Welcome to the Mid-State Regional Key STARS Newsletter!! 
OCDEL News & Updates  

Assessing the Risk and Meeting the Needs of Pennsylvania's Children

The PA Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) has released the Reach and Risk Assessment State Fiscal Year 2015-16

Findings include: 

  • Children in 38 counties (57 percent) are at moderate-high or high-risk of low academic performance. 
  • One-third (33 percent) of children under age five participate in state and/or federally funded quality early care and education programs in Pennsylvania.
  • Across Pennsylvania, the three programs that impact the most children are Keystone STARS (14 percent), Early Intervention (9 percent), and Head Start (4 percent). 
  • Approximately one-fourth (23 percent) of Pennsylvania's infants and toddlers (birth to age two) participate in publicly-funded quality early care and education programs. 
  • Almost half (46 percent) of Pennsylvania's preschoolers (three- and four-year olds) are served in state and/or federally funded quality early care and education programs. 

For more information, including the full report, and data analysis by county and school district, please visit the PA Key website.

STARS Re-Visioning Updates

The Keystone STARS Think Tank Team met on March 27 to continue their work on revising the Keystone STARS system.  Keystone STARS is an initiative of the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) with three primary goals: 

  • To improve the quality of early care and education;
  • To support early care and education providers in meeting their quality improvement goals; and
  • To recognize programs for continuous quality improvement and meeting higher quality standards.

The Think Tank Team reviewed the recommendations of the three workgroups: PD/Coaching/Cross-Systems Partnerships; Quality Indicators/Program Alignment, Communications/STARS Ambassadors. These workgroups completed a review of the current system to identify the strengths and challenges and to offer new ideas. The Think Tank Team also provided feedback on the new proposed performance standards for Keystone STARS. The standards were reviewed for alignment with the Keystone STARS Guiding Principles, with the recommendations of An Inquiry into Pennsylvania's Keystone STARS (validation study of the STARS), and with OCDEL's goals to increase access to high quality programs, engage stakeholders, and use key data and research to improve policies and practices.  

Based on feedback from more than 2,000 stakeholders throughout the process, the new Keystone STARS indicators will

  • align with the core principles;
  • recognize child care certification as the foundation of quality by awarding all certified child care programs in full compliance with a STAR 1 rating, making them eligible for quality improvement supports.
  • reduce the number of indicators programs need to meet by approximately 50 percent;
  • provide multiple pathways to meet indicators;
  • streamline reciprocity with other program types (Head Start, Montessori, etc); and
  • provide STAR 3 and 4 programs with greater flexibility in choosing their quality improvement efforts to meet indicators.

As per the timeline, the indicators will be piloted in May, with release in late May/June. Programs will have a "hold harmless" year in 2017-18 to become familiar with the new system. Programs may earn higher STARS but will not lose STARS due to the new indicators. Visit the PA Key website for more information and updates. 

April FAQ: If I am an accredited Program or a Head Start Program how will my quality be assessed? 

  • Head Start Providers and Providers who have demonstrated high levels of quality through a different monitoring process will have an alternate pathway to support their movement up the quality continuum. This alternate methodology will be determined based on a crosswalk of the new STARS Indicators and various accreditation models. The goal is to reduce any duplicative work on the providers part. 
This initiative is in part by 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.
Family Provider News

Important Notice for Family Child Care Home Providers, from the Bureau of Certification 
Child Care Providers United, an affiliate of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), has begun reaching out to Family Child Care Home (FCCH) providers in Pennsylvania. As this outreach continues, FCCH providers may contact their OCDEL Regional Certification Office, Regional Key or Child Care Information Services agency with questions. Please be aware that OCDEL neither condones nor discourages providers in joining this or any other union. Participation in the union is completely voluntary on the provider's part. Your ability to become a certified child care provider, participate in STARS, or participate in the subsidized child care program (Child Care Works) is not impacted by your decision about whether or not to join the union.

Q uestions Contact:
Central Region Certification Office – 1-800-222-2117 or 570-374-2675
Mid-State Regional Key – Contact your STARS Specialist
To find your county’s CCIS Office click here.
Health & Safety News - Anne Dodds

Caring for a Child with Diabetes

Caring for a child with diabetes can be a challenge. Families and early care and education staff need to know what to do. Diabetes affects 7% of the population. About one in 500 children has diabetes. Children with diabetes do not make enough insulin. The body needs insulin to use sugar in food for energy and growth. Insulin is a hormone that must be produced naturally by cells in the pancreas or be given as a medicine at proper times and in the right amounts. Read more here. 

Infant & Toddler News   

“No Biting”
At some time or other, we will all encounter a toddler who bites. Some may only bite once, and some will bite several times a day. The best defense is a good offense, and one of the most important practices that can help when handling biting is OBSERVATION. When we really take a moment to OBSERVE a child who may be struggling with biting we can learn a good bit. Biting is a form of communication, and we need to figure out what is being communicated. Only then can we come up with good practices to prevent the biting. There isn’t enough room in this newsletter to do this subject justice, but one of the best resources I have found is:
“No Biting – Policy and Practice for Toddler Programs” (Gretchen Kinnell for Child Care Solutions, 2008). There is also a Family companion booklet that can be ordered with the book “Why Children Bite”. These are both fantastic resources and are quick and easy reads for teachers and parents. 
SACC News -Rhea Simmons

Watching the Big Kids

Adequate supervision is important at all levels of child care. In school age, supervision often presents unique challenges As you review your program’s supervision practices and policies, here are some things to think about:

·         Sometimes children are absent from school, or are dismissed early. What practices do we have in place to ensure we know what children are expected to be present or not?

·         Who do we contact in the school if a child does not arrive at the program?

·         School age children spend less time in care than preschoolers. How do we ensure that new staff and substitutes know the children in their direct care group?

·         What practices do we have in place to ensure parents are clear on sign in/out expectations at pick up?

·         How do we ensure children are adequately supervised, yet still respect their privacy needs in the bathroom?

·         How do we determine when an activity needs concentrated or focused supervision, and when monitoring is required?

These are just a few things to consider. For more information on effective supervision for school age, check out Keys to Quality Afterschool.

Join us for a STARS Networking Meeting!  Email Stephanie to RSVP

Director's Roundtable  4/13/17 at Giant Community Room in Camp Hill at 12:30 - with Christina 

SACC Summer Activities 

  • 4/19/17 at 12:30 at Lanc Farm & Show Bldg - with Jenn, Alyssa, & Rhea 
  • 5/4/17 at 12:30 at CAECTI - with Corrie, Alyssa, & Rhea 

Handbook and Policies 4/19/17 at 1:30 at Panera Bread, Carlisle Road York with Carol & Carrie 

Supervision 4/19/17 at 4:30 at Perkins, 96 Dorsett Heights, Mansfield with Anne & Erica - Note Date Change

Other Community Meetings 

Adams County Birth to Five Meeting 4/11/17 at 10:00 at Harbaugh-Thomas Library, 59 West York St. Biglerville. RSVP: 

ECE Coalition Meeting 4/12/17 at 1:00 at BLaST IU 17, 33 Springbrook Dr. Canton. RSVP: Desiree Rockwell

Lycoming County Commissioners Meeting 4/20/17 at 10:00 at 330 Pine St. in Williamsport. RSVP: Angela Mamrak

Grant Reminders & Updates 

There are very few grant dollars remaining for 2016-17. Please submit your grant application electronically to your specialist by April 7 th, even if you have not yet designated this year. They can then work with you on changes or clarifications needed, so it is ready to submit for approval by the time your designation is complete. 

Grant Closures  – If you have received your grant funds, please keep in mind that you must CLOSE your grant by the date listed on the letter you received with your check, or by June 30th, whichever comes first. 

Resources from our other ECE Partners

Changes to higher education financial assistance for child care directors and staff - TEACH

T.E.A.C.H.-eligible providers must select T.E.A.C.H. effective July 1, 2017  

In order to maximize financial assistance resources for early childhood education professionals, effective July 1, 2017, any child care professional who is eligible to receive a T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood ® Pennsylvania Scholarship must select that option.  

Who is eligible for T.E.A.C.H.? 

All DHS-certified child care providers participating in Keystone STARS are strongly encouraged to participate in T.E.A.C.H. if you have staff that are interested in accessing financial assistance for higher education.  

Download a side-by-side chart of eligibility and what's covered for the T.E.A.C.H. scholarship and Rising STARS Tuition Assistance Program.  

T.E.A.C.H. scholarships are a partnership between the sponsoring child care program, scholarship recipient, and OCDEL so that: 

For more information and to apply, visit the Pennsylvania Child Care Association website

Visit the PA Keys website for more information on financial assistance options to earn credentials and degrees. 

Newsletters and Community Events   

Celebrating Month of the Young Child
Month of the Young Child is a time to focus public attention on the needs of young children and their families and to recognize the early childhood programs and services that meet those needs. Since 1971, one week in April has been celebrated nationally as Week of the Young Child. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is holding its annual Week of the Young Child™ celebration from April 24 through April 28, 2017.  NAEYC is the world's largest early-childhood-education association with a network of over 300 affiliates across the country. Pennsylvania is taking it one step further and celebrating all month long! Celebrate with us and share the message of the importance of early learningCheck your county for fun ways to celebrate.

  • AdamsEarly learning partners in will celebrate Month of the Young Child on April 29th with their Community Celebration of Our Youngest Learners event in Gettysburg. Read more.
  • Dauphin - Playdate in the Park April 29th from 1-4 at Possibility Place at George Park. See Flyer 
  • Franklin: Early learning partners in will celebrate Month of the Young Child on April 22nd with the Early Childhood Expo in Chambersburg. Read more.
  • York - Teacher Celebration Event April 28th at the Outdoor Country Club of York from 6-9. Register Here.
Autism Walk April 22nd from 10-2 in Gettysburg. See Flyer 

PennAEYC Early Childhood Action Day - Save the day for May 17th. More details to follow.

Families Coming Together: Promoting Inclusion for All Infants, Toddlers and Preschoolers. May 24th in Harrisburg. See Brochure.

PA Early Ed News - April 2017 Newsletter now available!
QRIS National Newsletters - New QRIS 3.0 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