Community Partners E-News
April 2017
In Our Communities

Adams: Early learning partners in Adams County will celebrate Month of the Young Child on April 29 with their Community Celebration of Our Youngest Learners event in Gettysburg. Read more.

Since 2014, all 43 Allegheny County School Districts are committed to early and on-time kindergarten registration thanks to partnership with the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania, Allegheny Intermediate Unit, and Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children (PAEYC).  The results demonstrate the impact of their efforts: The average percentage of early registration is 82.1% and on-time is 95.5%. Read more.

Allegheny: Early learning partners in Allegheny County will celebrate Month of the Young Child throughout the month with multiple events. Read more.

Bucks: Celebrate Month of the Young Child with Bucks County early learning partners. There is something for everyone in the calendar of activities. Read more

Butler: Join early learning partners in Butler County as they celebrate Week of the Young Child on April 25. Read more.

Cambria: Early learning partners in Cambria County will celebrate Month of the Young Child on April 29 with Mini-Con in Johnstown. Read more.

Crawford: Early learning partners in Crawford County will celebrate Month of the Young Child on April 22 with the Second Annual Children's Day in Meadville. Read more.

Early learning partners in Cumberland County will celebrate Month of the Young Child on April 4 with Team UP for Families in Mechanicsburg. Read more.

Erie: Early learning partners in Erie County will celebrate Month of the Young Child on April 1 with the 11th Annual Early Learning Expo in Erie. Read more.

Franklin: Early learning partners in Franklin County will celebrate Month of the Young Child on April 22 with the Early Childhood Expo in Chambersburg. Read more.

Indiana: Early learning partners in Indiana County will celebrate Month of the Young Child on April 8 with the Bump, Baby, & Beyond Expo in Indiana. Read more.

Early March, community partners in Indiana County held the 2017 Annual Family Fun Fest. Participating groups and organizations provided activities to engage families, like the 4-H petting zoo, Travel to Mars experience, miniature ponies, parent-child look alike contest and more. Several hundred attendees participated in the event. For more information about the event, please contact Kathy Abbey-Baker at 724-463-8200 x 4218 or

Indiana: Early learning partners in Indiana County will celebrate Month of the Young Child on April 29 with Healthy Kids Day in Indiana. Read more.

Jefferson:  Jefferson County early learning partners come together for the T own Hall Talk on the Impact of Early Learning on April 13. Learn more .

McKean:  The McKean County Early Learning Outreach Committee hosted a free Early Childhood Symposium, "Celebration of Our Successes: Five Years of Collaboration" on March 7 at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford. The symposium was a celebration of the achievements of the county's early learning programs over the last five years and gave renewed focus to the challenges and investments which still need to be made. Read more.
Mercer: Early learning partners in Mercer County will be celebrating on April 22 with Kids Fest 2017. Read more.

Montgomery:  Pottstown Families, a new initiative of Pottstown School District and PEAK, is a one-stop shop for finding events and services in the Pottstown community. It launched on February 1, 2017, and continues to gain new community partners, showcasing local events and resources for individuals of all ages. Read more.

Share your outreach on PA's Promise for Children website! 
Submit online  or send to Mary at
Celebrating Month of the Young Child

Month of the Young Child is a time to focus public attention on the needs of young children and their families and to recognize the early childhood programs and services that meet those needs.

Since 1971, one week in April has been celebrated nationally as Week of the Young Child. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is holding its annual Week of the Young Child™ celebration from April 24 through April 28, 2017.  NAEYC is the world's largest early-childhood-education association with a network of over 300 affiliates across the country. 

Pennsylvania is taking it one step further and celebrating all month long! Celebrate with us and share the message of the importance of early learning. Check your county for fun ways to celebrate.
Encourage Families to Apply now for Scholarships to National Autism Conference
Applications due April 28

Do you know a family who would like to attend the National Autism Conference (NAC), July 31 - August 3, 2017 in State College? For Pennsylvania parents of children with autism enrolled in Early Intervention, scholarship applications are available to ALL who want to attend, not just those who are first-time attendees. Parent scholarships will cover the following:
  • complimentary conference registration for up to two parent(s)/guardian(s)
  • lodging reimbursement during the conference (receipts required) if live at least 30 miles from the conference location
  • mileage to be reimbursed at $.53/mile and tolls (receipts required)
  • meals up to per diem expense during reasonable travel periods that are NOT provided as part of the National Autism Conference
Interested? Check out the conference website Opportunities tab. Applications are available and due by Friday, April 28th. Spread the word to all parents/guardians who have children on the autism spectrum and let them know that Monday to Wednesday are especially good days for early childhood sessions.
Families Invited to Attend Event

Registration for families is open for the event, Families Coming Together: Promoting Inclusion for All Infants, Toddlers and Preschoolers, to be held on May 24 in Harrisburg.

As one voice, families can promote communities where all children can play, learn, and grow together!  Families can strengthen inclusive approaches and beliefs by identifying common ground, sharing joint
experiences and learning new information. 

Now is an exciting time for families to work together.  National and state policies support inclusion and research affirms that inclusion benefits everyone. Families have a vital role in this process. This event is open to all families of children birth to eight years old. Please encourage families in your community to register and attend. 

Share your PA One Book reader story 

Are you hosting a PA One Book reader? Share pictures and a short blurb and help document the impact of early literacy and the PA One Book program.

Send the picture and blurb to Mary at and you'll be notified when it goes live on the PA's Promise website. You can then share it with your families and friends!
Resources for Families & Staff: More than the PA One Book

Did you know the PA One Book website provides lots of information you can share with families and early learning providers in support children's love of reading? Share these resources via your website, social media, or newsletters. 
  • Websites & apps to help children learn using the PA One Book and related content.
  • Rhymes & songs that relate to Daniel Finds a Poem.
  • Fun Guide to help families and providers get the most out of the 2017 PA One Book.
  • Click the Resource tab to locate the 64 page activity guide!
You can also find information about the 2017 PA One Book author, Micha Archer, like where she will be a guest reader and a video on how she creates her books

What's your favorite PA One Book resource? Do you have a resource that's not listed? Share it on the PA One Book Facebook page!

Announcing Enhancements to the Standards Aligned System (SAS)
The Pennsylvania Standards Aligned System (SAS) is a collaborative product of research and good practice that identifies six distinct elements which, when utilized together, provide schools and districts a common framework for continuous school and district enhancement
and improvement. Much research has been conducted as to what makes a great school. There are many intangible components; however, research supports the notion that great schools and school systems tend to have six common elements that ensure Student Achievement: Clear Standards, Fair Assessments, Curriculum Framework, Instruction, Materials & Resources, and Interventions.
The PA Department of Education (PDE) and the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) are adding the Prekindergarten, Kindergarten, Grade 1, and Grade 2 Early Learning Standards to the SAS website, meaning they are no longer on a separate OCDEL page in SAS! By adding the Early Learning standards as part of the searchable standards, materials and resources are also to be linked directly to each standard. Additionally, this enhancement allows early learning providers and school districts to more easily align curriculum and support smooth transitions between programs.
Overview of SAS
PDE and OCDEL utilize a Standards Aligned System (SAS) that links the elements of instruction, materials and resources, curriculum framework, fair assessment and safe and supportive schools, and learning standards to children's engagement in learning and their school success.
Learning Standards are the framework for learning. They provide the foundational information for what children should know and be able to do. Pennsylvania's Learning Standards for Early Childhood build on information learned previously and link to content to be learned in higher grades, creating a continuum of learning that assures consistent and linked learning that begins in infancy, gradually getting more complex as it extends through high school.
Pennsylvania also uses program standards that assure children's experiences are being offered in high-quality settings. Keystone STARS, PA Pre-K Counts, school-based pre-kindergarten, Head Start Supplemental Assistance programs all use similar sets of standards that provide guidance on program operation that exhibit best practices.
Teachers must use both informal and formal assessments to understand children's progress. In early childhood, formative assessments that provide information about how children are progressing in the classroom allow teachers to make adaptations or adjustments in the individualized learning plans for every child.
Early childhood professionals observe and assess children within their classroom setting using materials found in the school environment with which children interact on a daily basis. This focus on authentic assessment provides an age appropriate means to understand how and what children are learning within early education settings. Blocks that children count or stack, for example, provide the information teachers need to understand children's math or fine motor skills. Outdoor play or recess allows the adult to observe children's gross motor skills or the social interactions with peers. Teachers must use the information they have documented during observation of authentic experiences, along with information from families, to understand the unique needs, learning styles and interests of individual children and to identify goals and next steps for children's learning.
A curriculum framework reminds us what information should be taught to young children within each of the Key Learning Areas. It assures the continuum of learning that begins at birth and continues through graduation. Pennsylvania's curriculum framework includes big ideas, essential questions, vocabulary, concepts and competencies that further define the learning standards. Pennsylvania's Learning Standards for Early Childhood provide a comprehensive curriculum framework for early childhood educators.
Instruction in the early years often looks different than in the older grades. Learning occurs within the context of play and active learning strategies where children are engaged in concrete and hands-on discovery and in experimentation and interaction with materials, their peers and nurturing adults.
Teachers help construct knowledge during these active learning times by designing activities that build on children's prior knowledge to create new understandings and information. A balance of direct teaching combined with child-initiated play produce optimal conditions for young children's education. Teachers become facilitators or guides of learning who interact with children throughout the school day. They ask open-ended questions that encourage children to think about things in more than one way and they support children's creativity, problem solving, intuition and inventiveness (approaches to learning) by challenging and encouraging them. Teachers design focused instruction that is based on the identified individual needs of every child and assure these experiences encompass their interests, abilities and culture.
Materials and resources within the Standards Aligned System provide multiple sources to enhance and support the integration of curriculum, instruction, and assessment. For early childhood, materials include links to relevant national, state, and research-based organizations, guides and links to activity based learning, and relevant book lists.
School engagement is essential towards building academic success and a positive school climate. Engagement in school is a process of events and opportunities that lead to students gaining the skills and confidence to cope and feel safe in the school environment. These events and opportunities include relationships, respect for diversity and school participation.
School safety refers to the security of the school setting and school-related activities as perceived and experienced by all stakeholders, including families, caregivers, students, school staff, and the community. School safety encompasses both emotional and physical safety, and is influenced by positive and negative behaviors of students and staff as well as the presence of substance use in the school setting and during school-related activities.
School environment refers to the extent to which school settings promote student safety and student health. Environment is inclusive of all aspects of a school - its academic components, its physical and mental health supports and services, its physical building and location within a community, and its disciplinary procedures.
How can SAS support collaborations across the P-3 continuum?
The elements that are defined within SAS, when combined, offer teachers connections with the learning to which children are exposed as they progress through their schooling experience.
  • Connects content: SAS demonstrates the emerging skills children experience in the early years and how the concepts increase in complexity as children mature
  • Connects teachers: SAS provides teachers a common framework for teaching and learning. This common framework allows teachers to communicate and plan for children's learning more effectively as children progress from classroom to classroom.
  • Connects families: Families are an integral part of the learning process. SAS allows families to see where learning expectations come from and how teachers integrate curriculum and assessment to enhance student growth and learning. Families connect with the learning cycle when they understand the importance of the information and support they can provide to teachers.
  • Connects schools: SAS is a statewide initiative and provides continuity across programs. Programs that use SAS, while maintaining their local focus, become part of statewide efforts to increase student growth and learning.
SAS can also be a tool used for curriculum alignment. The site provides a platform for:
  • Development of common language
  • Knowledge and respect of each other's worlds
  • A continuum of learning which builds on previous learning and can assist in preparing for next phase of learning
  • Shared resources
SAS has a variety of tools to support a smooth transition from pre-K to kindergarten.
  • Transition Toolkit: The ideas and information presented in this toolkit have come from a review of national research and a statewide collection of successful transition practices.
  • Tip Sheet: Reaching Out to Families: The ideas presented in this document can be used effectively to engage families as children transition to formal schooling.

Why am I getting this email?
OCDEL recognizes that many community based groups across the commonwealth are doing similar work and are comprised of similar team members. This newsletter can be used to help promote collaboration and awareness of others across the commonwealth. The goal is that as groups become aware of each other, events can be coordinated, resources shared and leveraged.  Check your email's in-box for future editions!
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