Dear early care and education supporters --

Here are two important announcements from the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL). We encourage you to read the full announcements and participate in the OCDEL survey below. In addition, we're sharing some helpful resources from NAEYC for educators during the pandemic.

Be healthy and safe,
The PennAEYC Team
Keystone STARS Designation Process for FY 20-21
The Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) has released the Announcement: ELRC-20 #14, Keystone STARS Designation Process for FY 20-21.  

This Announcement provides information to child care programs regarding the processes for Keystone STARS Designations for the 20/21 FY. Virtual components have been added to the Keystone STARS designation process in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in ECE programs. In addition, the expectations for STARS paperwork renewals are explained through this policy announcement.

The outbreak of COVID-19 across the commonwealth has required OCDEL to continually monitor the conditions posed by the pandemic and adapt accordingly. As a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, OCDEL will allow for virtual components to the Keystone STARS designation process to mitigate the risk of virus transmission. Additionally, OCDEL has suspended the requirement for STAR 3 and 4 programs to have an external Program Quality Assessment (PQA) for FY 2020. In place of an external PQA, during FY 2020, STAR 3 and 4 programs will work with their Quality Coach and a member of the Pennsylvania Key PQA Team to develop an Internal Assessment Process (IAP). This IAP will help to guide the program’s Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) plan and activities.

OCDEL has directed Early Learning Resource Centers (ELRCs) to grant six-month extensions to programs’ Keystone STARS designations for all those with expiration dates from March through Aug. 31, 2020. These extensions were designed to allow programs to focus on health and safety practices rather than on activities associated with designation renewals.

Beginning Sept. 1, 2020, the designation process for Keystone STARS will include virtual options for both renewals and move-ups. This protocol will remain in place during the COVID-19 pandemic conditions and until further notice from OCDEL. Each ELRC will be implementing a virtual designation procedure that has been approved by OCDEL. These individualized plans allow each ELRC to meet the unique needs of the programs within their regions.

Share your Information in the August OCDEL Provider Survey
The 2019 novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has had significant impacts on the child care provider community beginning in March 2020. OCDEL is interested in understanding the successes and challenges child care providers are experiencing as they operate during the pandemic. One strategy to collect information is a brief monthly survey on staffing and enrollment.

The OCDEL Provider Survey is providing valuable information every month. A huge thank you to the more than 1,400 early childhood education providers who provided their response in the June survey and the more than 1,200 who participated in the July survey! Your response provides very valuable information to represent the child care situation in Pennsylvania. Your participation this month will be particularly useful as we understand the impacts changes in local school district schedules are having on school age child care enrollment. The survey is voluntary and will take approximately 10 minutes to complete. We encourage every child care operator’s participation in this brief survey.

Please complete the survey by Tuesday, September 8, 2020. OCDEL will issue the final survey at the end of September to compare and analyze changes.
NAEYC Resources to Help Navigate the Unique Challenges of the 2020 Back-to-School Season
The National Association for the Education of Young Children has put together some great resources for educators as more schools and centers re-open for the 2020-2021 school year. These resources are also great for child care centers and family child care providers that have remained opened through the pandemic. 

Developmentally Appropriate Practices in the Time of COVID As educators in the midst of a pandemic, we are faced with these novel challenges of face coverings, adapting to and learning new guidelines while providing developmentally appropriate instruction and care with young children. 

Preventing Compassion Fatigue: Caring for Yourself Self-care for educators is always a relevant topic and now as we navigate these unprecedented times and a global health crisis, we must show up for ourselves in order to best support the young children we care for and educate each day. 

Featured Teachers: Adjusting to the New "Normal" Learn and collaborate with these featured teachers to gain perspective on how educators across our country are adjusting to the new "normal." 
Phone: (717) 635-9026
Toll Free: 888.272.9267
415 Market St.
Harrisburg, PA 17101