Welcome to the Mid-State Regional Key STARS Newsletter!! If there are others that you know that would benefit from this information, please forward this email to them to sign up. 
OCDEL News & Updates
Call for Artwork for Children's Mental Health Awareness Day 2017: Digital Art Exhibition         Deadline February 6, 2017   

National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day 2017 will be observed by more than 150 national organizations and 1,100 communities across the country on May 4, 2017. Awareness Day 2017 will focus on the importance of integrating children's mental, emotional, and physical health. During the event, best practices in communication between behavioral health providers, primary care, youth, and families, as well as evidence-based community programs, will be showcased.  

In support of Awareness Day 2017, the Office of Head Start (OHS), the American Art Therapy Association (AATA), and Youth M.O.V.E. (Motivating Others Through Voices of Experience) National are reaching out through their networks to children, youth, and young adults ages 3-25 and inviting them to create artwork addressing the theme: "I am a work of art." The digital art exhibition will celebrate the important role of art and creativity in mental health and wellness. It also emphasizes a holistic view of children's health. See the announcement for information on criteria and how to submit art. 

Save the Date: 2017 P-3 Governor's Institute

The Pennsylvania Department of Education's Office of Child Development and Early Learning has announced the 2017 Prenatal to Grade 3 (P-3) Governor's Institute: P-3 Collaboration - Working Together for Student Success. The P-3 Governor's Institute aims to help school districts, early learning providers, and community organizations throughout the commonwealth make the vital connections and collaborations necessary for student success from prenatal through grade 3. The 2017 P-3 Governor's Institutes will be offered regionally:

  • June 27-29 at the Marriott in Cranberry
  • July 11-13 at the Sky Top Lodge in the Poconos
  • July 31- August 2 at the Hershey Lodge in Hershey

Get more info on the details so you'll be ready when registration opens! 

This initiative is a part of Pennsylvania's Race to the Top - Early Learning Challenge grant. For more information on other initiatives funded by this grant, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Education website.

STARS Re-Visioning Updates 

Public webinars January 19

More than 600 stakeholders participated in the orientation webinars for the three STARS Revisioning Workgroups: Quality Indicators and Program Alignment; PD/Coaching/Cross-Systems Partnerships; and Communication/STARS Ambassadors Workgroups. These workgroups will begin work in December and early 2017. 

On November 10, more than 60 members of the Keystone STARS Think Tank met to discuss and review the current Keystone STARS performance indicators to start thinking about what are the few and powerful standards that best measure quality, and can be measured.  Next step is for the members of the Quality Indicators and Program Alignment Workgroup to conduct their own assessment using the criteria of evidence-based/high value, achievability and feasibility for objective measurement and merge that with the results of the Think Tank.  

All stakeholders are invited to participate on one of two public webinars on January 19, 2017 for an update on the Keystone STARS Re-visioning work. Sign up via the links below: 

STARS Updates from the Mid-State RK
Save the Date - One Book Event
March 23rd at PaTTAN

Facebook Page  
Don't forget to check for updates throughout the week! Mid-State STARS and Child Care Consultants

Health & Safety News - Anne Dodds 

Smart from the Start Funding Opportunity           Deadline March 2017                                                       The Smart from the Start Awards are designed to encourage preschool teachers to create practical, long-term improvements in nutrition and physical activity at their preschool. Grand prize is a $20,000 grant for the preschool and a prize pack of books. Ten Runners-Up receive a $2,500 grant and a prize pack of books. Click Here

Health Capsule: Lead - A Health Risk for Many Young Children 
Children are more at risk than adults to the effects of lead because their brains are still growing. Lead exposure can cause problems with the brain.   This  may lead to learning difficulties and behavior problems. There is no safe level of lead exposure for children. Sources of lead can include old paint, contaminated dust and soil, and water in lead pipes. The most important step is to prevent lead exposure before it occurs. Children are especially at risk of lead exposure if they:

  • live in the inner city or in poverty
  • live in a home built before 1978
  • have poor nutrition

Early care and education programs can help prevent and reduce lead exposure in the following ways:

  • Promote handwashing before meals and after outdoor gross motor play
  • Clean/wash toys and furniture to reduce a child's exposure to lead in dust
  • Vacuum weekly and as needed with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA)  vacuum
  • Check toys and playground equipment for chipped or peeling paint
  • Provide healthy menus and regular meal and snack times
  • Make sure to screen children at risk of lead exposure. Link them to their medical home.
  • Track each child’s developmental milestones 
  • Arrange for skilled assessment of children with high lead levels for learning disabilities.  Encourage and support parents to contact CONNECT at 800-692-7288.
  • Educate families about the dangers of lead exposure
  • Provide quality educational programs that support healthy development and cognitive growth.  This may reduce some of the effects of lead exposure


  • Contact ECELS for suggestions about how to have screenings or lead tests done in a child care facility. 
  • PA Lead Information Line 800-440-LEAD (5323) Call for specific  information about lead.
  • National Lead Information Center (NLIC) provides the public and professionals with information about lead, lead hazards and their prevention. For questions about lead in drinking or ground water, contact the Safe Drinking Water Hotline: 800-426-4791 or click "Ask a Question

Online Resources:

Child Care Health Advocate College Course

Register now for the entirely online, Child Care Health Advocate Course.  This 3 (college) credit - hour course from Northampton Community College (NCC) can help your program implement the practices from the Health and Safety Basics- Requirements for Certification course.  The spring term runs January 17 – May 15, 2017 .  The course includes live interactive online sessions. Nurse instructors teach the course online. Dr. Susan Aronson is (volunteer) guest faculty. Nearly 200 students have taken the course and shared that they have improved the quality of their programs with the assignments that involve implementation in their programs.

Register early to participate in the upcoming term.  See the attached flyer for registration details. Pennsylvania students can use Rising STARS Tuition Assistance ( ) for reimbursement. The Mid-State Regional Key will be sponsoring a section of the course for the spring term.   

ECELS is providing a free copy of the new American Academy of Pediatrics resource,   Managing Infectious Diseases in Child Care and Schools, 4th Ed. for every student that enrolls in the CCHA
Join us for a STARS Networking Meeting!

Grant Writing Drop In - 12/10/16 at Park City Lancaster from 10-12 - with Jen D. 

Director Roundtable - 12/13/16 at Tomato Pie Cafe on Tecport Dr. in Harrisburg at 12:00 - with Alyssa & Jenn

PD Registry Overview - 12/14/16 at Panera Bread on Carlisle Rd. in York at 9:30 - with Carrie

Director Roundtable - 12/20/16 at Park City in Lancaster at 12 - with Jenn

Director Discussion - 1/11/17 at Panera Bread on Carlisle Rd. in York at 2:00 - with Carrie

STAR 1 for Spanish Speaking Providers - 1/14/17 at Luthercare Lebanon at 10 - with Jen D. - tentative 

Director Roundtable - 1/19/17 at Carlisle United Way at 12:30 - with Christina 

Art for Infants & Toddlers - designed for Directors to learn what types of art activities should be happening in your Infant/Toddler classrooms. PD Hours will be provided. 1/24/17 at Lebanon YMCA at 1 - with Corrie               1/26/17 at Lancaster Penn State Coop at 12:30 - with Jenn 

RSVP to Stephanie at 

LICC/Lycoming Provider Meeting - 1/19/17 River Valley YMCA in Williamsport at 11. RSVP to Angela Mamrak at

Professional Development Updates - register on the PD Registry at the PA Keys website

Core Series Training

  • STARS Orientation in Lititz - Part I on 12/12 and Part II on 12/14, both from 6-9.
  • STARS Orientation in Harrisburg on 1/19 - Part 1 from 9-12 and Part II from 12:30-3:30.
  • CKC 1/19/17 in Lancaster

Other Training Organizations & Online Training 

New On Demand Modules Available: Better Kid Care
For school-age professionals:
PYD Foundations: Youth Engagement
Learn how to build a program that authentically engages youth, and explore examples of successful youth engagement experiences.

For family child care professionals:
Family Child Care: Engaging Experiences for Mixed Abilities
Learn specific strategies to plan and facilitate exciting experiences for a group of children who have a wide range of interests and abilities. Includes activities in a variety of learning areas.

For early care professionals:

Adverse Childhood Experiences: Building Resilience
Discover the role of early care and education professionals in nurturing resilience in the children and families in their care who experience ACEs.

I Am Moving, I Am Learning - Take It Outside!
For happier, healthier, and stronger children, plus to maintain healthy body weight, discover ways to encourage children to get outside, get moving, and connect with the natural world.

I Am Moving, I Am Learning - Active Play Every Day!
This lesson explores the importance of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) in order to promote healthy habits in children. Discover ways to encourage children to get moving, and be physically active.
Picky Eaters: A Guide to Responsive Feeding
This module explores ways to incorporate responsive feeding techniques beginning in infancy to develop healthy eating behaviors in children who may experience sensory issues and neophobia with food. 

Language Preference in PD Registry                        
Here is how users can choose their language preference:       . Login as a student                                                                . On the top bar choose the Language drop-down     .          . Choose a language

Infant & Toddler News - Kim Alloway

Fine Motor Skills Article                                               Take a moment to check out this article about children, fine motor skills, and the importance of hands on learning.
Print off a copy for discussion at your next staff meeting.
“Advertising often convinces parents that children are learning from the two-dimensional computer games and applications they use. Children, however, live in a three-dimensional world and need to be learning from interactions with real objects or people. For example, the way children learn what “three” means is to hold three objects, eat three grapes, build with three blocks, see how many sets of three are in a little box of raisins, make a triangle with three pretzel sticks. Children learn by doing and experiencing, not by passively watching.”

SACC News - Rhea Simmons 

STEM Graphing with Legos                                          Here is an easy way to encourage  children to to get to know one another and practice math skills at the same time. Each day, post a question for children to answer. Then as they arrive after school, children can answer by graphing their responses using Legos or other  cubes. Questions could be informational like the  number of people in your household, or more thought  provoking questions like “Would you rather  have $100 to keep  or $1000 to give away?" The results can be an opportunity to  deepen children’s understanding about data, and even encourage them to generate their own questions  for the group to investigate.  

Grant Reminders
The deadline to submit your MERA grant request is 10 days after your STARS Renewal or Move up date. If you have already renewed your STAR level for 2016-17, please submit your grant request  electronically  to your specialist ASAP.

News from our other ECE Partners

PennAEYC Voice Awards                                             Save the date for April 7th at the Hershey Lodge. 

Shared Sources                                                            Now available - shopping lists from various vendors for ITERS, ECERS & FCCERS.  Click Here

1,000 T.E.A.C.H. Scholarships Available
Do you want to earn your Child Development Associate (CDA)? Do your goals include receiving an Associate's or Bachelor's Degree in Early Childhood? Have you wanted to work on your Pennsylvania Certification in early childhood education, but just haven't had the resources? 

The Pennsylvania Child Care Association (PACCA), in partnership with the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) have available more than 1,000 T.E.A.C.H. (Teacher Education and Compensation Helps) scholarships for eligible professionals in DHS-certified Keystone STARS programs. Scholarships are available for CDA Credentials, CDA Assessment Fees, Associate's and Bachelor's degrees as well as PA Teacher Certification in early childhood education.

Get more information or download an application at PACCA's website. Questions? Contact a T.E.A.C.H. Scholarship Counselor at 717-657-9000.

Anti-Bias Published in EdWeek
Anti-bias teaching, inclusive practice, and cultural competence are critical competencies for early childhood educators. Recently, Teri Talan co-authored a letter to the editor on implicit bias, which was published by Education Week. The letter details how National Louis University (NLU) threads culturally relevant pedagogy through all of its coursework. 

Newsletters and Community Resources 
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