Welcome to the Mid-State Regional Key STARS Newsletter!! 
STARS Updates from the Mid-State RK


Once OCDEL has released the 2017/2018 award request forms, community meetings will be scheduled.

We’ll keep you posted.  In the meantime, here is the 2017/2018 Award Structure.  If you have any questions, please contact your STARS Specialist.

Moving to STAR 3 or STAR 4?  Contact your STARS Specialist and schedule an ERS Assessment today!

OCDEL News & Updates  
In Case You Missed Last Week's Issue...

Have You Seen the New STARS  Standards?
The New STARS Performance Standards focus on practices that impact quality services for children and families.

The Changes to Keystone STARS include:
  • Approximately 50% fewer indicators which means less paperwork for providers;
  • Performance standards that are achievable;
  • Performance standards are meaningful to programs; and
  • Building flexibility with lots of choice for providers.

Program Observation Instruments (POI) -  What Are They ?
Find out  here !

Planning for an Inclusive Classroom: Supporting Children with Disabilities: Tue, July 25, 2017 4:00 PM
Free Webinar on OCDEL Inclusion here!

OCDEL Inclusion and Suspension/Expulsion Announcements: Timeline

There are two OCDEL Announcements that are effective July 1, 2017 and apply to all OCDEL Bureaus and programs. These announcements connect deeply with the shared values and vision across all OCDEL initiatives and programs. The timeline below can help you plan how you can support the families, children and staff in your program.

1. Inclusion of All Children in Early Childhood Programs in Pennsylvania
2. Reduction of Expulsion and Suspension in Early Childhood Programs in Pennsylvania

The OCDEL Inclusion Announcement is in response to the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Education (ED) policy statement recommending that states develop policies and practices to increase the inclusion of infants, toddlers, and preschool children with disabilities in high-quality early childhood programs.

The OCDEL Suspension & Expulsion Announcement is in response to the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Education (ED) policy statement recommending that states develop policies and practices to significantly limit the practice of expulsion and suspension of young children due to challenging behaviors in all early childhood programs.

July 2017: Look for the release of the Announcements via the PA Early Ed News ( Take some time to read the Announcements and think about what supports your program will need to meet them. Think about the families you support and how to involve them in implementing the Announcements. Reach out to the other programs in your area, including Early Intervention. Look at the resources on the PA Key and EITA Portal

July 25, 26, 27, 2017: Consider attending the presentation on the Administrators’ Tool Kit on Preventing Early Childhood Suspension and Expulsion. This half-day session will provide administrators of early learning programs a hands-on experience in identifying characteristics of their program that potentially increase the risk for early childhood suspension or expulsion and planning systemic changes to minimize this risk. Participants will start with a program self-assessment. The self-assessment results will guide exploration and use of the online toolkit, Preventing Suspensions and Expulsions in Early Childhood Settings and planning strategies that will address the needs of individual programs. See the flyer at for registration information.

August 2017: Watch for a brief tool, Getting Started: Implementing the OCDEL Inclusion Announcement. This quick guide is designed to help programs frame the seven local steps outlined in the OCDEL Inclusion Announcement.

Late summer/early fall 2017: Watch for the guidelines for the Announcements to be released. There are resources to help you! Please read the guidelines and begin to make connections with your local partners like Early Intervention, Child Care, Head Start, Pre-K Counts programs, or other local planning and coordination groups.

September 2017: Look for the release of the STARS Orientations. The Announcements align closely with the STARS Core Principles and are a foundational piece of every program’s efforts to build their structural quality. Please ensure your staff understands how and why these announcements are meaningful for both the children and teachers in your program. Please note the Announcements apply to all OCDEL programs and are part of the STAR 2 Performance Standards.

October 2017: Join us at the Early Childhood Education Summit ( to learn more about the Announcements and connect with other programs and partners.

December 2017: Think about the professional development you and your staff have accessed over the past six months. Are there more supports you need? Different information? A deeper dive into one specific topic? Please let us know! All programs will receive an on-line survey to ensure OCDEL is meeting your needs.

February 2018: December’s survey results will be shared with the field, along with the proposed new resources and supports that will be developed during spring/summer 2018.

March 2018: Please join us for a webinar from Early Intervention Technical Assistance on how to use a new online course, Collaborating for Inclusive Practices in Early Childhood. This innovative course is designed to be taken by Early Intervention and early childhood partners working through the online course together. Let’s think together about how to best support all children! Information about the webinar will be sent out in the PA Early Ed News. Subscribe to the PA Early Ed News at

July 2018: Please join us in welcoming our new Early Learning Resource Centers (ELRCs)! The ELRCs are your one stop for supportive resources and connecting children and families to resources to support their ability to find and stay in a high-quality early learning program. Information on connecting to your local ELRC will be announced through the PA Early Ed News.

Family Provider News - Jen DeStephano

Do you serve mixed age groups in your child care setting? Research shows there are many benefits for children of all ages in this environment

  • Multi-age groups offer children more opportunities to develop and practice social skills.
  • There is often less competitive and more cooperative or helpful behaviors.
  • Mixed-age group care is often a more comfortable and secure setting for young children.
  • Siblings spend more time together.
  • By design, mixed-age group care is geared more to the needs of individuals. Children have   greater freedom to develop at their own rate.
  • Older children learn to adapt their language and social skills to relate with younger children, often learning patience, compassion and problem solving skills.
  • Younger children are challenged by older children and often engage in more complex activities then when they play with same age peers.
  • Older children learn how to help care for younger children.  They can tie shoes or help a child write their name.
  • Mixed ages builds leadership skills and self-esteem.  The older children can give the younger children a "mentor" while learning a particular skill.
  • Developmentally Appropriate Practices: A mixed age groups are visible in the "real world".  It reflects the natural setting of real life.
  • Younger children are exposed to more complex play, advanced language, and educational activities by observing and imitating older children.  

Although it can be beneficial to serve mixed aged groups in a child care setting it can still present  obstacles in planning smooth activities throughout the day.

Here are 10 tips to keep in mind while serving mixed ages

  1. Provide a wide range of choices. Most caregivers find that part of the day is made up of unstructured "free play".  This is where they will provide a wide range of materials and activities that are appropriate for various age groups. 
  2. Provide some materials that are used specifically for an age group. Not all toys or areas need to be "one size fits all." It is fine to have some toys that are of specific interest for only one age group.
  3. Consider ages of children when you set up the childcare space. Safety is most important. Scissors that are used by school-aged children need to be stored out of the reach of toddlers.  Materials that are safe and appropriate for younger children can be arranged in easy to reach bins or containers. You may want to provide smaller sized furniture and step stools for younger children too.
  4. Select toys and materials that are open ended and can be used in many ways. Balls, art materials, blocks can be used by children with various abilities; they will use the material in increasingly complex ways.
  5. Focus on individual or small group activities.  Asking a group of children of differing ages to participate together may bore older children or frustrate younger children.
  6. Use the opportunities to promote cooperation and team work. Encourage children to help each other and solve problems together.
  7. Accept the fact you may need to be flexible when scheduling daily routines. Meeting the needs of individual children may mean you need to veer from routine. You may find a need to prepare an extra snack for an afterschool child or set up a quiet area for the youngster who still needs a nap.
  8. Separate older children when they are playing with small objects. Older children can be placed in an enclosed area, such as super play yards so that they can play with toys with small objects. This will allow the younger children access to the whole room while older children play undisturbed.
  9. Create activities that suggest a variety of roles.  An activity such as a circus would be an activity that has a variety of roles at individual levels.  Older children might be the ringmaster while younger children could be animals.  
  10. Children can enjoy being a part of each role in the group.  Each child will at some point be the youngest, middle and the oldest in the group.  This exposes them to different learning experiences.  

Adapted from: and

Health & Safety News - Anne Dodds
The Importance of Vaccinations- Get Smart July Newsletter

People who live in communities of close proximity, like college students, are more likely to contract a virus like mumps.  they go to class and do activities in groups, as well as exchange saliva through sharing food or drinks, making it even more likely for them to get infected.

Pennsylvania isn't the only state experiencing the mumps outbreak -- in 2017, 42 states have reported mumps infections!  

Read the rest of this article in the Get Smart July Newsletter.

Child Care Wellness Mini-grant Project 

We are very excited to announce that the Child Care Wellness Mini-grant Project is officially accepting applications for the 2017-18 program year! 100 selected licensed child care sites will begin the project in September 2017 and complete in June of 2018.

WHO:  100 Licensed Child Care Centers, Group, and Family Child Care Homes Serving Children Birth - Five 

WHAT: PA Nutrition and Physical Activity Self-Assessment for Child Care (PA NAP SACC)

 PA NAP SACC is an interactive, easy-to-use online tool that provides professional development for child care providers. This completely web-based process includes self-assessment, action planning, implementation, policy development, post-self-assessment, and reflection.   

WHERE: Online 

WHEN: Applications are due by August 18, 2017.  This Child Care Wellness Mini-grant Project will begin in September 2017 and wrap up in June 2018.

WHY: Beyond the reward of making a difference in the health of the children in your care, participants also receive a $500 mini grant to support their action steps and enhance their nutrition and physical activity practices and policies.

HOW: To apply, please complete and submit the application electronically using the link provided.  **Please note that this application was created in Survey Monkey, and cannot be started and then returned to at a later date to complete. Please allow yourself enough time to complete the application in one sitting. To preview the questions on the application ahead of time, click to access a PDF of the application questions. You can also click here to view the full grant announcement. 

**Remember - Applications are due by August 18, 2017**

Visit this link to apply today

If you have questions or require additional information, please contact Lori McMonigal, Coordinator for Special Projects at Tuscarora Intermediate Unit, at 717-248-4942 x 112 or

Reminder: Complete the New Health & Safety Training Requirements by September 2017 

Free online training is available now for 9 of 10 required topics.
One new requirement of the federal Child Care Development Block Grant is for all child care directors and staff to complete training on 10 health and safety topics by September 30, 2017. Please see OCDEL's Announcement for more information.

In order to meet the new requirements:

  • Take a free, six-hour "Health & Safety Basics: Requirements for Certification" course online through Better Kid Care or in person through the Regional Key, or provide transcript of courses already taken that meet the requirements.


  • Must take face-to-face Pediatric First Aid and CPR training.  Child care certification representatives are checking professional development records for these topics as part of inspections and new providers must complete pre-service training on the 10 topics before submitting an application.

Visit the PA Key website  or contact your Regional OCDEL Certification Office for more details.

Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)  
CACFP  provides reimbursement for meals and snacks served to children receiving non-residential day care in private homes that are licensed, registered, or approved to subsidized relative/neighbor child care.  
See CACFP Flyer here

National CACFP Sponsors Association  -  July 2017 Newsletter
Graham Crackers Allowed in New Meal Pattern

The USDA has issued a policy memo to provide flexibility in the service of grain-based desserts under the new meal pattern. Graham and animal crackers are now allowable components.  Read More

New Meal Pattern Materials
Reference Card, Magnets, Notepad
We're printing 100,000 copies and member agencies can get FREE New Meal Pattern Reference cards to distribute to providers. We also have companion magnets and 25-page notepad available. Showcased and shared at the annual national conference, these popular materials are being subsidized by the National CACFP Sponsors Association so you can get these into the hands of your CACFP Program participants. Order Free New Meal Pattern Materials

CACFP Creditable
With the new meal patterns that go into effect October 1, 2017, we know it can be hard for program participants to determine which food products are #cacfpcreditable. We are working on developing a resource page of creditable foods for providers, centers, and afterschool programs. Stay tuned!  CACFP Creditable

Afterschool Meals: Showcasing CACFP at School Nutrition Association Conference
Board and staff worked the School Nutrition Conference last week promoting CACFP to schools nationwide. While talking with our team, these two New Yorkers made a call to their agency to start implementing CACFP at various sites. Welcome to the food program! 

Interested in serving reimbursable meals afterschool and out-of-school time? 
Find A CACFP Sponsor and get started today!

Are you a CACFP Sponsor of At Risk | Afterschool? Get listed here today! Contact us. 

Celebrate Friendship Day 
This August, take time to celebrate friends! NCA has created activity newsletters for member organizations to share with child care providers and centers for both their use and for them to share with families -- connecting CACFP to quality child care. To distribute, simply click on the newsletter, save the file to your desktop and email them directly to your providers or print and deliver them at your next visit. Access Holiday Activities Resource Bank

Budget Now. Save the Dates!
Join the child nutrition community for an amazing few days of training, networking, and professional growth in San Antonio, TX next April. 

Over 120 workshops, 50 exhibitors, networking and general sessions all on the Riverwalk! 

Download the 2017 Conference Program   *    Learn More

New Meal Pattern Training Tools
These colorful and engaging materials from USDA can be used to empower Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) providers and operators with the knowledge, skills, and expertise to implement the updated CACFP meal pattern requirements that are effective starting October 1, 2017.

Yogurt Worksheet English | Spanish
Cereal Worksheet English | Spanish
Milk Worksheet English | Spanish

USDA Team Nutrition Develops CACFP Recipes Using Summer Produce
Check out these chef-developed and kid approved recipes. Make them at your family child care home or center; there are yields for 6, 25, and 50 servings. Crediting information is provided to help you incorporate the recipes into the updated Child and Adult Care Food Program meal patterns. CACFP Recipes
Infant & Toddler - Kim Alloway
Spotlight on Dual Language Learners

Children who learn multiple languages will often need to learn multiple words for the same object, so when counting the number of words that a child has acquired, count words in both languages. It may seem that children who are dual language learners know fewer words but the opposite is true when we count words in both languages. Learning two languages does not cause a delay in development. It is critically important though, that teachers use key words in the child’s home language to reinforce and help the child learn words in both languages. Connecting with the child’s family and learning common words can go a long way to help a child develop receptive and expressive language skills.

From Zero to Three Critical Competencies for Infant –Toddler Educators ; 2017

SACC News -Rhea Simmons
After School Quality: Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

The ASQ process works to improve your school age program quality through involving stakeholders in identifying areas for growth. Your staff are essential members of your stakeholder team. As the people who work directly with the children in your care, they have specific knowledge about what works in your program. They can provide useful insight to program challenges and help identify solutions.  More importantly, staff contributions often lead to increased staff support and commitment to quality improvement initiatives.

Involving staff and other stakeholders takes time. Throughout the process, your Technical Assistant will provide coaching to familiarize staff and the other team members with the ASQ process, identify roles, conduct observations, analyze findings and develop a plan of action. Staff involved in the ASQ process earn professional development credit. But most importantly staff become invested partners in making the dream of a quality after school program a reality.

For more information, visit the PA Keys website or follow this link:

Join us for a STARS Networking Meeting! 

New Standards Work Group 7/27/17, 1:00-3:00, at CAECTI Office, 777 W. Harrisburg Pike, Penn State Harrisburg, Church Hall, 3rd Floor, Middletown with Corrie

ERS Work Group with Amy Hoffman 8/2/17, 10:00-11:30, at Panera Bread, Carlisle Road, York with Carrie - Amy Hoffman will be there to answer any questions you may have!

**************Other Community Meetings******************** 

Lycoming County Early Learning Team 7/20/17, 11:00-1:00 at Penn State Coop Extension, 542 County Farm Road, Montoursville, RSVP Angela Mamrak

Birth to Five Committee 8/8/17, 10:00-11:30 at Adams County Head Start, 705 Old Harrisburg Road, Gettysburg with Christina

ECE Coalition Meeting 8/9/17, 1:00-3:00 at BLaST Intermediate Unit 17, 33 Springbrook Drive, Canton.  RSVP Desiree Rockwell

Opening of School Year Special Presentation: Nurturing the Resilient Child 8/22/17, 12:30 - 2:00 at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, 201 W. Louther Street, Carlisle with Marcy Witherspoon, MSW, LSW, Senior Training Specialist, Health Federation of Philadelphia   

Transition to Kindergarten Conference at PATTAN Center, Harrisburg  10/26/2017  For Cumberland, Dauphin, and Lebanon County Educators!  Learn the best transition techniques, ideas, and strategies to implement in the fall!

Professional Development Updates  
Register on the  PD Registry  

Effective 8/1/17, the renewal cost for Director’s Credential will be decreasing from $125.00 to $50.00.  Please contact the PA Key for more information.

Training Highlights 

Administrators’ Tool Kit on Preventing Early Childhood Suspension and Expulsion 

PaTTAN Pittsburgh: 7/25/17

PaTTAN Harrisburg: 7/26/17

PaTTAN East: 7/27/17

There will be an AM & PM session repeated at each location. Choose only one.
9:00 – 12:15 PM and 1:00 – 4:15 PM
Registration - 8:30 AM and 12:30 PM

Workshop Description:
This half day session will provide administrators of early learning programs a hands on experience in identifying characteristics of their program that potentially increase the risk for early childhood suspension or expulsion and planning systemic changes to minimize this risk. Participants will start with a program self-assessment. The self-assessment results will guide exploration and use of the online toolkit, “Preventing Suspensions and Expulsions in Early childhood Settings” and planning strategies that will address the needs of individual programs. This is NOT and in-depth behavior training intended for practitioners, it is an orientation for administrators to a free on line tool kit.

Training Hours:
3 Act 48 Clock Hours, 3 Infant Toddler Training Hours, and 3 PQAS Training Hours. PQAS code is K2C3.  You need to arrive on time and stay until the end to receive the training hours.  Register at: 

DEC Learning Decks

Challenges in Young Children: An Overview  July 25


New On Demand Modules- Better Kid Care:

Adventurous Play: The Whys and Hows

    Training Lists

    Mid-State Training List  - Updated

    Online Training

    MSRK Funded Online CDA Specialized Diploma - NEW!!!

    Job Opportunities

    The Art of Play Early Learning Academy is looking for an experienced child care provider (mother or professional) or early childhood educator to be our part time teacher. Days and hours vary but are flexible. Typical hours are between 7:30am-4:30pm. Check Out Job Details Here!

    The Goddard School of State College actively recruiting teaching professionals to partner with our team.  We are currently looking for a Pre-Kindergarten Lead Teacher.  More Details Here!

    Resources from our other ECE Partners

    2017 ECE Summit Update

    ECE Summit Scholarships Available
    The 2017 ECE Summit will be held October 16-18, 2017 at the Penn Stater Conference Center, State College, PA. This annual event provides early care and education practitioners, parents and advocates an opportunity to dialog and learn while building a stronger early learning community.

    With support from the Department of Human Services, Office of Child Development & Early Learning the Summit will again this year be able to offer scholarship to support staff working in DHS regulated child care programs -- center, group and family to attend the ECE Summit. Additionally, staff from the 32 state- funded Family Centers are also eligible to apply for scholarships to the ECE Summit.

    Scholarship funding may be used to pay for Summit registration and/or overnight accommodations. Scholarships will be available for both full and partial Summit registrations or a combination of both.

    Scholarships will be awarded with consideration given to geography, availability of funds, and financial need. Apply for an ECE Summit Scholarship here:

    Applications must be submitted by Friday, August 18, 2017 at 11:59 PM EDT. Applicants will be notified of their status via e-mail by Friday, August 25th. More information on the registration process will be provided at that time.

    Newsletters and Community Events  
    Thank you for all you do for children, families, and your community by being part of the STARS program!


    Mid-State Regional Key/Child Care Consultants

    (717) 854-2273 or (800) 864-4925