July 2022
Fun activities, aligned with the Pennsylvania Early Learning Standards, to help prepare children for school success!
We're Learning While Doing Laundry!
Do you have clothes hanging on the line to dry? Use this time to play peek-a-boo with your baby using the hanging laundry. Point out the moving laundry as the wind blows and the shadows created by the clothes and the sun. Carry your baby in your arms or on your shoulders, or push them in a stroller or wheelchair. Encourage them to reach and stretch and touch the fabrics and feel and see the sun and shadows. Read more!

Have your toddler help separate by same and different (color, types of clothing, your clothes/their clothes, etc.) and then offer two boxes or baskets of different sizes. Tell them, "Put this in the big basket/little basket." Encourage fine motor skills by using a clothes pin and asking them to match a pair of socks, then clip them together. If they have motor difficulties, have them direct you where to put the items. If they are unable to provide verbal directions, ask them, "Does it go in the big/little basket?" and encourage their respond with a head shake or nod for yes or no. Read more!

Help your preschooler develop their language skills by using possessives ("Here is Mommy's shirt"), possessive pronouns ("Here is my shirt, this is your shirt. Where is your shirt?"), and prepositions ("The sock is under the shirt!"). Ask them, "Who's shirt is this?" "It's Daddy's shirt!" Feel free to sing these phrases as well. Read more!

Ask your kindergartner why we wash our clothes. Where does the water come from that fills the washer? Do they know why laundry detergent is needed? Help to read the simple words on appliance, like ON and OFF. Listen to the washer agitate the clothes and spin the water out of the drum. Ask them to mimic those sounds. When the clothes are clean, transfer them to the dryer together. Ask how the clothes feel. Once in the dryer, listen together as the dryer tumbles the clothes and describe that sound. Listen for the buzzer to signal the completion of the cycle. Remove the clothes from the dryer with their assistance. Ask how the clothes feel, how they smell, and what temperature they are now. Read more!
10 Books About Doing Laundry
Wanda’s Washing Machine  by Anna McQuinn
Llamas in the Laundry  by W. H. New
Stinky Clothes  by Joanna Emery
Knuffle Bunny  by Mo Willems
Mrs. McNosh Hangs Up Her Wash  by Sarah Weeks
Henry Helps with Laundry  by Beth Bracken
Dirty Laundry Pile  by Paul B. Janeczko
The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash  by Trinka Hakes Noble
Laundry Day  by Maurie J. Manning
Smelling Sunshine  by Constance Anderson

Join Weeks 5-8 on the Summer Learning and Literacy Road Trip

During July, join the virtual road trip to explore the Beaver Area Memorial Library, Erie County Public Library, Lackawanna County Library System, and Upper Darby Township & Sellers Memorial Free Public Library.

Print the Road Map and My Summer Learning and Literacy Road Trip Travel Journal and share with your child. My Summer Learning and Literacy Road Trip Travel Journal is a great way to help children explore books and fun activities. Each week, discover something new with children, then help them complete their Travel Journal.

Resources are available in English and Spanish.
What Families Need to Know about the COVID Vaccine for Their Child
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The past two years have been a challenging time for families and caregivers of children under the age of five. With the recent availability of and recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the COVID-19 vaccine for children age six months through four years, families and caregivers may have questions or concerns about the vaccine and their child.

Healthychildren.org (from the American Academy of Pediatrics) offers this article, What Should Parents Know About the COVID Vaccine for Kids Under 5? which provides information about:
  • What parents should know about COVID vaccine safety for kids under 5
  • What's happening with COVID-19 right now
  • What else parents can do to protect kids under 5

Sesame Street has new resources that let families know it’s okay to have questions about getting their children vaccinated and to encourage parents and caregivers to get informed about the COVID-19 vaccines. Watch Elmo get the vaccine video, print the You can do it poster and the printable Questions for my Doctor sheet.

Make sure any information you receive and read about the COVID vaccine comes from a reliable and science-based source. Families and caregivers with questions or concerns about the vaccine and their child's health should talk with their child's healthcare provider. 
Encouraging Children to Try New Foods
Sometimes getting children to try new foods can be frustrating. This video from the USDA has some great tips to encourage children to try new foods. Although it's geared towards child care providers, the info can also help families with young children!
AAP Updates Recommendations for Safe Infant Sleep Practices
In a policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), published online June 21, 2022, in Pediatrics, shared updated recommendations for a safe infant sleep environment.

The recommendations include:
  • Placing infants to sleep in a supine position (on their backs) for every sleep until the child reaches 1 year of age.
  • Side sleeping is not advised and is not safe.
  • A firm, flat, noninclined sleep surface is recommended to reduce the risk for suffocation or wedging/entrapment.
  • Breastfeeding is associated with a reduced risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and is recommended, unless contraindicated or the parent is unable to do so.
  • Infants should sleep in the parents' room, but on a separate surface designed for infants, ideally for at least six months.
  • Soft objects such as pillows, comforters, and loose bedding should be kept away from the infant's sleep area.
  • A pacifier should be offered at nap time and bed time to reduce the risk for SIDS.
  • Smoke and nicotine exposure and alcohol, marijuana, opioids, and illicit drug use should be avoided during pregnancy and after birth.

Learn more with the Policy Statement or the Technical Report, and talk with your child's healthcare provider to ensure your child sleeps safely.
Physical Punishment and Child Outcomes
Studies show physical punishment (spanking) doesn't improve children's behavior and may actual cause long-term harm.

There are ways to address behavioral challenges in children without physical punishment. In Pennsylvania, programs like Nurse Family Partnership, Early Head Start, Family Check-Up, Healthy Families America, Parents As Teachers and Family Centers can provide families the support they need to address challenges that arise with young children before these concerns become more serious or problematic.

Your Early Learning Resource Center (ELRC) can help you find assistance. Find your ELRC at www.raiseyourstar.org.
Your Child Care Provider's Emergency Plan
Did you know all regulated child care centers, group child care homes, and family child care homes in Pennsylvania are required to have an emergency plan to keep your child safe? An article from Child Care Aware states that 38% of parents are unsure of their child care provider's emergency plan. 

You can be sure your child's regulated child care or early learning facility has an emergency plan that covers things like:

  • How you will be contacted in case of an emergency
  • How and where your child may be evacuated in case of emergency
  • You should also receive a letter, explaining the emergency procedures at your child's child care or early learning facility. If you don't, or need a new copy, ask the Director or owner. 

Are you looking for a safe child care or early learning program for your child? Use Pennsylvania's www.findchildcare.pa.gov to locate a child care or early learning program that is a good fit for you and your child.

Get information on the regulations for child care centers, group child care homes, and family child care homes in Pennsylvania.
Reading Aloud With Your Child
Grab a book and start reading to your child! Read Aloud 15 Minutes, a non-profit organization recognizes the benefits of reading aloud to children and encourages families and caregivers to read aloud every day for at least 15 minutes.  

At readaloud.org materials and resources are ready for you to share with others to inspire reading every day. Be sure to look at the family and caregiver handouts "Where Will Books Take You?" available for various ages and in both English and Spanish:

Use these resources to share with others to help promote reading aloud every day!
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Get the most up-to-date resources and information from PA's Promise for Children and our partners. Follow us on social media!

Information for Families During the Formula Shortage
There’s nothing as important to families and caregivers as the health and safety of their babies, and the formula shortage has left many feeling anxious about how they’ll feed them.

If you can’t find formula in stock, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has some tips for finding safe substitutes. Prior to making any changes to your baby's formula, check with your child's healthcare provider.
Changes Coming to Pennsylvania’s Medical Assistance Program for the HealthChoices Physical Health Plans
Pennsylvania’s Department of Human Services (DHS) is changing which Physical Health Managed Care Organizations (PH plans) are available for Medical Assistance (MA) consumers. This was a competitive process that allowed DHS to improve access to care and the quality of care for MA consumers. The PH plan changes are effective September 1, 2022.

MA Consumers will need to select a new PH plan if they are currently enrolled in:
  • Aetna Better Health statewide
  • Highmark Wholecare (formerly Gateway Health Plan) in the Northwest zone, and
  • United Healthcare in the Southwest and Lehigh/Capital zones.

If a consumer who needs to choose a new PH plan does not do so by August 16, DHS will auto-assign them to a to PH plan. It is vital for consumers to actively choose a PH plan to avoid being autoassigned to a PH plan that may not include their current providers in its network. MA consumers will not lose health coverage if they do not select a PH plan. Coverage will automatically continue under the PH plan they are autoassigned.

MA consumers must contact PA Enrollment Service to choose a new PH plan or change from one PH plan to another.
  • Going to PA Enrollment Services (enrollnow.net), or
  • Using the mobile app called PA Enrollment Services (available through the Apple store or Google Play), or
  • Calling 1-800-440-3989 (TTY: 1-800-618-4225) and select Option 6 to speak with a representative. Hours of operation are Mon - Fri, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

More information is available at dhs.pa.gov/PlanSelection.
July is International Group B Strep Awareness Month
Approximately 1 in 4 pregnant women carry Group B Strep (GBS), the leading cause of sepsis and meningitis in newborns according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. GBS can also infect babies during pregnancy and the first few months of life. Not all babies exposed to GBS become infected, but for those who do, the results can be devastating. Fortunately there are many ways to help protect babies from Group B Strep. These resources can help you learn more about GBS and prevent its devastating effects.
Online Vaccine Quiz to Keep Your Child Healthy
An online quiz from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has brief questions to help you identify needed vaccines to keep your child healthy. Take the quiz and get a list of vaccines based on your responses. Then discuss the vaccines on the list with your child's doctor or health care professional.
Choose Healthy. Choose WIC.
Did you know the special supplemental nutrition program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) has helped Pennsylvania families since 1974! WIC helps pregnant women, mothers and caregivers of infants and young children learn about good nutrition to keep themselves and their families healthy. 

WIC provides nutrition services, breastfeeding support, health care and social service referrals and healthy foods to eligible participants. You might qualify for WIC if you are a women who is pregnant or had a baby in the past six months or twelve months if breastfeeding; have an infant and/or children under age five; or if you are a father, grandparent or foster parent, who is the legal guardian of a child under age five. Visit the PA Department of Health to learn more. 
Summer Food Service Program
The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) from the USDA provides free meals to children from low income families so they may receive the same high quality nutrition throughout the summer that they eat in school cafeterias during the school year. To find a SFSP site in your community: 

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Starting Kindergarten in the Fall?
Will your preschooler enter Kindergarten in the fall of 2022? Sign up for the FREE monthly Kindergarten, Here I Am eNews! Each month get activities, tips and resources you can use to help your kindergartner prepare for and have a successful Kindergarten year.
The PA Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) provides families access to high quality services to prepare children for school and life success. 
Find more information about Quality Early Learning in Pennsylvania
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