2024 Pennsylvania Head Start Wages and Benefits Comparability Survey
The Pennsylvania Head Start Association (PHSA) is sponsoring the 2024 Pennsylvania Head Start Wages and Benefits Comparability Survey and has hired PHMC’s Research & Evaluation Group (PHMC REG) to conduct the project. This survey, which PHSA members participate in to meet their federal Head Start grant requirements, compares the wages and benefits of Head Start grantees to other organizations that employ similar types of staff. Your organization may be a good source of comparable information. The survey is open for the month of March. Organizations that complete the survey will receive a $100 gift card. If you would like more information or have any questions about the survey, please email email@example.com.
The winter season has challenges for children, families and staff remaining healthy. Check out the tips from the Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) to keep children, families and early childhood education (ECE) staff healthy this winter season. The printable flyers for families and for ECE staff are available in English and Spanish.
Pennsylvania recently expanded the Child and Dependent Care Enhancement Tax Credit. The expansion of this credit will be a major help to working families with children in child care and other people in the Commonwealth who are caring for a family member.
The Child and Dependent Care Enhancement Tax Credit that is available to Pennsylvanians is based on the federal Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. That means taxpayers must receive the federal credit to also be eligible for the state credit in Pennsylvania. The state credit is equal to 100 percent of the federal credit, meaning:
· The maximum credit will be $1,050 (one child) or $2,100 (two or more children)
· The credit cap phases down as income levels increase.
· The minimum credit will be $600 (one child) or $1,200 (two or more children).
Pennsylvania recently launched PA Navigate, a new website that connects residents to community organizations, government agencies and health care providers for access to resources for basic needs, such as food, housing and child care.
PA Navigate is designed to address health and social care needs of residents by bridging the gap between health care systems and social services organizations. It allows residents to search and connect to supports for financial assistance, food pantries, medical care and other free or reduced-cost help in times of need. Individuals can refer themselves for services through PA Navigate, or connect with health care providers and organizations.
The website was created through work by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, several health information organizations, state agencies, counties, local nonprofits, community organizations, health care entities and social services providers.
The Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) Bureau of Early Learning Policy and Professional Development, has released the Announcement ELRC 23 #05 Keystone STARS Continuous Quality Improvement Award.
This Announcement announces the Keystone STARS Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) Awards, a one-time Award paid to eligible child care programs with a Department of Human Services (DHS) regular Certificate of Compliance (CoC) and designated as a Keystone STAR 2, 3, or 4. This Award is paid through Early Learning Resource Centers (ELRCs), on behalf of the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL), directly to eligible child care programs.
Keystone STARS is an initiative of OCDEL to improve, support, and recognize the quality of Pennsylvania’s early learning and school-age programs. Providing financial awards, including tiered reimbursement, to Keystone STAR 2, 3, and 4 providers is one strategy implemented by OCDEL to improve early learning outcomes. To further support all Keystone STAR 2, 3, and 4 programs within the early childhood education (ECE) industry, DHS approved a one-time Keystone STARS CQI Award using federal Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) funds.
For additional information, including general provider eligibility requirements, policy exceptions, award amounts, allowable and ineligible expenses, award process and timelines, please see the Announcement ELRC 23 #05 Keystone STARS Continuous Quality Improvement Award.
If you are a child care provider in ELRC Region 3 please contact Kathy Hanley if you have specific questions about this grant at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) would like to recognize those in the early childhood education field who have made accomplishments in the following areas:
· Academic (Academic accomplishment recognition can include directors, classroom and support staff in an early learning program.)
· Years of Service (Completed years are recognized in increments of 10, 15, 20 and 25+ years only.)
These recognitions are applicable to all staffing positions within an early learning program, including, but not limited to:
· Classroom staff (teachers, aides, etc.)
· Support staff (receptionists, janitors, kitchen staff, etc.)
Submissions can be nominations (submitted by someone else), or self-submitted (submitted by the individual to be recognized) and will be collected on an on-going basis. Eligible submissions will receive a letter of recognition from OCDEL Deputy Secretary, Shante' Brown. Click here to submit a nomination
The Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL), Bureau of Early Learning Policy and Professional Development and Bureau of Certification have released an updated Approved Pediatric First Aid and CPR List of Providers. The update includes the addition of the Pacific Medical Training. View the updated listing.
Child care staff and providers are advised to contact their local Early Childhood Education Professional Development Organizations (ECE PDOs) for access to free, Pennsylvania Quality Assurance System (PQAS) approved, Pediatric First Aid and Pediatric CPR training.
The Program Quality Assessment (PQA) Team has announced the addition of three asynchronous professional development sessions to the PD Registry. The sessions are: Online Self-Paced Foundations of the Environment Rating Scale, event ID# 361128, Online Self-Paced School-Age Care Environment Rating Scale – Updated (SACERS-U), event ID# 361129, and Online Self-Paced Pennsylvania Foundations of the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS), event ID# 361130. Register for these online self-paced PD sessions by visiting the PD Registry.
Efforts to translate these session into Spanish are in progress. The PQA Team will continue to create additional program observation instrument online self-paced PD sessions throughout the 2023-2024 program year. Subscribe to The Buzz on PD in PA to be notified of future releases.
The Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) has released the Announcement ELRC 23-04: 2023 Keystone STARS Performance Standards, Program Manual, and Accompanying Resources. This Announcement shares information on the 2023 updated Keystone STARS Performance Standards, Program Manual, and Accompanying Resources.
On May 16, 2022, the most recent version of the Keystone STARS Performance Standards and Program Manual were released and became effective July 1, 2022. Since that time, OCDEL has received feedback from the field related to professional development in Keystone STARS Staff Qualification (SQ) indicators. OCDEL examined the feedback and used it to make edits to a limited number of quality indicators that will become effective on October 1, 2023.
Additionally, the 2023 Keystone STARS Program Manual features updated and additional information and resources for 2023.
This announcement becomes effective October 1, 2023, and will replace in its entirety ELRC Announcement 22 #04 Keystone STARS Performance Standards and Program Manual and all accompanying documents.
For complete information, please see the Announcement ELRC 23-04: 2023 Keystone STARS Performance Standards, Program Manual, and Accompanying Resources.
Early childhood educators and partners--there's still time to order a free set of the poster series for helping kids who have experienced trauma from Heal PA and Bright Start. Bright Kids. Bright Futures. Each set contains four posters focusing on ages 0-3 and 3-6 years which feature information on:
· What are ACEs?
· Signs and Symptoms of Traumatic Stress
· Children can cope with trauma and build resiliency
· Tips for Educators: Taking care of yourself
Early childhood educators and partners can display the posters where families and staff can view the information. Posters are available at no cost and available in English and Spanish. Supplies are limited. Click here to view/download the posters and click here to order a set of the posters.
The State Interagency Coordinating Council (SICC) co-chairs, Sadia Batool and Kate McKinnon, recently met with Pennsylvania Department of Human Services Secretary Arkoosh and Governor Shapiro’s Deputy Chief of Staff Lindsey Mauldin to present the 2021-2022 Annual Report of the Pennsylvania State Interagency Coordinating Council (SICC) for Early Intervention and to discuss the important role families play in the SICC, as well as Family Leadership opportunities offered by OCDEL’s Bureau of Early Intervention Services and Family Supports (BEISFS).
The deadline for Pennsylvania certified child care providers to order one or two Carbon Monoxide Detectors has been extended until June 30, 2023.
The Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) is making these detectors available to certified child care providers, but the ordering and placement of detectors is not a regulatory requirement. Certified child care providers should have received an email from School Health on Wednesday, March 1, 2023, with directions. See the original release for more details.
There will be an increase to base rates paid by PA Department of Human Services (DHS) to certified child care providers participating in Child Care Works (CCW). Base payment rates are also known as the Maximum Child Care Allowance (MCCA).
Effective March 1, 2023, OCDEL is implementing increases to the MCCA rates. Learn more.
Pennsylvania Family and Group Child Care Home providers are invited to serve on a new Committee which will form a culturally relevant and diverse group of Family Child Care Home (FCCH) and Group Child Care Home (GCCH) Educators that is representative of the state of Pennsylvania. This group of child care providers will connect to celebrate and share their strengths and uniqueness with each other.
Participants will engage in discussions regarding resources, opportunities, and concerns specific to FCCH and GCCH providers, and discuss state and federal updates and initiatives and how they relate to their business. They will also have opportunities to share their strengths and struggles with other FCCH and GCCH providers, develop and enhance their leadership skills to give voice to the importance of FCCH and GCCH in the field of early childhood education.
Meetings will be held virtually by Zoom in the evening, on a quarterly basis, with the opportunity to meet with the FCCH Coordinator during monthly office hours. Date and time of first meeting is to be announced.
If you were an initial member of the FCCH or GCCH Workgroup, or are interested in lending your voice by joining this exciting and important networking opportunity, please click here to share your interest. Sign up by March 20, 2023! For more info, see the flyer.
The Approved Pediatric First Aid and Pediatric CPR Providers and Curriculums chart has been updated to include the number of PQAS hours participants will be awarded. These hours are based on the average length of the events scheduled for the course. This may or may not reflect the actual time frame of the scheduled event or “seat time.” Pediatric First Aid and CPR course lengths vary due to factors, such as number of participants and time needed for skill practice.
As a reminder, Pediatric First Aid & Pediatric Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) can also count towards the annual minimum 12 clock hours for certification regulatory compliance based on the renewal of the training certificate.
View the chart and learn more at pakeys.org/firstaidcpr
On October 27, 2022, the PA Department of Health announced via their Health Alert Network that Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) activity is increasing in Pennsylvania and nationwide, and levels are higher than usual for this time of year. Child care providers need to be aware of this dramatic rise in RSV cases because some children can get very sick and need hospitalization.
Please note, individual cases of RSV are not required to be reported to your regional certification office or Department of Health (DOH).
Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022, is the deadline to submit your information for the 2022 Child Care Market Rate Survey. Submit your responses by then and make an impact in future child care related programming and policy decisions, including Child Care Works rate setting.
Do you have questions about the 2022 Child Care Market Rate Survey, didn't receive one, or need help submitting the survey? Contact the Institute of State and Regional Affairs at ChildCareResearch@psu.edu or leave a toll-free voicemail at
(866) 982-6433. Learn more.
New Location Below - Same Phone and Fax Numbers
303 Beaver Valley Mall Rt. 18
Monaca, PA 15061
Phone: (724) 847-0145
Toll-Free: (800) 322-8504
Fax: (724) 847-1593
Pennsylvania's early childhood educators should soon receive a letter via the United States Postal Service (USPS) to complete the official OCDEL's Market Rate Survey. As a reminder, the official Market Rate Survey will be sent from Penn State Harrisburg and OCDEL and will be arriving in the mail (NOT via email). This survey is being mailed to all licensed child care facilities in Pennsylvania and may be completed online OR on paper. The letter was printed on light purple / lilac paper and the envelope looks like this. The letter and the online survey will contain OCDEL's logo (as shown in this email.) Check your postal system's mail box for your letter with additional instructions. Get more info.
The Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning, Bureau of Early Learning Policy and Professional Development has released the Announcement ELRC 22-04, 2022 Keystone STARS Performance Standards and Program Manual. The Announcement provides the 2022 updated Keystone STARS Performance Standards, Program Manual, and corresponding resource documents.
Your access can be found on the Pennsylvania Key website where you will:
1. Search for your Early Learning Resource Center (ELRC) Region,
2. Click on the link and you will be directed to the login page for Healthy Minds.
3. After that, just download the app on your smart phone device and get started.
Your ELRC colleagues have been using the Healthy Minds app, too, and are ready to support you with Communities of Practice (CoP) in your region. Soon, your ELRC’s will be sending out communications on how to participate in the CoP. These are short sessions (15-minutes) where you can engage in a mindful practice together and talk about successes and challenges in practicing. Coming together with other professionals in the field to support one another’s well-being is a powerful moment!
OCDEL recognizes this is just one of many tools and resources in your well-being journey and sincerely hopes you will take advantage of the opportunity and invest in yourself. Should you have any questions about the application, you can connect with the Healthy Minds team. There is a Help Center in the settings section of the app. If you have questions regarding a CoP, please contact your regional ELRC and if you have questions about the overall program, contact Dr. Marnie Aylesworth at the Pennsylvania Key email@example.com.
On March 29, 2022, the Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL), Bureau of Early Learning Policy and Professional Development and Bureau of Certification released the Health & Safety FAQs. The FAQ document provides detail relating to professional development, compliance with new certification requirements, cost of trainings, and more. See the FAQs for more information.
Best Practices and Resources for Child Care Providers - Updates
To protect yourself and others from COVID-19, CDC continues to recommend masking is a critical public health tool for preventing spread of COVID-19, and it is important to remember that any mask is better than no mask. Learn about the types of masks and respirators.
Overall Key Updates (Provided by the CDC, issued January 28, 2022:):
· Masks and respirators are effective at reducing transmission of the Coronavirus when worn consistently and correctly.
· Choose a well-fitting and comfortable mask or respirator that your child can wear properly. A poorly fitting or uncomfortable mask or respirator might be worn incorrectly or removed often, and that would reduce its intended benefits.
· Choose a size that fits over the child’s nose and under the chin but does not impair vision.
· If your child has a hard time breathing, gets dizzy, or has other symptoms while you are trying to get the mask to fit better or when using an ASTM F3502 mask or a respirator, choose a regular cloth or disposable mask. They should continue to follow CDC guidance to protect themselves and others. Consult your healthcare provider if these symptoms do not resolve.
· Parents and caregivers may have questions about NIOSH-approved respirators (such as N95s) for children. Although respirators may be available in smaller sizes, they are typically designed to be used by adults in workplaces, and therefore have not been tested for broad use in children.
· Clear masks or cloth masks with a clear plastic panel are an alternative type of mask that may be helpful when interacting with certain groups of people
Resources: Child-sized high quality respirator masks (KN95/N95).
Read more on the Pennsylvania Key website.
Updated Counties for Department of Health (DOH) Early Childhood Education COVID-19 Reporting Options
The Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) has provided two (2) options for Department of Human Services (DHS) certified child care facilities to report positive COVID-19 cases, either by email or phone. This resource has updated counties and provides an outline of the process that should be followed when reporting cases to DOH. Get more info.
Increase to Child Care Works Base Payment Rates
The Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL), Bureau of Early Learning Policy and Professional Development has released Announcement ELRC 21-11 Increase to Child Care Works Base Payment Rates. This Announcement shares information regarding an increase to base rates paid by DHS to certified child care providers participating in Child Care Works (CCW).
Effective Jan. 1, 2022, OCDEL will implement another increase to CCW subsidy base rates. The initiative includes both an increase to the 60th percentile for subsidy base rates paid to DHS certified child care providers and an increase of $1 per day for Relative Providers. This change brings Pennsylvania closer to the federal government’s recommendation of reimbursing child care providers at the 75th percentile.
For details, please see the Announcement ELRC 21-11 Increase to Child Care Works Base Payment Rates.
Announcement 21 #09 Child Care Works (CCW) Payment During the Ongoing Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
The Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL), Bureau of Early Learning Policy and Professional Development, has released the Announcement 21 #09 Child Care Works (CCW) Payment During the Ongoing Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). The Announcement provides updated guidance regarding Child Care Works (CCW) payment to child care programs participating in CCW and to ELRC staff. This updated policy obsoletes the following announcements in their entirety effective Sept. 30, 2021:
· ELRC Policy Announcement 21 #06 Restoring Child Care Works Invoicing, Attendance and Payment Policies
· ELRC Policy Announcement 21 #04 Child Care Works Payment During the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19); and
ELRC Policy Announcement 20 #17 Child Care Works Payment During the Proclamation of Disaster Emergency
COVID Vaccine Booster Information
On Friday, Sept. 24, 2021, the CDC issued the recommendation for Comirnaty Pfizer-BioNTech booster doses for the following populations, at least six months following the second dose of their Pfizer primary series:
people 65 years and older and residents in long-term care settings aged 18 and above should receive a booster of the Pfizer-BioNTech Vx, people aged 50–64 years with underlying medical conditions should receive a booster of the Pfizer-BioNTech Vx, people aged 18–49 years with underlying medical conditions may receive a booster of the Pfizer-BioNTech Vx, based on their individual benefits and risks, and people aged 18-64 years who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting may receive a booster shot of of the Pfizer-BioNTech Vx, based on their individual benefits and risks. Working in child care where children cannot be vaccinated yet is an occupational risk.
Following this recommendation, eligible individuals should be able to begin scheduling appointments and receiving booster doses.
The dosage and medicine of the Comirnaty Pfizer BioNTech vaccine are the same in the primary doses, the additional doses for people with compromised immune systems, and the booster doses for people over age 65 and at high risk for COVID-19.
Please await further public health guidance regarding booster doses for individuals who received the Moderna or Janssen vaccines for their primary series. The publicly available evidence for booster doses of the Moderna and Janssen vaccines to date is encouraging, and the Department of Health awaits the FDA and CDC’s decisions.
Thank you for all you have done and will continue to do to protect Pennsylvanians from COVID-19.
COVID-19 Vaccination for Pregnant People to Prevent Serious Illness, Deaths, and Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes from COVID-19
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends urgent action to increase Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccination among people who are pregnant, recently pregnant (including those who are lactating), who are trying to become pregnant now, or who might become pregnant in the future. CDC strongly recommends COVID-19 vaccination either before or during pregnancy because the benefits of vaccination outweigh known or potential risks. Read more.
See additional information below this great video!!!
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The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is now accepting applications.
They should apply via the COMPASS website and DHS will determine eligibility.
www.compass.state.pa.us or by phone at 1-866-550-4355. On-site County Assistance Office (CAO) services are available if clients cannot access online services or need assistance that cannot be accessed through the COMPASS website, the myCOMPASS PA mobile app, or by calling the Customer Service Centers at 215-560-7226 for Philadelphia clients or 1-877-395-8930 for clients in all other counties.