March 14, 2023

Early Childhood Education Beginning Business Administration Series for Family Providers

Children’s Village’s Learning Lab and Early Learning Resource Center Region 18 are offering business administration training to center- and family- based child care program directors at every level of experience.

This virtual, four-session series is designed to improve fiscal and human resources practices. Topics will include the iron triangle, budgeting, financial statements, personnel management, and other business issues.

Series Details

  • Tuesday, March 21 | 12:30 – 2:30 p.m. | Virtual via Zoom
  • Tuesday, March 28 | 12:30 – 2:30 p.m. | Virtual via Zoom
  • Monday, April 17 | 12:30 – 2:30 p.m. | Virtual via Zoom
  • Monday, April 24 | 12:30 – 2:30 p.m. | Virtual via Zoom


To register for this event, complete the application form and email the completed form to Huan Chen at

Learn More

Participants are expected to:

  1. attend all sessions
  2. arrive on time
  3. stay for the entire scheduled session
  4. participate during sessions
  5. complete a pre/post assessment

To learn more, visit the Children’s Village website.


July 26, 2021

CDA Program Available At No Cost to Eligible Professionals

Looking to receive a Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential? Check out our programs to get certified, renew your certification, and more!

What is a CDA Credential?

A CDA Credential is the most widely recognized credential in the early childhood field and is a key stepping stone on the path to career advancement. The credential enables professionals to work in Head Start and Early Head Start classrooms, in addition to early learning programs across the United States, and provides opportunities for increased pay.



Trying Together’s CDA Programs

Trying Together offers the following CDA programs at no cost to eligible early childhood professionals in Pennsylvania:

CDA Credential Preparation Program

    • 135 hours of professional development over the course of six to nine months.
    • Focused on practice knowledge and skills professionals need to become credentialled.
    • Matriculate up to nine course credits at Carlow University once you obtain your credential.

CDA Credential Community of Practice Program

    • Focused on the completion of the CDA Credential portfolio requirements and preparing for the CDA Credential exam.
    • Intended for professionals who completed the necessary requirements for a CDA Credential.
    • Explores the current theory, research, and best practices related to early childhood.

CDA Credential Renewal Program

    • Offers support to professionals who are interested in renewing their CDA Credentials.
    • Reviews current literature, strategies, materials, technology skills, and health and safety standards that are relevant to the early childhood field.



An Interview with Our CDA Instructors

To get a better understanding of Trying Together’s CDA programs, we conducted an interview with the former Director of Learning and Development Rachelle Duffy, in addition to Workforce Development Strategist Theresa Hetler and former Innovative Learning Strategist Mimi Loughead.

CDA Preparation Program Questions

How is the program structured?

At first, the program consisted of monthly face-to-face meetings. But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we moved to a virtual format where professionals meet twice per month on Zoom to discuss face-to-face and complete online coursework through Schoology. All of our content is pulled directly from what the CDA Council suggests for the test.

How many hours are included?

While the CDA Council only requires 120 hours, we recognize that some professionals may experience barriers such as working full-time or care responsibilities that may impact their ability to attend class. Our program offers 135 hours, creating a buffer of 15 hours, to ensure professionals stay on track and meet their hour requirements.

Another reason we offer 135 hours is that it actually breaks down into the possibility of matriculating credit into higher education really well. You need to have 45 hours of training for one three-credit course in higher education. Participants can actually transfer the hours they complete in our program to complete three courses at higher education institutions like Carlow University.

What is the typical timeline?

About six to nine months.

What will participants learn?

Trying Together’s program covers a large range of topics including, but not limited to:

    • health and safety in the classroom;
    • observations and assessments;
    • cognitive, physical, language, and literacy development;
    • program and classroom management;
    • the process to become a program director or owner;
    • creating positive relationships with families; and
    • professionalism.

Participants learn how to manage a classroom, build a lesson plan, engage with young children, support every child’s learning, and new ideas they can implement into their program.

What makes the program different or special?

Our instructors get to know each participant individually and build the program around each person’s needs. We recognize that each professional has barriers in their life, whether that is working several jobs, care responsibilities, or other life circumstances. We build our program around what each person needs to succeed.

Our instructors review every participant’s prior coursework, transcripts, experience, and training to make sure they receive hours for things they already completed rather than repeating those courses. This helps professionals meet that 135-hour requirement. We also offer support through the entire process from day one to completing their portfolio, scheduling observations, and taking their test. Not all programs do that.

We also have connections with many organizations in the early childhood field. Through our programs, professionals can access opportunities such as the Early Childhood Education Advocacy Fellowship, UnConferences, community events, and more.

What is provided?

    • Books and coursework from the CDA Council.
    • Information on upcoming professional development sessions and online materials.
    • Technical support and training on how to access and use the online tools and resources we provide.
    • We lend and technology out to participants who need it. If you are unable to purchase a CDA book, or if you do not have a computer at home, we can personally deliver these materials to you and provide a tutorial on how to use the computer if needed.
    • Helpful articles, videos, and other resources that can enhance your practice.
    • Discussion opportunities with other professionals in the field. Professionals can talk with each other about issues they are experiencing and brainstorm solutions.

General Questions

What are the benefits of having a CDA Credential?

    • Often recognized as the first step a professional can take to begin their journey on Pennsylvania’s formalized Career Lattice and is a great place to start in terms of personal growth and development.
    • If you are worried about higher education being overwhelming, this is a great opportunity to ease into it and get acquainted with the education process, while still receiving a credential.

What do the programs do?

Our programs support early learning professionals in building their knowledge/skillsets, gaining confidence in the classroom, and advancing their careers in the field. We want to ensure that every professional feels confident and comfortable in seeking out and applying for education opportunities, including those offered at higher education institutions, after the program as well.

What inspired the creation of these programs?

Trying Together wanted to have community-based CDA programs that meet the needs of individuals and professionals of all ages who may or may not have experience in higher education. This credential is often thought of as the first stepping stone into either high-paying jobs and/or a credentialing system that involves a degree, and we wanted to make that accessible.

What has the community response been? Are a lot of people participating?

We received a rapid increase in community response, so much to the point where we are receiving applicants from individuals inside and outside of Pennsylvania. To account for this, we had to split up our applicants into several cohorts throughout the year to make sure every eligible professional receives the support and guidance they need to succeed.

Our average cohort size is about 25 to 30 students. Even while a cohort is actively running, we have had Directors reach out to us to ask if additional staff members can join.

What is the Professional Development Organization?

The Professional Development Organization (PDO) is a grant-funded education collaboration among four universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) and numerous partner universities, colleges, and community programs across the state to advance career pathways of the early childhood workforce.

    • The PDO covers tuition, expenses, and other supports to help eligible early childhood educators earn credit-bearing Child Development Associate (CDA) Credentials, Associate’s Degrees, and Bachelor’s Degrees.



More Information

For more information, visit our CDA Credential page. To ask a question about our programs, contact Theresa Hetler at or Lindsey Vicoria at For eligibility questions, contact Judy Graca at


November 20, 2020

Tuition-Free Courses Available for ECE Professionals

Are you an early learning professional who is interested in earning an Associate’s Degree, Bachelor’s Degree, or Child Development Certificate? No- and low-cost options are available for eligible professionals in Pennsylvania through the Professional Development Organization (PDO).

Professional Development Organization

The Professional Development Organization (PDO) is a grant-funded educational collaboration among four universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) and numerous partner universities, colleges, and community programs across the state to advance the career pathways of the early childhood workforce. PDO funding covers tuition, expenses, and other supports to help eligible early childhood educators earn credit-bearing credentials and degrees.

Tuition-Free Courses

Tuition-free courses are eligible for early childhood professionals who:

    • are Pennsylvania residents,
    • work in a Keystone STARS program, and
    • work a minimum average of 25 hours per week over an entire work year (during non-COVID times).

To determine your eligibility, complete the online application. Once your eligibility is confirmed, a PDO Liaison from your region will contact you to discuss your professional development options.

Available Pathways

The following pathways are available to advance your academic and professional development:

    • Child Development Associate Certificate (CDA)
    • Associate’s Degree, Early Childhood Education
    • Bachelor’s Degree, Early Childhood Education

Steps To Take

If you are interested in taking advantage of this limited-time opportunity, complete these three steps:

    • Apply for Tuition Assistance 

      Complete the application. Once submitted, an ECE Liaison will contact you to confirm your eligibility for tuition assistance, guide you through the application at a PDO partner university, college, or program, and help you register for classes. Be sure to check your spam folder as it may contain an email from your ECE Liaison.

    • Register for Classes 

      Class offerings at all schools and programs may change each semester. Check with an ECE Liaison or the school for details. View this document for examples of available classes.

More Information

For more information, contact Mimi Loughead at

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October 30, 2020

School’s Out! Challenges and Solutions for School-Age Programs

Are you interested in exploring common challenges and solutions for school-age programs? Join presenters Tracy Galuski, Ph.D., Arlene Rider, Ph.D., and Nadia J. Jones, Ed.D. on November 18 for “School’s Out! Challenges and Solutions for School-Age Programs: Meaningful Activities.”


Professionals who work with school-age children in out-of-school environments often struggle with ways to keep the children engaged in programs that run before and after the structured school day. Children have varied needs, and program staff are often dealing with challenges such as a restrictive environment, mixed groupings, and varied schedules.

Within the context of child development, this webinar offers a child-centered approach to developing activities that engage and enhance the program. Participants will explore a number of common challenges along with some possible solutions that can be adapted and applied in their work. Time for questions will be provided.

Featured Topics

This webinar will:

    • review typical learning centers in school-age programs,
    • explore developmental stages and how child development informs practice, and
    • discuss challenges and solutions related to the environment and activities.


This webinar is best suited for practioneres in before- and after-school programs in a variety of settings. To register, visit the EdWeb website.


October 12, 2020

Grants Available for Child Care Programs

In partnership with the Pennsylvania Key, the GIANT Company is offering a grant opportunity for early childhood education providers licensed by and in good standing with the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS).


Through this grant opportunity, early learning programs can apply for grants ranging from $2,000 to $10,000. This funding is intended to assist programs with meeting the unique needs of families and children served during the pandemic. These needs may include, but are not limited to, increased staffing, expanded operating hours, care of school-age children, Personal Protective Equipment or other sanitation measures, increased technology needs or services, school-age virtual learning labs, serving of meals, or addressing food insecurity needs of families and children served.

Eligibility Criteria

    • Applicants must operate a family child care home, group child care home, or child care center that is licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services; the program must be in good standing with DHS.
    • Applicants must serve families that receive child care subsidy/Child Care Works funding or demonstrate other means of serving families in need.
    • Applicants must remain operational through part of all of the COVID-19 pandemic and provide services to children in any age range (birth through school-age).
    • The early childhood education facility must be located in one of the following counties: Adams, Berks, Blair, Bucks, Carbon, Centre, Chester, Clearfield, Columbia, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Fayette, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Indiana, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Luzerne, Lycoming, Mifflin, Monroe, Montgomery, Montour, Northampton, Perry, Philadelphia, Schuylkill, Snyder, Union, York.

Submit An Application

To apply for a grant, visit the Pennsylvania Key website. All applications are due by 5 p.m. on Friday, November 13, 2020. Funds will be dispersed by January 29, 2021.


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 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 24, 2020

KidSMART Club At Home Program

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Citiparks will offer its KidSMART Club as an at-home program for children in grades three, four, and five. An option for pre-kindergarten children is also available.


KidSMART Club is an afterschool program developed by Citiparks for children in grades three, four, and five. A pre-k option is also available and is best suited for children ages three to five years old. The program features a series of activities that explore science, math, art, reading, technology, and more! This year, the Club will be offered as an at-home program for 11 weeks with each week offering a new theme of learning.

Themes and Dates

Club members who complete six weeks or more of STEM/STEAM projects will be eligible for a chance to win cool prizes! View the full list of upcoming sessions below.

    • Week 1: Art Explosion, Multimedia Art Studio 
      October 5 – 9, 2020
    • Week 2: Wide World of Sports
      October 12 – 16, 2020
    • Week 3: Urban Adventures
      October 19 – 23, 2020
    • Week 4: DIY Maker Lab, “I Made It With Citiparks”
      October 26 – 30, 2020
    • Week 5: Comic Central
      November 2 – 6, 2020
    • Week 6: X-Treme Science
      November 9 – 13, 2020
    • Week 7: Create With The Masters
      November 16 – 20, 2020
    • Week 8: Junior Chef – Holiday Kit
      November 23 – 27, 2020
    • Week 9: Space Station Pittsburgh
      November 30 – December 4, 2020
    • Week 10: Holidays Around The World
      December 7 – 11, 2020
    • Week 11: KidSMART – Holiday Kit
      December 14 – 18, 2020


Registration is required to participate. When registering, you must select a pickup location for your weekly at-home kits. Kit pickup will occur every Monday (beginning October 5) from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. at one of the following Citipark Recreation Center locations:

To register, complete the KidSMART Club Registration Form. This registration reserves your kit for an 11-week period through the end of 2020. Space is limited.

More Information

For more information, visit the KidSMART Club webpage.

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September 11, 2020

Boosting Enrollment When Your Program Needs it Most

Do you need to boost your early learning program’s enrollment numbers? Join presenters Kathe and Molly Petchel on October 14 for their webinar, “Boosting Enrollment When Your Program Needs it Most.”


As early learning programs across the nation adapt to constantly changing protocols and safety regulations, many are anxious about their program’s chance for survival as they struggle to balance the need to build enrollment quickly and the need to develop post-COVID-19 systems and procedures.

During this webinar, Kathe and Molly Petchel will look at fail-proof systems that will lead your program to quality, while considering the overall challenges. With easy to implement ideas on how to get your program back to full enrollment, curated resources, and systems templates, Kathe and Molly will provide hands-on strategies to implement.

Featured Topics

Participants will learn about the following topics:

    • The Figure 8: Essential Items on our Preschool Quality Checklist.
    • Systems: What Gets Inspected Gets Respected. Checklists, Rubrics, and Accountability.
    • Marketing: 5 Strategies to implement by Monday.


To register, visit the event webpage. Live attendance spots are limited. Arrive early to make sure you get in.

This webinar will be recorded. If you are unable to attend but wish to receive the recording, complete the online registration form and you will receive an email with a link to the recording when it is available.