar

Topics include:

  • state budget advocacy for pre-k and child care
  • federal pandemic relief opportunities for child care
  • new federal early childhood education proposals

Speakers will include:

  • Pennsylvania Association for the Education of Young Children
  • Pennsylvania Child Care Association
  • Pennsylvania Head Start Association
  • First Up: Champions for Early Education
  • Trying Together

News

June 28, 2021

Early Learning Pennsylvania Response to 2021-22 State Budget

The principal partners of Early Learning Pennsylvania (ELPA), a statewide coalition of advocates focused on supporting young Pennsylvanians from birth to age five, believes the Commonwealth’s economic recovery hinges on helping working families by prioritizing greater state investments in high-quality pre-k, child care and evidence-based home visiting. ELPA operates four issue-based advocacy campaigns: Pre-K for PA, Start Strong PA, Childhood Begins at Home, and Thriving PA. Reaction statements from three of these campaigns regarding the FY 2021-22 state budget follow:

Pre-K

“Pre-K for PA applauds the $25 million in new state funding for Pre-K Counts and $5 million for Head Start Supplemental Assistance as part of the 2021-22 PA State Budget. This funding continues the commonwealth’s tradition of expanding access to high-quality pre-k – providing this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to more than 3,200 additional young learners. 

“Research shows that high-quality pre-k benefits children’s cognitive, social and emotional development. A new study by the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill confirmed that the commonwealth’s investment in pre-k pays dividends for the children fortunate enough to access pre-k through the Pre-K Counts program. In language and math skills, the study showed that these kids outperformed their kindergarten peers who did not enjoy access—an advantage that equated to four to five months of learning gains. Even with this budget increase, more than 100,000 eligible three- and four-year-olds still lack access to high-quality pre-k.”

Child Care

“The General Assembly and the Wolf Administration unfortunately missed the opportunity to prioritize families who are struggling to return to work. Ignoring recommendations developed with input from over 1,000 child care providers and parents, Pennsylvania’s elected leadership has fallen significantly short on ensuring American Rescue Plan child care funds are used to help families find and afford high-quality child care and to stabilize the industry.

“Given that 70% of Pennsylvania children under the age of five had all adults in their household in the labor force prior to the pandemic, high-quality child care is an essential workforce support. That workforce must be able to return to work for Pennsylvania to recover from the pandemic’s economic devastation.  

“We now call on the Wolf Administration to prioritize and implement our recommendations for Pennsylvania’s $1.2 billion in American Rescue Plan child care funding. With nearly 700 child care programs permanently closed and over 350 temporarily closed, families are struggling to find child care. Those child care providers that have managed to stay open are still incurring additional pandemic-related costs while operating significantly under capacity and are struggling to attract and retain teachers.

“Not only is there less child care capacity in the system, only 42% of certified child care capacity currently meets high-quality standards. And only 39% of infants and toddlers that receive subsidized care attend programs that have met high-quality standards. High-quality care and education mean safer, healthier children and are critical to maximizing the period of a child’s most rapid brain growth. 

 “Start Strong PA’s recommendations for American Rescue Plan child care funding will stabilize, strengthen and ultimately secure the child care industry. This industry is critical to the success of our economic recovery.”

Evidence-Based Home Visiting

“On behalf of the pregnant women, children, and families who would benefit the most from evidence-based home visiting – especially those disproportionately impacted by the pandemic – Childhood Begins at Home is dismayed that there is no increase in the state budget for these voluntary services backed by decades of research.

“Without funding increases to reach more Pennsylvania families, the unmet need remains at a staggering 95%. The Community-Based Family Centers line will be level-funded, and the Nurse-Family Partnership line will receive a minimal increase to restore the line to its prior level due to a slight reduction resulting from the state using enhanced Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) funding last year.

“Throughout budget negotiations, policymakers emphasized the infusion of federal stimulus dollars to inform state spending decisions. Of the total amount of one-time state funds Pennsylvania received from the American Rescue Plan ($7.3 billion), home visiting gets less than .02% (or a paltry $1.3 million) through the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program. This funding has yet to be distributed to programs that received no aid during the COVID-19 pandemic, and is limited in its use and timeframe to spend these dollars.

“Only pennies on the dollar for evidence-based home visiting are coming in federally. It adds insult to injury that policymakers in the legislative and administrative branches did not step up and recognize constituents would benefit from the same services that have been a lifeline for so many during the last 15 months.  

“While states’ use of the ARP funds is flexible, the federal stimulus funding for evidence-based home visiting would not even reach one family in each of Pennsylvania’s 253 legislative districts.

“From birth to age five, brain growth is rapid, learning is happening, and our coalition of advocates is committed to ensuring that families can access it in high-quality, developmentally appropriate settings. In Pennsylvania, funding has not been prioritized to ensure the resources are there to offer these irreplaceable opportunities, creating deep inequity among children and their families at a very early age. We, and our tens of thousands of supporters, will continue to urge lawmakers to invest in early learning boldly – it is an urgent necessity.”

About Early Learning Pennsylvania Initiatives

Pre-K for PA launched in 2014 with the vision that every 3- and 4-year-old in Pennsylvania will have access to high-quality pre-k. Learn more on the Pre-K for PA website.

 Start Strong PA launched in 2019 to support healthy child development, working families, and the economy by increasing access to and affordability of high-quality child care programs for young children. Learn more on the Start Strong PA website

Childhood Begins At Home is a statewide campaign to help policymakers and the public understand the value of evidence-based home visiting and support public investments in the programs.  Learn more on the Childhood Begins at Home website

News

March 8, 2021

New Pre-k Report Highlights Needs for Pre-K Counts and Head Start Rate Increase

In the last five years, Pennsylvania’s spending on pre-k has increased by $145 million for state-funded, high-quality pre-k programs including Pre-K Counts and Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program (HSSAP).

As the Commonwealth continues to increase public dollars for early childhood education, it is imperative that investments go towards increasing rates for publicly-funded programs to pay providers closer to what high-quality pre-k costs.

Trying Together, in its role as a partner of the Pre-K for PA statewide advocacy campaign, released the report Invest in Quality: A Case for Paying Closer to What High-Quality Pre-K Costs in early March 2021. In this new report the campaign recommends maintaining the rate increase provided to Pre-K Counts and HSSAP in fiscal year 2020-21.

According to the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER), Pennsylvania ranks 19 out of 28 in per capita investments of pre-k programs. Pre-k rates have not kept pace with inflation. Investing in quality through rate adjustments ensures pre-k programs can maintain high-quality and safe early learning experiences for children and families.

According to the report, the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the existing problem of the underfunded early childhood infrastructure. Early care and education is a critical piece to economic recovery. Pre-k will not only be essential to supporting the growth of our youngest learners who have missed out on months of learning opportunities, it will also serve as part of the infrastructure for getting families back to work.

In addition to the typical personnel and operations costs, COVID-19 health protocol have presented a new set of costs for the PPE and sanitation materials to ensure the safety of children, staff, and families.

The report maintains that Pennsylvania should allocate $9 million — consistent with the rate increase provided through the federal CARES Act funding — to specifically go toward a rate adjustment for both Pre-K Counts and HSSAP. The following allocations should be directly passed through to providers in order to meet the current needs:

  • A $7 million allocation to provide rate adjustments of Pre-K Counts current
    base rate from $8,750 to $9,025.
  • A $2 million allocation to provide rate adjustments of HSSAP current average
    base rate from $10,500 to $10,805.

Read the full report: Invest in Quality: A Case for Paying Closer to What High-Quality Pre-K Costs

News

February 11, 2021

Pre-K is Working in PA

Early Childhood Education providers are invited to join Pre-K for PA on February 11 for a special webinar that will present results from a new research study on the impacts of the Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts Program.

About

During this webinar, Pre-K for PA will present results from a new research study conducted by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on the impacts of the PA Pre-K Counts Program. Presenters will review data showing the impact on children’s early learning and kindergarten readiness, as well as local variations in how providers implemented the Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts program and potential areas for improvement.

Featured Presenters

The webinar will feature the following presenters:

    • Elliot Weinbaum, Program Director, William Penn Foundation
    • Ellen S. Peisner-Feinberg, Ph.D., Senior Research Scientist & Research Professor, School of Education, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    • Tracey Campanini, Deputy-Secretary, Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning

Registration

Online registration is required. To register, complete the online registration form.

News

February 4, 2021

2021-22 Pennsylvania Budget Proposal Response

On February 3, during his 2021-22 budget proposal address, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf put an emphasis on Pennsylvania families.

As a member of Early Learning Pennsylvania (ELPA), a statewide coalition of advocates focused on supporting young Pennsylvanians from birth to age five, Trying Together commends the governor’s continued commitment to growing state funding for pre-k. However, additional effort is needed to boost the availability of quality child care and home visiting services that are essential to Pennsylvania’s working families and our economic recovery.

ELPA operates three issue-based advocacy campaigns: Pre-K for PA, Start Strong PA, and Childhood Begins at Home.

Governor Wolf’s state budget proposal included:

Pre-k

  • $25 million in additional funding for the state’s Pre-K Counts program.
  • $5 million in additional funding for the Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program. Together, this $30 million expansion would serve approximately 3,270 additional young children. Currently, more than 106,000 eligible three- and four-year-old children do not have access to high-quality publicly funded pre-k programs.

In a press release, ELPA states, “During a difficult budget year, Governor Wolf deserves credit for his continued support of expanded access to publicly funded, high-quality pre-k in PA. The $30 million funding increase for these programs in the proposed 2021-22 PA budget ($25 million for Pre-K Counts; $5 million for Head Start State Supplemental Assistance Program) continues the tradition of expanding this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to thousands more three- and four-year-olds.

“A new study by the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill confirmed that the Commonwealth’s investment in pre-k is paying dividends for the children fortunate enough to access pre-k through Pennsylvania’s Pre-K Counts program. In language and math skills, the study showed that these kids outperformed their kindergarten peers who did not enjoy access – an advantage that equated to four to five months of learning gains, which is a substantial difference in development at that age and a meaningful advantage during the COVID-19 era.”

Child Care

  • $87 million in existing federal child care funds to increase child care base rates.

Base rates for CCW reimbursements will be increased to the 40th percentile of the market rate for child care in the provider’s region, up from approximately the 25th percentile where most of Pennsylvania’s child care providers currently sit. This change brings Pennsylvania closer to the federal government’s recommendation of reimbursing at the 75th percentile.

Trying Together and the ELPA campaigns commend the Wolf administration for this proposed change, however, the child care industry needs an additional boost.

“Pennsylvania’s working families struggled to find and afford high-quality child care prior to the pandemic. Today’s economic downturn has only exacerbated this problem,” the ELPA press release states. “Start Strong PA urges Governor Wolf and the Pennsylvania General Assembly to address these child care needs by quickly utilizing federal funds to serve 3,000 additional eligible infants and toddlers in high-quality slots through contracts, which provides greater financial stability to providers.”

Evidence-based Home Visiting

  • Level funding for home visiting.

The current public health crisis, isolation, stress, and unemployment have made home visiting more essential than ever. Trying Together and the ELPA campaigns hope to work collaboratively with the administration and legislature to expand evidence-based home visiting services to match that commitment with the resources to make it a reality.

We will advocate for these investments as the budget process continues. Stay up-to-date on how to advocate for these issues by signing-up to support Trying Together’s public policy agenda.

 

News

October 6, 2020

ECE Advocacy 101

Are you interested in learning how to use your experience and knowledge to advocate for early childhood? Join Trying Together on October 6 for our free virtual workshop, “ECE Advocacy 101.”

About

The ECE Advocacy 101 workshop is designed to break down the Pennsylvania budget cycle. Participants will receive an overview of the Early Learning PA (ELPA) campaigns, how Early Childhood Education programs are impacted by the budget process, and ways professionals and families can use their experience and knowledge to advocate. Participants will leave with foundational knowledge of the Pennsylvania budget, ELPA campaigns, and various advocacy actions they participate in or lead.

Session Details

    • Session Date: Tuesday, October 6, 2020  |  1:00 – 2:30 p.m.
    • Instructors: Cristina Codario, Emily Neff, and Lindsey Ramsey
    • Core Knowledge Area: Professional and Leadership
    • CDA Content Area: Maintaining Professionalism
    • Registration Deadline: Sunday, October 4, 2020

Registration

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 jasmine@tryingtogether.org for more information.

More Information

For questions or more information, contact Jasmine Davis at jasmine@tryingtogether.org.

News

May 2, 2019

No Small Matter Screening

Join co-hosts Trying Together and PUMP for a screening of “No Small Matter,” a documentary film that highlights the importance of high-quality early education and its impact on all Americans.

Itinerary

  • 6:00 – 6:30 p.m. | Dinner*
  • 6:30 – 7:15 p.m. | Screening
  • 7:15 – 7:45 p.m. | Panel Discussion
  • 7:45 – 8:00 p.m. | Action Item/Wrap-Up

*A light dinner will be provided.

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Registeration

Free child care will be available for children ages two to eight. Pre-registration is required for child care and space is limited. To register for child care, visit Sweet Dreams Child Care’s registration link​.

 

Questions

About No Small Matter

No Small Matter is the first feature documentary to explore the most overlooked, underestimated, and powerful force for good in America today: early childhood education. Through poignant stories and surprising humor, the film lays out the overwhelming evidence for the importance of the first five years, 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 country.