image of a bell and words BELL Newsletter
Sadie Sprague-Lott, Education Coordinator for Families Forward Philadelphia consults with a family about high quality early learning programs.
Sadie Sprague-Lott, Education Coordinator for Families Forward Philadelphia
consults with a family about high quality early learning programs at the latest enrollment event.
Enrollment Party at Families Forward!
by Sarah Vrabic, BELL ECE Specialist, PEC
and Todd Hopkins, BELL Permanent Supportive Housing Coordinator, PEC
Nothing pairs better with water ice and soft pretzels than early childhood education! We partnered with the education staff at Families Forward to organize an outdoor enrollment party for families to meet high quality early learning providers and to try to beat the heat! We were even joined by representatives from Action for Early Learning, The School District of Philadelphia, and the SEED School.

We enjoyed a morning of connecting, story book reading, problem solving, mustard spreading, laughing, and smiling as more children’s futures opened to the bright possibilities of high-quality early childhood education.

Ten families started their Pre-K enrollment applications with the School District representatives. The BELL team also consulted with 15 families about their early learning needs for their birth to three-year-old children, establishing referral processes to programs like Parents As Teachers and Early Head Start, as well as informing parents about the subsidy application process through the Early Learning Resource Center. Our team is now working on following up with the families, to ensure their respective referrals and enrollments are successfully completed.

And did we mention the soft pretzels and water ice? Delicious!

You can invite BELL to your shelter for an event by contacting Omari Baye, BELL Manager at or (267) 505-8817.
TEXT PECBELL TO to 844-961-3547 for BELL news!
Stories from the Front Lines
By Dawn Nock, BELL Early Childhood Education Specialist, PEC

A staff person at a shelter mentioned to me that a parent in emergency housing was concerned about looking for a job while taking care of her child. How could she go on interviews without childcare, she asked. I reminded her of the subsidy provision known as “presumptive eligibility.” This policy allows a qualifying parent to receive subsidy for up to 92 days while she seeks employment. After speaking to the parent, I sent the shelter staff the names of high-quality programs that were rated STAR 3 or 4. I also offered to conduct a “Pop Up” discussion about childcare subsidies and presumptive eligibility via Zoom for parents and staff from some shelters. We viewed and discussed some of the Early Learning Resource Center resources shared at the June Children’s Work Group Early Childhood conference (click here to see it). The parents and shelter staff shared that they were more informed and felt empowered after the presentation.

What questions do you have about early childhood education? Email them to with "BELL Newsletter" in the subject line and we will answer them in coming editions of this newsletter.
Resilience and Young Children in Shelter
By Omari Baye, BELL Program Manager, PEC

PEC Visiting Scholar and BELL’s Data Manager Dr. JJ Cutuli and I presented at Thomas Jefferson University’s 4th Annual Philadelphia Trauma Training Conference on Friday July 16th, 2021. The presentation, Building Early Links for Learning: Resilience and Young Children in Shelter, provided important context on the impacts of homelessness on child development through a presentation, empathy exercise, and robust discussion. 
After defining homelessness according to the McKinney Vento Act, I asked session attendees to consider the adverse experiences of children in shelter attending school from “home.” The audience participated in the discussion, followed by an empathy exercise, imagining themselves as children in shelter, logging in for school. On a screen full of their peers' homes, was their background an image of bunk beds, a cafeteria full of families eating, or other sheltered youth similarly logged on for class? How would it feel for your teachers and classmates to witness your hardship?

Dr. Cutuli stated that “…young children’s contexts influence their development. Contexts that are responsive to children’s needs are generally better because they structure and promote healthy development. This is true for all children; when it happens for children who have typical experiences, we just call this development; when it happens for children who experience serious adversities like homelessness and the adversities that go along with it, we call this resilience.” 

A question posed to the audience was, “What happens to the social safety net when compounded by a global pandemic?” Responses hinted that the impact of this set of factors creates a Swiss cheese effect, whereas social supports can catch and provide for some, but the immense strain placed on those supportive systems creates large gaps, often resulting in a lack of equity for children experiencing homelessness. As later stated by Dr. Cutuli, “resilience doesn’t exist in a vacuum.” Instead, resilience is supported by effective social efforts and systems aimed at mitigating the impact of adverse experiences on a child’s development.

If you are interested in the presentation, email Mr. Baye at
Register Now – BELL’s 2021 Summit: Children Can’t Wait! 
More than 200 people are already registered for the 2021 BELL Summit on Wednesday, September 29, 2021, form 9 AM to 12 Noon. We guarantee that you will hear a lot of new things. Join us by registering now at! 
The theme of this year’s summit is “Children Can’t Wait: How Pennsylvania Can Lead Pennsylvania and other Major Metros in supporting Children Experiencing Homelessness.”

Keynote speaker will be Mr. John McLaughlin, Education Program Specialist with the United States Department of Education. Mr. McLaughlin oversees the national implementation of the McKinney-Vento homeless education system.

In addition, a panel of experts will share new their views and offer recommendations. The panel, moderated by Roslyn Edwards, PEC's Early Learning Director, will include:

  • Tracey Campanini, Deputy Secretary, Office of Child Development and Early, PA Department of Human Services, will share new policies and procedures that support young children experiencing homelessness.
  • Donna Cooper, Executive Director of PCCY, will discuss K-12 education challenges, how American Rescue Plan should be deployed, and what policymakers need to do.
  • Tracy Duarte, Executive Director of the PA Head Start Collaboration Office will talk about a new report of homeless children accessing Head Start across Commonwealth and new efforts to increase enrollments.
  • Barbara Duffield, Executive Director of the Schoolhouse Connection, discussing national trends and how American Rescue Plan should be deployed.
  • Omari Baye, PEC BELL Program Manager, who will relay what we see in the field every day.
Sign up Today for our Next Children's Work Group Early Childhood Conference

The Children's Work Group Early Childhood Conference is the only meeting where practitioners from multiple professions engage in discussion on young children experiencing homelessness. Professionals from public health, hospitals, city and state government, homeless housing, early childhood education, academia, home visiting, child welfare, early intervention, and other systems come together. We host trainings, workshops, and panels of guest leadership. And we network; by getting to know one another, we improve how our systems collaborate.

We meet every third Friday of the month, starting at 9:30 AM. Join our mailing list by emailing
Register today for the CWGEC Conference discussion with Colleen Landy of the School District of Philadelphia to learn about how the District will support all students experiencing homelessness. 

In addition, we are inviting the Philadelphia Early Learning Resource Center (ELRC #18) to provide updates on enrolling children into childcare and other early learning programs.  

When: August 20, 2021
Time: 9:30 AM

Click here for previously recorded trainings! We recently posted the Early Learning Resource Center conference. The recording is accompanied by the PowerPoint presentation. 
PEC Approaches a Half-Century of Service 

PEC's 50th anniversary will be in September of 2022. In honor of this milestone, we are undertaking a brand assessment, and we want to hear from you! Our communications team will be creating a series of brief surveys to find out how you feel about our mission, services, and impact. Take a short survey by clicking here. Thank you for your thoughts!
PEC's Building Early Links for Learning (BELL) project is supported in part with funding from by Vanguard Strong Start for Kids (r), William Penn Foundation, and United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey.